The Student VU Learnscope 2001 Project Tracey-ann Reynolds School of Business, TAFE Division.
Rationale The School of Business (TAFE Division) has been involved in helping staff to develop their skills to enable trialling the TAFE Virtual Campus since 1999. From this experience, it was found that staff wanted and needed to develop their information and communication technology skills, to build confidence in understanding online educational issues, prior to further Professional Development. These issues were addressed in the Learnscope Project 2000 www.staff.vu.edu.au/learnscope This site has been used extensively since its release last year as an online learning resource and point of reference. In the overall plan of development of the first learnscope project, it was envisaged that a companion site for learners would also be needed. The challenge was to develop and pilot an online resource that would enable students to improve their skills in Information technology, communications technology and generic study skills. The competencies required for online learning to take place were identified. These competencies are the minimum requirements for learners, in order to enhance their learning power in an Online learning environment. These competencies are identified in the ANTA Toolbox central site. http://www.toolboxcentral.com/ The Student VU site has been designed for teachers to help learners.
Rationale Continued The project has enabled the creation of a Flexible Learning site for students to help improve skills in preparation for study in the online learning environment. The objective being, to provide learners with the skills and knowledge required to manage and support their E-Learning experience in a consistent, supported and structured way. With the use of online communication technologies, teachers will be able to actively support learners in improving skills and confidence at a time that suits them, after an initial workshop with learners to help them understand how to use the resource and how to access support. The learning sections within the site have introductory tutorials to topics, with hyperlinks to online resources and specific tutorials to help learners develop their skills. There are activities to complete, tools to download, and communication opportunities using a discussion board and online chat facilities, which are moderated. The site can be used as a resource as learners begin their subject or course online.
Project Goals The Development of an online preparatory program to support TAFE flexible learners as they develop their skills and build awareness in communications and information technology and generic study skills, is the main goal of this project. The site recommends face to face orientation workshops which can be provided by staff in conjunction with the project team, in order to prepare students for online learning. This will inform and empower students about the support, resources and regulations within the University and will also provide access and training in generic study skills and information and communications technology. The resource was developed to provide skill development opportunities and support materials that would fit a range of learner needs. The preparatory program needed to be economical in terms of the time required to complete the learning and necessary practicum. It needed to be flexible for staff and learners to access.
Project Goals Project Goals Continued Learners can develop their online learning competencies via a system of using skills checklists to value the skills they already have and to recognise the skills they need to develop. Staff and learners are invited to utilise the communications technology to share ideas, resources and information about issues in online and flexible learning, to create a sustainable environment where an online community can grow. The product of this project has a direct relevance to the TAFE Division, as it ventures further into online and flexible learning possibilities and provides a viable opportunity for staff and their learner groups to work together, within a collaborative and co-operative environment.
Team/Resources During the development phase of this project, a dedicated team worked together in a supportive, consultative and collaborative environment to develop the site: Multimedia /Online education/Content development specialists Information Technology support team TAFE Virtual campus team (external) Teachers involved in participative trials Students involved in participative trials Library staff
Evaluation The Student VU has been trialled with the support of a group of dedicated staff and learners who wanted to use the resource to consolidate their skills and conduct research as part of their study requirements. The trials were conducted in a facilitated environment, within the university and also via orientation workshops where the learners were introduced to the site and then had access to the resource during their work placement off campus. Online chat sessions were organised to complement the learning sections accessed within the site, the discussion board was utilised as well as email to maintain contact with the learners while they trialled the resource. Learners evaluated their experiences using a thorough approach via focus group sessions and then by downloading and completing an online evaluation form and either emailing it to the project team or by printing it out and snail mailing it to the team.
Evaluation Evaluation Continued Evaluative feedback during the formative and summative trial phases have been very positive. The learners have indicated that they felt confident and supported as they developed their skills within a facilitated workshop environment. The learners felt also confident when they were learning external to the university during work placement, and flexibly in a lab without supervision. The learners seemed to enjoy learning and sharing their knowledge using the communications technology. The site continues to be developed, based on further evaluative feedback received during the summative trial phase. Please get involved and take a look at the site and participate in the trial. The site will be officially launched in the new year. www.staff.vu.edu.au/Student_VU