The course finished a week ago (has it only been a week? It feels like a month.) I am glad that I was able to get my feet wet with a blended learning class, because at least now I have some practical experience with using an LMS. So what do I think? I bet you’re on the edge of your seat waiting to hear my “final thoughts” (sounds so dark and morbid!)
There is a lot of potential for using an integrated Learning Management System for Newcomers to Canada. First of all, the learners WANT this experience. They recognize the need for it. Even the learners who struggled the most said that they know these are skills that many, if not all, workplaces demand. The learners that persevered through the program were happy with the experience, even if they didn’t progress in their benchmarks (very few of them did).
The time commitment was one of the bigger challenges (lack of techno know-how being the main challenge). Learners honestly had not been prepared to put in the time at home to complete the assignments, do the readings, etc. When they began to fall behind, it was almost impossible to catch up. Overall, we had 14 assignments that students needed to submit to the course dropbox. One student submitted 100% of what we asked for; two students submitted 90%, and then it drops off dramatically from there.
I think that most students had thought they would be able to complete all tasks during class-time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. That’s not how a blended learning course works. You need to produce in the classroom component and show what you have been e-learning. I think that my colleague and I did far too much presenting of the work that was meant to be done at home during the in-class time.
Another challenge that we had was the compressed time for the power-course. Normally, a CLB writing course takes place over 10-12 weeks; we had 4.
Overall, I’d gladly do another blended course; however I think that the biggest thing I will take out of this experience is an appreciation of the possibilities that this kind of technology brings to the learning environment.
So, during my last week of the course, I stumbled upon LearnIT2Teach, a CIC funded initiative aimed at doing just this sort of thing, using the LMS called Moodle. You know moodle – I think I’ve mentioned it before. LearnIT2Teach has developed 4 stages of training for LINC teacher/instructors and will (get this) SET UP and ADMINISTER a Moodle platform for graduating teacher/instructors. Hello? Really? And here I was about to try to learn code this August and buy a domain for my own Moodle platform.
So, guess what I’ve been doing? I completed my Stage 1 yesterday and am about to jump into Stage 2. It’s not a cakewalk – you have to exercise your brain and pay attention. (Unlike the safety videos we are required to “watch” for work) (Uh, if my boss is reading this, I do actually watch the safety videos…) (most of the time) (parenthetically speaking of course).
My plan is to do the stages, do them well enough to be prepared to start my courses in September. I’m glad I stumbled onto LearnIT2Teach and am kicking myself that I hadn’t found them before (I had heard the term, but always thought it had something to do with real IT, as in the computer guys at work who fix stuff).
Final thoughts and words of wisdom…
If it’s not loading, hit F5. If that doesn’t work, go get Firefox. There is a reason why the Techies use and swear by the Fox.