Thoughts on the First Group – My Test Pilots

The learners I had in this MOODLE have now finished their classroom component of their program; they still have 10 weeks of co-op placement to complete.  For the first time ever, the learners in this Retail SLT program will need to continue to keep up their skills by completing weekly online tasks.  I’ll tell you why I think this is awesome.

Why I Think This Is Awesome:

In the past, when the learners left me, that was it.  When they left my classroom to spend 2 weeks at a local employment agency and then their 6 or 8 weeks at the retail partner, my role was completely finished.  They would only see me at the very end when they returned to the employment agency for their performance evaluations and their certificates of completion.

Learners would not need to do any review, reading, writing, etc because it was assumed that since they were at the retailer’s, they would be getting plenty of listening and speaking practice.  In addition, there is also a considerable measure of reading and CBT (computer-based training).  What we found was that learner’s spoken prowess increased significantly over the weeks of customer service and workplace interaction.  We also found that reading and writing skills either stayed the same, or, more often, weakened somewhat.

Thus, for my pilot group of retail ESL learners, I proposed to the Big Guy (aka my boss) that we keep the learners engaged in a self-study program aimed at improving reading and writing skills through weekly tasks and assignments, with a workplace/CLB focus.  Then we can offer the learners the opportunity to write their Reading and Writing outcomes at the end of their placements knowing that they have been exercising these skills throughout their co-op placements.  We have only been offering the Listening/Speaking outcomes up until now.

So,  the following list is why I think this MOODLE is awesome for my particular situation:

  1. learners get the chance to strengthen their reading and writing skills through weekly tasks and activities
  2. learners get to maintain the classroom relationships that they have developed (learners get split up into three different locations)
  3. learners get the chance to discuss in a safe and private place what their workplace experiences are like, and can get feedback from their instructor and peers
  4. learners can share their expertise with their peers in “spotlight” group forums – i.e. if learners are working in “Paint” and have learned a new skill or something particular important about a product or service, they can share it with others who are in the same department but at a different location
  5. learners can share their thoughts and ideas about customer service in Canada, and how best to serve the diverse population in which they live
  6. learners will get feedback from their instructor with regards to their writing and reading assignments (oh man, learnIT2Teach crew, if you can find *ANY* way to allow feedback to blogs, I would love you like a brotha from another motha…)

Now, my pilot group has just flown the coup – they have been at the employment agency for this week only.  I have checked to see whether or not they are looking in to the group, and only one member has checked and done his assignment this week.  They still have time – they can get caught up at the end of next week.  I have put these instructions in big, BOLD, letters in the news, so I am certain that they all know what is expected.

Also, this group has an advantage in the timing of the program.  I am presently on a non-teaching assignment, so my time is more flexible and I can maintain the site and produce and grade assignments.  Now if I had been given a regular CLB class, I am not sure how this part of the program could be maintained.  It is something that we need to look at, especially if the learners take advantage of it and use the program.

P.S.   As an editing teacher, I *really* like that we can track participants in MOODLE because this is going to be a deciding factor at the end of the program when we determine whether or not learners can do the Reading and Writing outcomes.  No logins, no activity, no chance to advance a level.

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