EDDL 5141   Week 5 &6 Activity 2.                Michael N.

The online facilitation model that best suits my way of thinking and teaching is synchronous teacher-led instruction.  I can see that once the course is up and running, some of the apprentices will opt to try it on their own in an asynchronous fashion, but for the majority, the meeting of the minds at a specified time will afford a certain comfort zone.

My students are carpentry apprentices who have their sights fixed on getting their licence, on passing the Red Seal exam.  Their natural inclination is to learn as much about the trade as they can in order to work more efficiently on the jobsite, but they know that the licence means more money.  It is possible to be ‘all thumbs’ and still get the Red Seal, the stamp of approval.  That exclusive club tends to gather the ones who become the estimators for the job bids.  The group will appreciate and benefit from an initial face-to-face meeting where the teachers meet the students and the students meet the teachers and their peers.  This get-together (with refreshments) will be a time to get to know each other, learn about how the course will be run, and to get comfortable with the technology and the Blackboard connections.  At this time, we will form small groups (probably connecting students geographically) which can meet together at course time and/or provide support for each other when needed.

We will strive to follow Parker Palmer’s description of spaces where learning takes place – open, bounded, and hospitable (1993).  Because of the specificity of the course material, we will follow a similar pattern that we do in the classroom.  The teacher will introduce a topic, use slide presentations with accompanying audio and how-to-videos, perform sample calculations on provided diagrams and charts, and then allow the students some time to work at it on their own.  There will be the usual question and answer period at which time the students can answer each other’s questions.  They will be directed to the National Building Code of Canada to determine the restrictions under which they are allowed to work.  The actual hands-on practice will have to done at a training facility under the auspices of a licensed journeyperson.

The main benefit of online learning is the apprentice is spared the tedium of having to make the trek into the training facility and he or she can continue working and earning while taking their schooling at specified times.  Sessions will be stored and can be accessed and replayed, and participants can review the material as often as they feel the need.  The teachers will have specified ‘office’ hours for online chats and emailed questions will be answered promptly.  The teachers will be busier than usual in this new venue, so maybe at the start, there will be a technician present or a team-teaching approach will be adopted.

The administration will measure the success of the program by retention of students.  The teachers will measure the success of their work by the numbers of successful Red Seal applicants.  For these reasons, and for the immeasurable benefits of working together as a group, conducting research on the web, and finding answers without the help of others, the quality of the presentation have to be top notch.  The courses need to be completely developed before the start date, and as many kinks as possible worked out.  Online learning will be frustrated by technology glitches and inadequate preparation.  For the apprentices, it is important that the courses maintain a tight, cohesive structure.


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