EDDL5151              Assignment #1 : Environmental Scan            Michael Nauth

1.        In the Construction Trades and Building Science Department at Algonquin College we have two basic streams of classes.  The first is the Apprenticeship stream in which the apprentices attend classes for eight weeks of the year to complete their in-school training, on their way to writing their Certificate of Qualification exam.  At present, this training is entirely face-to-face (f2f) and it includes an almost 50% practical application component.  The second stream is the Post-Secondary one in which students enrol in construction programs in the same way as they would in other fields of study.  They are all 2-year, 4-semester programs delivered in a compressed model in 3 semesters over one calendar year.  As such they are grouped with the rest of the college programs and this year they have been designated ‘mobile’ or ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD), with several hybrid courses, several General Education online courses, and only e-textbooks.  The college plan is to expand online offering of courses and to have significant portions of programs taught off campus.  I currently teach in the Apprenticeship program but I have taught and I will be teaching the Post-Secondary courses.

I will limit my scan to the Post-Secondary program called Building Construction Technician and I will draw from the college’s Strategic Plan (2012-2017).

  • Courses are delivered in all modalities: f2f, hybrid, distance, and mobile (BYOD), with both synchronous and asynchronous interactions.
  • I have been the program coordinator and I am currently a professor.
  • All faculty have PC Laptops, some also have desktops, all e-classrooms are fully wireless and wired to the internet and have desktop computers, phones,  and multi-media projectors with the latest versions of MS Office and AutoCAD, and any program on the internet.
  • Students have a variety of laptops, tablets, and Smartphones (inc. Apple).
  • Algonquin uses Blackboard and Collaborate and Camtasia (screen capture and voice, records presentations), and access to Lynda.com for all students.
  • In-class tech help is a phone call away, almost immediate.  Faculty receive excellent service for the hardware in their offices and technical assistance from the Teaching & Learning Centre for instructional design is readily available for individual faculty or group sessions.
  • There is always tech help available for the students for logon and connectivity problems.  Tutorial and tech assistance is given by peers or by the professor of a given course.
  • There seems to be lots of funds available for hardware (especially assistive technologies), software, and training for faculty.
  • I am not sure about regulatory requirements, but we are bound by copyright laws when posting anything to BlackBoard.  We are advised against joining with the students on Facebook, and no texting from our personal smartphones.

2.       Almost all of the faculty in the Trades programs find that PD courses on using the new technology that are offered during the Christmas break and the May-June time are inadequate for gaining competence in the digital world.  With completely full course loads, course preparations and evaluations, shop and tool preparations, material orders, and 1-on-1 tutoring, there is little time to break out of the ‘box’ and try something new.  I am in a fortunate position to be able to afford a sabbatical this year and pursue the Graduate certificate in Online Teaching & Learning at TRU as well as a Master of Education program at St. FX.  And even at that I have returned to the college to help my colleagues with the training of participants in the Skills Ontario and Skills Canada competitions.  As noted in “A Technology Plan”, it is important to keep the focus squarely on people as opposed to the technology (Overbay et al, p.59).

Our group of five full-time Carpentry professors sees the benefit of using technology to enhance our teaching and we are combining our efforts to produce lessons that will help our students to grasp and apply the content of the program material.  We have all been trained in basic 2D AutoCAD and we ‘construct’ in layers the more difficult and essential components of a building and project them on the screen in class or the students can download the presentations.  Some of us have made staged video recordings of specific demonstrations.  Others have produced construction drawings using the stationary overhead camera.  Others have produced PowerPoint presentations with extensive video links to manufacturers’ sites and vetted YouTube videos.

3.       I have made PowerPoint presentations on Built-up Wood Beams, Truss construction, Hip Roof Construction, and Stair-building and posted them to Slideshare and I have had well over a thousand views.  With the help of one of my grads, I have made a video on stair-building in the carpentry shop. The quality was OK but I would like to do it again in-studio with our film-making students.  What I would really like to add to my current and future lessons is an interactive piece where the students can try their hand at completing construction drawings and performing calculations and get instantaneous feedback telling them that they are either on the right track or that gives them helpful hints to get them back on track.  I have taken several online Math courses with multiple choice answers to questions and I know that this type of instruction works well for many people.  We have the instructional design personnel at the college and I have already approached them with my ideas and they are at the ready to assist me when I am ready to go.  The construction drawings would be completed in Google Sketchup, which is much easier to learn than AutoCAD.

The other piece of hardware that I would like to procure is the IPEVO Point 2 View camera with a USB or wireless connection to a PC or Mac.  I have observed the Florist Professor doing demonstrations on flower arrangements to a class of 40 students.  With two cameras focused to the demo table and an expensive AV setup, the students were able to see the procedures clearly on the screen.  The Point 2 View (at $69) is quite inexpensive, and can easily be carried from classroom to shop.  This would be an excellent aid to demonstrating the correct setup of tools such as the jack plane and equipment such as the table saw or the jointer.

For the other lessons on the theoretical side of trade, I would want to make sure that the work that is produced can easily be viewed on a Smartphone.  It seems that all the students have Smartphones, but there are many who do not have laptops or computers at home.  I would also be able to get help from the instructional designers for the formatting for the Smartphones.

I recently attended a workshop presented by the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) at the Summit in Ottawa that was organized by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum and I learned that there they have a team of individuals whose sole responsibility is to produce lessons for their online courses in carpentry.  The professors guided and vetted the work and they were trained in the delivery of the courses and in the support of students.  We have an Inter-Provincial Common Core curriculum, a National Occupational Analysis, and a National Red Seal exam.  It would be great if we would share online resources instead of each province and each college within the province doing the same thing over and over again.



Algonquin College Strategic Plan 2012 – 2017.  Retrieved from http://www3.algonquincollege.com/reports/files/2013/03/Strategic_Plan_12_17.pdf

IPEVO Design for Learning Online Store

Retrieved from http://www.ipevo.com/prods/Point-2-View-USB-Camera

Overbay, A., Mollette, M. and Vasu, E. (2011). A Technology plan that works, Educational Leadership, 68:5, pp. 56-59.  Retrieved from




2 Comments on Environmental Scan

  1. paquino says:

    Sounds like you are very busy and you have lots of technology to learn about and experiment with. Are you finding this program is helpful with the things you are wanting to do in your courses?

  2. Michael says:

    I am too busy for my own good. Now that summer is here I have started back working in construction, albeit for charity. I have just completed a kitchen reno for Daybreak Housing (helping marginalized persons to get back on their feet and gain or regain independence), and I will be starting next week to frame houses fro Habitat for Humanity. I was hoping for more direct instruction in how to use the software and hardware. I am learning on my own, trial and error, but it takes a tremendous amount of time.

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