Every curriculum area prioritises a range of resources. They need to provide in the most efficient way both the success of the learning and teaching. Using the appropriate set of resources that could be easily upgraded and updated saves time and money. At Eastleigh College I am teaching an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based course in WEB Design and Construction. Therefore the range of the resources I am using varies from the standard facilities and recourses typical for the ICT Curriculum to specially produced by me resources for this particular course in form of a Website and linked topic guides and handouts.
Part 1: Review of the range of facilities and resources
Classroom Facilities Review
Not so comfortable for
U shaped layout with 16 PCs all networking and with Internet access
Very practical layout that allows the teacher to see all the monitors while the students are working. There is need to ask the students to turn to 90/180 degrees to face the white board or the teacher.
Students at the back row need to turn around each time when there is demonstration or just when the teacher is speaking. Not comfortable for taking notes.
Pc for the teacher, connected to projector
Allows flexible approach and on-line demonstrations.
There is still need for the teacher to use the mouse.
White board / Interactive if with stylus.
Allows big display and provides excellent visibility.
It is flexible for all PC applications and On-line demonstrations.
To write directly, need to use another one .
Second classroom folding white board
Useful for writing notes.
Just behind the teacher’s desk not so accessible
B/W laser Printer – networking.
Useful for printing.
Doesn’t allow printing in colours.
Air conditioning unit
Keeps suitable temperature in the room.
Fresh air is better for the attention of the students in long sessions.
The above set up it is very comfortable for teaching groups, as there is also small ‘island’ of 2 tables and several chairs in the middle of the classroom where a group could have activities such as discussions, evaluations or portfolio work, when there is no need of Personal Computers (PCs). The use of shared area Software (Front Page 2003 and Internet Explorer) and allocated personal space on networking computers (on U drive), one projector and shared printer is the most cost effective solution and at the same time flexible and modern way of learning and practice of ICT. The software licence is also not so heavy cost wise, because it covers as a package all College PCs.
This also allows new software to be currently configured or the used one updated. There is near ICT office with a computer technician on duty and therefore immediate support if needed for the night classes. The network has also some restrictions that save lots of trouble with add ware, pop-ups or threatening viruses. At Eastleigh College there also 3 interactive fixed whiteboards, one in the room where the course is held i.e. (A sector) one in B sector and another in the Learning recourse centre in the Library area. Having the essential Optical Character recognition (OCR) and a Stylus the interactive whiteboard is ‘…the most efficient way for using Electronic Flipcharts and interactivity in teaching’. (Brunner, D. (2006))
Review of the Learning resources for the course
’Design Your Own Website’
Scheme of Work (SOW)
Up to date, follows curriculum structure and allows easy updates to the Changes in software or special requirements depending on learners’ needs after the initial assessment. Provides certain flexibility in lesson planning.
It is always fixed to the current version of software packages, licensed from the College.
Specially Designed Website – Tutorial
I have designed a website tutorial for this course which interactively demonstrates range of design models, techniques and skills. It acts as on-line Help trough the course and as a general referral for all topics. It could be very flexible and updated for every session.
It is Hyper linked to useful websites and is the essential base for building the web structure of the students’ designs. Most of the handouts and guides are based on it.
Used for recaps could be more time consuming than one-to- one support. Requires long preparation in terms of research, design, and testing. Requires current content updates.
Part 2: A WEBSITE as the main learning resource.
The course ’Design Your Own Website’ is meant to ‘…aid conceptualism’, Geoff Petty (2004) i.e. to aid the learners to develop personal designs, software application and learn design skills for World Wide Web (WWW). WWW is a visual medium for publishing information on Internet, therefore as Geoff Petty explains ‘If knowledge is understood and remembered visually, you should transmit it visually.’ (Geoff Petty (2004), p 357)
I have developed a special website-tutorial (Appendix 1) for the course that has menu items linked to every topic of the course . It is highly appreciated by all the students, because it is indispensable aid for their learning and recaps, it holds their attention and demonstrates ‘alive’ design concepts, models, techniques and tools. Using special website also shows to the learners that the tutor cares for there needs and is willing to adapt the learning content and also to make it as up-to-date as possible. Advantages and disadvantages
The website – tutorial is warmly accepted by all types of learners as it addresses different levels of ICT skills: The Activists from the group welcome the straightforward layout of the website, lists with instructions and interactive links; the Reflectors have enough time to analyse and observe the use of different design elements and therefore make their own choice for using some of them; The Theorists are very appreciative to all explanations and references as well they find it easy to develop a design model, that suits their initial ideas, having had a review of the most popular once and finally the Pragmatists are encouraged to challenge different designed skills and use a variety of tools to achieve a website design that matches their own concepts as a result.
Some learners, with special needs, such as hearing difficulties and verbal problems that I taught in two of the previous courses, found the website as visually-interactive approach very relaxed and stimulating for their creative ideas and were able to produce very good website designs. It helps the teacher immensely in providing equal opportunities to all categories of learners. As one fundamental research shows: ‘The Web’s potential for people with disabilities is truly remarkable.’ Each of the major categories of disabilities require certain types of adaptations in the design of the Web content. Most of the time, these adaptations benefit nearly everyone, not just people with disabilities. For example, people with cognitive disabilities benefit from illustrations and graphics, as well as from properly-organized content with headings, lists, and visual cues in the navigation. ‘ (Paul Bohman (2003) – www.webaim.org/intro/)
Another advantage of using a model website as a learning resource is that it shows not only the process of website design but also the whole structure of a website and provides sufficient amount of knowledge for every step of the design to be achieved to the desired level. The website as a learning resource adds a sense of real experience, of doing the real thing, that is highly efficient in gaining learners’ attention, stimulating their activities and also reinforcing or aiding their memory. It illustrates in practice the popular Dale’s Cone of Learning: ’I hear – I forget; I see – I remember; I do–I understand’
(Edgar Dale – Cone of Learning – www.cals.ncsu.edu/agexed/sae/ppt1/sld012.htm) Most of the handouts and guides are based or linked to the website-tutorial and come as an integral part of it. This approach proves to be very stimulating and helps to solve more of the elements of confusion that come naturally with the use of PC, Internet and certain type of software such as Front Page 2003. The website-tutorial is demonstrated from the PC, using either IE or FP 2003, trough projector on the whiteboard. I feel very confident in combining the website with the white board as I find it very adaptable to the variety of teaching styles, which I am using throughout that course.
Some of the possible drawbacks of using a website tutorial – as every learning resource the use of a website has some disadvantages: It is primarily based on the tutor’s design concept and reflects his/her individual views; It is based mainly on certain software version in this case – Front Page 2003 and needs to be adapted for use with other software; It could be demonstrated only trough set of equipment i. e. it is not flexible for every teaching room; Constructing a special website is very time consuming process as part of the lesson preparation – in meaning of design, testing, updating and use of tools; It ‘helps to much’ i.e. it is great source for short courses, but it provides with more ready solutions and this could be limitation to some creative ideas or in stimulating the students to solve problems by themselves. To summarize – the advantages of using the website as a main learning resource outweigh its drawbacks in favour of the contemporary, flexible and combinative approach of using visual and practical aids in teaching.