BOSPR Course Overview and Course Planning Assignment

GENERAL OVERVIEW –

Course to be offered over a period which will be student defined but should take no longer than 10 weeks to complete. There will be some limited student discussion forums but because of limited bandwidth this may be offered on a limited basis only. This has been covered in both 4150 and 4151.Course is offered for CCG personnel only and may be WIKI based depending on availability of federal government servers and official sanction. Course attendees will be diverse and reflect the complete range of personnel employed at ships, lifeboat stations and at shore based installations.

DACUM SHEETS – Detail goals and performance objectives. Entries annotated in red detail student assignments and supports such as thinking tools.

COURSE ICEBREAKER – The icebreaker activity will consist of the student introducing themselves and detailing their place of work, whether ship station or shore based. They will be asked to:

1.    introduce themselves;

2.    note their work history in the marine trades generally and the CCG specifically;

3.    detail any pollution prevention training they have taken in  the past;

4.    detail what their perceptions of marine pollution are;

5.    give a definition of marine pollution;

6.    detail any first-hand experience they may have had with pollution, marine or otherwise;

7.    detail what types of pollution response equipment are available at their place of work;

detail what steps they think they should take if encountering pollution in the marine environment.

The icebreaker activity is designed to ascertain where people work, their level of experience and their personal perception of marine pollution. Additionally students can give examples of pollution they have experienced and steps they think should be taken in the event of encountering marine pollution. This will enable me to get a good grasp of levels of experience and personal perceptions on the part of student and better tailor specific learning for individual students as well as a grasp of group dynamics.

SUMMARY OF TWO LESSONS

The overall course hierarchy will be as follows:

1.    Introductions, icebreaker and general course business;

2.    Case studies of oil and chemical pollution in the marine environment;

3.    Examine and contrast enabling legislation: Acts, Regulations and Rules;

4.   Examine and contrast different types of oils, chemicals and naturally occurring substances;

5.    Examine and contrast different types of pollutant spill behaviours;

6.    A practical use section of oil spill response equipment;

7.    Techniques and tactics of oil spill response in both fresh and salt water environments;

8.    An analysis of safety considerations associated with marine pollution.

The two lesson modules to be presented for EDUC 4152 will be as follows:

1.     Research, compare and contrast enabling legislation with attendant regulations and rules regarding pollution prevention. At the end of this module the student will have developed a better understanding of the regulatory framework which governs pollution in the marine environment as well as related penalties. The student will produce a written assignment which delineates how the Canada Shipping Act and Oceans Act prohibit pollution and how rules and regulations are set in place to define what is pollution, different ocean areas and zones, associated penalties and CCG compliance through membership in the International Maritime Organization and participation in the International Safety Management code.

2.    Research, prepare and present a pictorial, video or written assignment outlining the types, capabilities and uses of pollution response gear both at the student’s place of employment: (ship station or shore base) as well as locations of pollution prevention equipment at other locations. At the end of the module the student will be able to describe the capabilities of in situ equipment as well as shore based emergency response containers at various locations around the coast.

Student Supports

An essential in any course hierarchy, student supports are an integral part of any course structure. Some supports which should be in place (in no particular order) are as follows:

1.  Appropriate teacher presence such that the student never feels isolated throughout the learning process;

2.    Where possible, the encouragement of online community between students and instructor;

3.    Links to sites, videos etc, which are up-to-date and updated as needed;

4.    An LMS which is easily understood and navigable;

5.    Timely assessment practices;

6.     Appropriate feedback mechanisms which work both ways for both student and instructor;

7.    Relevant online resources: e-books, videos, links etc;

8.    A clear and unambiguous statement of course expectations and outcomes;

9.    A clearly stated policy of conduct between students and instructor such that issues such as bullying or discrimination are never tolerated.

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How Not To Teach Online…

Digital pedagogy is not a dancing monkey. It won’t do tricks on command. It won’t come obediently when called. Nobody can show us how to do it or make it happen like magic on our computer screens. There isn’t a 90-minute how-to webinar, and we can’t outsource it.

Jesse Stommel

Surfing this morning, in between the sea of data entry postings which seems to be my lot these days I came upon an interesting article on the net about how not to teach online course work. The story was posted in the journal ‘Hybrid Pedagogy’ (http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/files/How_Not_to_Teach_Online.html ) an online digital journal which examines issues of interest in the new digital age teaching discipline.

The reason this particular subject came to mind was a vagrant thought connected to a conversation I had with a colleague late last week. A co-worker is in the midst of a Masters program at the moment. She had asked me: “What pedagogy is your online course using and how do you use technology?”  to which I replied that the course was asynchronous, based in constructivist theory, using reflective writing and contributory message forums encouraging collaboration as scaffolding techniques to create a positive learning environment with a Moodle shell in the background as the LMS (or VLE if you will).

The more I thought about this though the more I felt that, while succinct, it didn’t give a completely correct description and I started wondering what actually made up my own understanding of what the pedagogy of the course work I am planning to develop actually was or is…  and whether or not there was an actual term which defines ‘online pedagogy’ which could be used effectively to describe the online learning experience, the online learning environment and it’s eventual outcomes for students and the way they learn. Do we have to seek a new definition of pedagogy or re-work an old one to fit new paradigms? How much reliance should one place on technology in relation to the new paradigm which occurs as a result of new awareness?  We are  taught that there are numerous ways to teach online course material, but seldom do we focus on what not to do… something which I thought needed examination.

Pedagogy defined is: ‘the art or science of teaching’ and ‘ preparatory training or instruction.’ (The Free Online Dictionary, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pedagogy) We know from both EDUC 4150 and 4151 that the online learning environment is very different  to the traditional face-to-face classroom. The learners are diverse as to age, culture, location, motivation, and educational background. Their technological capabilities and expectations of the educational system, especially the online versions, are manifestly different from earlier generations and the model of the instructor as the: ‘sage on the stage’ is being supplanted by ‘the guide on the side’ as more teachers and designers learn to change their approaches to better realize both empathy with and for their student’s aspirations  and drives. Online pedagogy may be better defined  as the application of tools,  processes and mechanisms which are  part of the course design and enable  the student to think, learn and synthesize information related to the course materials on a meta-cognitive level.

It stands to reason that this wide range of diversity means that we must  re-think the use of some of the tools which underpin our course design process, with a view to the 21st century and beyond. This laying out of the future education is a subtle  gift which we pass on An excellent 5 part video presentation supports and underscores the point and is available at YouTube: ‘Thinking Creatively, Teachers as Designers of Content, Technology and Pedagogy’, (1) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNoijjIrPT8, (2)-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9gB6AP3BEs,  (3) –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOYCmPUVFfs , (4) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_bgeohrV_k and (5) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-NhPA9yL3A

As noted above eLearning is manifestly different from traditional course offerings. Students are diverse and multifaceted: young and old, male and female, of all educational and cultural backgrounds; above all else self motivated. How do we give our students the best chance at positive outcomes without standing in the way and but still encourage positive learning? Three straight-forward principles are set out by Pelz in  the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks which seem to encompass best practices in relation to positive student outcomes and are as follows:

Let the students do most of the work themselves, (or,  I am a LAZY teacher…)

An important lesson in any adult education program, this is really the cornerstone of most practice: adults want a sense of ownership and/or engagement in their education . As teachers this is our obligation and something we tend to forget quickly and to the detriment of both student and instructor.

Interactivity is the heart and soul of any effective asynchronous learning activity ( or even though we are supposed be alone in the digital divide there are people out here…)

People are social creatures by nature and inclination. Unfortunately the online environment lends itself well to separation as we are no longer in the face-to-face environment which makes up the standard issue classroom. Having students interact provides several immediate benefits in that it provides social contact, promotes the learning environment and creates an atmosphere of shared purpose.

Strive for presence: social, cognitive and teaching (or, now you see me, now you don’t…)

The teacher infuses the course with life, with a sense of purpose which is not always seen. A gifted instructor will imbue the online course with his or her particular identity, while at the same time encouraging the students and giving them the room to grow and learn.

Some re-thinking must be structured around the way in which we present material, the way in which we approach the theoretical aspect of imparting knowledge,  as today’s attendees are much more inclined to want to participate and to be involved in the educational process which they feel is theirs to own and contribute to. To quote the video presentations (and Victor Hugo) …” the dominant idea of each generation would in future, be embodied in a new material…” These are three straight-forward guidelines which seem simple enough to elucidate yet are amazingly complex and far reaching in their scope.  (Pelz 2004)

We can interpret this to mean that teachers will be the catalyst for future change through design practices which take into account the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s changing student demands and expectations in the here and now. This means new learning for the teacher, overcoming old habits and predispositions in favour of new, more creative ways of designing and developing course materials for the student in the online course environment. Creativity on both the part of the teacher as facilitator and student as participant must be fostered through interaction and exchange. Group work (both large and small), the use of innovative thinking tools, Web 2.0 tools and applications, new theoretical bases and quality assurance guidelines; all must be integrated into new teaching forms which will force teachers to learn and grow as much as their students.

We must also invest the course with a sense of “Why should I take this?” among our students. As Bonnie Stewart points out so succinctly there are times, unfortunately, when we get so caught up in the whirl of technology that we forget the necessity for human presence  coupled with direction and  the idea that the course work is actually relevant to the students aspirations and educational needs.  (Stewart 2013)

Technology in one form or another reflects a society or civilization’s (there’s a difference) ability to utilize known concepts, devise new ones, formulate new knowledge from the differences and integrate the two into applied devices or techniques. This new knowledge is in turn used to the benefit of members of the parent society and may take the form of  tools or ideas. An excellent video provides a thumbnail sketch of the progression of educational technology and can be found by following this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UssFwWWsz_X9s. This is by no means exhaustive but does illustrate how the development has changed and accelerated as our ability to wield , change and produce technology has changed, especially over the past 100 or so years of the post-industrial revolution era.

With the advent of advanced technology comes increased awareness and a larger  pool of available knowledge. For students this means greater access to more material with attendant better outcomes.Teachers cannot forget that the immediacy of access to information which is the backdrop against which our online material is presented  must be tempered with a healthy dose of reality and the implicit underlying idea that, for the student there is relevance to their educational goals. Teachers must remember not to place too much reliance on the technological aspects of the course construct and remember that the online environment must have a human side.

References:

The Free Online Dictionary, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pedagogy

Stewart, B, ‘How Not To Teach Online’, as published in: HYBRID PEDAGOGY , A Digital Journal of Learning, Teaching, and Technology,  April 11, 2013,         http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/files/How_Not_to_Teach_Online.html

Pelz, B, ‘(My) Three Principles of Online Pedagogy’, Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, June 2004, Vol. 8, issue 3, https://wiki.queensu.ca/download/attachments/35193389/BillPelz-JALNv8n3.pdf

Reflection on 4151 …. afterwards

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Søren Kierkegaard

This is the first of the postings which I promised to write at the end of the last course:  EDUC4151, Design and Develop Interactive  eLearning. That course , the follow-on to 4150 (and before that PIDP) was a result of what I consider to be a somewhat crazy decision to carry on the educational  process which started with the PID program. This has meant no time for anything but course work to the disgruntlement of my wife who feels this is time less than well spent… it’s not that she is unsupportive but rather that she feels there might be other uses for the time.   But,  like most things ill-considered I am forced to admit that in retrospect the choice was a good one and not inappropriate for me.

I have found that the process of education, of learning, is definitely a love/hate relationship: I love the learning but hate the stress that getting the work done produces. There has been improvement in my learning and ability to think and write… maybe that masters program should be on my list????

So what does this mean and what have I learned over the two courses?.

  1. From a course development/ student standpoint, barriers to learning must be removed completely or reduced to minor inconveniences wherever possible.
  2. Generational differences, especially in relation to diverse populations of students with a wide age range and educational backgrounds must be appropriately considered and any issues which arise  addressed immediately.
  3. Learning styles must be taken into account through the development phase and before decisions are made regarding when (or which) behaviourist, cognitivist, constructivist or connectivist  strategies put in place.
  4. The use of ePortfolios as another assessment/learning resource must be taken into consideration wherever possible.
  5. The use and importance of message boards and posting forums should never be estimated as both an intuitive educational tool between students and an assessment instrument for during-the-course work.
  6. Quality guidelines should be considered and constantly consulted through the design, development and presentation phases of any online course.
  7. One must always take the diversity of our set of learners into consideration when designing course content. Age, education, culture, gender must all be taken into account and a level playing field must be guaranteed for all participants.
  8. A spirit of community must be fostered and encouraged as the online environment allows better outcomes for students when this spirit is promoted.
  9. My understanding of the inclusive process: community,  involvement, and engagement which is the online environment has increased and with it the development of a finer awareness of what I will expect from myself as an instructor and my students as participants.

Some other questions to ponder which Joanne has raised are:

  • How will barriers be removed, how will I ensure this process is open-ended?
  • What will I do to remain open minded to the process itself?
  • How might I support independent learners?
  • How can I balance different learning styles and get the most for (and from) my learners in the context of community and group learning?
  • Should a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for community be articulated from the beginning of any course material and how will I accomplish this?
  • Are course expectations going to change as a function of course complexity and content or as different learner qualifications emerge?
  • Will there be multiple attempts at tests allowed or is there a one time only qualification?
  • Will feedback be provided to learners regarding incorrect answers? … A very important point and worth thinking about some more.
  • SECTIONS as an analytic tool is another ‘diagnostic’ for upcoming course materials and a great way to forecast trends and get a good handle on learner backgrounds: education, culture etc.

There is obviously a tremendous amount more to learn as yet and so little available time in which to do so. The future holds as yet untold secrets but I will learn more by looking back and reflecting on what has happened and making decisions which will affect my  future endeavours.

Self Assessment

What Have I Learned?

Several things immediately come to mind: I am not a natural born reflective writer, this is a wonderful tool when used correctly, and, akin to the use of wikis blogging is a tremendously powerful method to enable people to map progress in learning. Can I use this for my students? No. The subject material that I plan to teach would not lend itself well to reflection and blogging is something that the federal government frowns upon unless sanctioned by one’s position within the organization.

Looking back through the material it is possible to see quite clearly where ‘aha’ moments are, gauge new insights and apply some lessons learned for future content as well as personal conduct in terms of my practice. Like anything worthwhile it will get better with more use and I have to remember to focus and force myself to engage in the process. Now if I could just find a little time somewhere in the day…

How Has The Blog Changed Across The Duration Of The Course?

Scanning through my blog this morning I was struck at how tentative the first few entries were. They fulfilled the requirements of the course syllabus, and were written well enough to demonstrate that the material was addressed properly but one could see the uncertainty of the first time poster. Improvement was evident from one assignment to the next and spelling mistakes and minor grammatical errors diminished as time passed.

An interesting lesson was gleaned during 4151: even though one may have taken great care with formatting the documents before publishing, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it will translate well from the Word document on your laptop to the posting screen in WordPress. I spent a fair bit of time trying to get around this apparently simple task with varying results. This has proven very frustrating and at times I despaired of ever getting things to format out properly, each and every time and I find myself dissatisfied. Even now I still see links which drag across the page in some submissions but not in others. Joanne, is there a way to deal with this or am I just seeing a fault in the service provider’s site?

Readings became easier over the duration of the course and the research part actually became entertaining. So many people and so many opinions! How to sort the real from the substandard? Suggestions would be welcomed.

As time passed I found that I was using multimedia more and more, tying links together, doing more and more research. I must learn incorporate more video links where germane to the subject being considered although that is not necessarily the easiest as there may be a paucity of resources. Coupled with the reality of limited bandwidth in the area where I live watching every piece of video just isn’t possible.

Overall marks? I feel that I demonstrated mastery of the required skills and delivered a consistent performance and rate my performance for the blog at 9.0, for the organization and layout 9.0 and for writing skills 9.0.

Basics of Oil Spill Response Course Module

Course Module Report

The purpose of this report is to cap off EDUC 4151 and analyze our students, our course’s projected needs and other factors. The first portion of this paper will examine an overview of the proposed course, which is entitled: ‘Basics of Oil Spill Response’ (or BOSR) along with learning objectives and why a wiki was chosen as the vehicle for course delivery. The final segments of the paper will examine how students will learn and be assessed, as well as a rationale for the course.

OVERVIEW                                   

BOSR is an in-house, ongoing training program used to familiarize CCG employees with the supporting legislation, policy, theory, equipment and tactics used to deal with environmental issues related to pollution. This proposed segment of the course will be used both for new entry level employees and for those who have not participated in ER training in the past one to two years.

There are 3 proposed components:

  • one segment dealing with legislation, regulations, and basic equipment delivered online;
  • the second addressing further theoretical considerations, potentially delivered online (not detailed in this report) ;
  • the final section which involves in-the-field training only.

The proposed wiki based course is perceived as filling a need, giving learners on ships and at remote stations an alternative to traditional course offerings for some of the material, potentially saving money and better utilizing practical course work offerings which are problematic with regards to scheduling. Informal surveys of management, officers and crew have indicated a definite interest for the presentation of this course in an online format as there is a perceived need and the course is hard to schedule due to differing work regimes between ships, stations, and shore based personnel. Additionally, there is an economy to be realized from not having emergency response personnel travelling the length and breadth of the Western Region delivering entry level training which could be better delivered online at the student’s time and place of choosing.

Learning Objectives :

At the end of this training module students will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast the Pollution Prevention Regulations, Arctic Pollution Prevention Regulations and the use of the  ISM  code as it applies to CCG   employees;
  • Exhibit knowledge of the penalties associated with polluting the environment;
  • Apply knowledge of the Pollution Response Network through the creation of a thinking tool,
  • Create a text document, video or pictorial essay indicating knowledge of basic pollution response gear,  it’s use and capabilities;
  • Contribute to a knowledge-based wiki through posting of assignments and participation in message forums.

Why a Wiki?

This online environment was chosen as the platform for this course for the reasons as listed below:

  • It provides a secure online learning resource which is for CCG employees only;
  • It requires no special programming or coding knowledge;
  • It is a collaborative environment which is particularly suited to the online course format as chosen;
  • It is geared for students to be able to access the course at any time they choose when  on a government network;
  • This type of learning is supported and encouraged by departmental and government learning policies.

Course Content

Students will cover the course content by following a set of lessons and exercises which encourage and support knowledge of the hierarchy of acts, rules, and regulations as well as penalties which underpin and enable pollution prevention.  Students will learn the pollution response network: who to contact and when, as well as the basic equipment (and it’s capabilities)  used in the context of environmental response.

The first assignment involves the comparison and contrasting of the various pieces of legislation and internal regulations which enable environmental protection and response. Several diagrams, reading assignments and lists aid in this task as well as web links are provided for the Justice Laws website for legislative references. Penalties, also a part of the legislative framework are included in this portion of the lesson. Internal network links for the International Safety Management  Code, the CCG Fleet Safety and Security Manual and other relevant CCG policy instruments are provided for further background knowledge.

The second activity is a fill-in-the-blanks-list detailing the pollution response network which is saved for future reference. There is also a crossword puzzle exercise as another the knowledge check activity .

The third assignment, the construction of a thinking tool which illustrates the Pollution Response Network is achieved as students are given reading assignments and tasked to construct a thinking tool: a diagram, list or cycle drawing which they will submit to the wiki.

The fourth and final assignment will consist of the creation of a text document, a video essay (where the capability exists), or a photo essay which details what pollution response gear is available at a particular station or ship where the member serves or has served. There will be readings and pictorial resources to draw upon which show the standard gear which can be expected to be found on a ship or at a station, as well as the capabilities and operating characteristics of the various pieces of equipment.

Assessment Instruments

There will be three distinct types of assessment for this first section all of which will be based in a collaborative wiki. Testing will consist of:

1)    – A quiz comprised of 20 questions: 6  multiple choice, 10 fill in the blank questions and 4 long answer questions covering basic enabling legislation and regulations, and the penalties associated with marine pollution. Each question is worth ½ a mark with the passing grade being 70%.  Answer keys will be available from the vessel’s chief officer or OIC of the station, or online. This portion of the course is worth 10% of the total marks.

2)    – The construction of a thinking tool drawn either from the online course site or another source of the student’s choosing, which illustrates understanding of the pollution response network. This tool may be a Venn diagram, a flow chart or a straight forward list and will detail the hierarchy of notification in pollution response. This diagram will be posted to the wiki. This portion of the course will be worth 5 % of the total marks.

3)    – The identification and classification of various types of pollution response gear from photographs or video footage in place on the wiki and/or from equipment found aboard the student’s ship, the station or shore based installation. Students  will then document the function of the equipment in relation to types and volume of spill using a Word document submission, or video file. Alternately, a submission of a photo or video essay showing how in situ equipment found at the station or ship or at other locations has been used. Students will be encouraged to record their impressions and post them along with their assignment which will become part of the ‘lessons learned’ page of the wiki which will also be used as a training resource by other participants at ships or on stations and shore side. This portion of the course is worth 20% of the total marks. A grading rubric will be developed to rate the submissions.

Rationale

This online course is planned for the reasons which follow:

  • Online training follows federal government policy statements regarding the provision of all types of appropriate training to employees;
  • There is a perceived need on the part of CCG management for online course work to allow people to be more actively involved in their training from the start of their career;
  • Online training allows for the development of ePortfolios which invests learners in the training process and eases the burden on a system already weighed down with bureaucracy,  this is a program under development at the time of writing;
  • Online training allows personnel in remote locations and on ships to participate in required on-the-job orientation or recertification which might otherwise be problematic to schedule;
  • An informal pre-formative study has shown there has been expressed interest from personnel in the CCG fleet and at stations regarding the provision of this type of online training;
  • This type of training saves money and time as it enables pollution control officers to evaluate pre-formatively, formatively and summatively and therefore allow them to better plan hands-on training for personnel at shore side and shipboard locations;
  • Online training allows personnel to work at their own pace, at the time of their choosing and either separately or in small groups with the associated educational benefits for both employee and employer;
  • This type of training also encourages collaborative work with the associated positive educational benefits.

Conclusion

Research has shown that online training may reduce costs, allows students to learn at their own pace, at the time of their choosing, with  better outcomes. This type of training is supported by the federal government through policy and directives. BOSR is an example of a program which has segments which may be more appropriately delivered online, potentially saving money, freeing up personnel to commit to other segments of related course materials and giving valuable data on which to establish other online offerings.

As wikis have  proven to be excellent tools for collaborative online work it was chosen as the vehicle for this offering. Given the sense of inherent community in the structure of the CCG it is felt that this is the perfect instrument to encourage collaboration and learning amongst CCG personnel.

There are potential problems (diverse ages and educational qualifications, and bandwidth for instance) but it is felt that these are not insurmountable. Some training in the use of the wiki based environment may be required although my feeling is that most people are tech savvy enough to pick their way through the wiki site with ease.

Students will have several different types of assignments, all chosen to challenge and encourage the learning process, especially at higher levels. Testing methods were chosen for the same reason: assessments will involve gauging the quality of submissions to demonstrate levels of understanding and retention.

Nothing is perfect in first run courses and I expect this one to be no different than any others. Mistakes will be made, that is the nature of design and presentation of first time online content. It is my hope that the insights I have gained from 4150 and 4151 will enable me to make as few mistakes as are humanly possible, and learn from the ones which do occur.

SECTIONS Analysis Report

This is one of the last parts of the course! It has been a long slog and I was forced to ask for an extension to get the work finished… Thank you Joanne!

S.E.C.T.I.O.N.S Analysis Report

The purpose of this report is to cap off 4151 and analyze our students, our course’s projected needs and other factors. The proposed course is entitled: ‘Basics of Oil Spill Response’ and is the Coast Guard’s in-house training program  for pollution response. This paper will take an in-depth approach to assessing feasibility concerns through the use an analytic tool known as SECTIONS as defined by Bates and Poole in 2003 to determine feasibility issues in online course offerings.

S.E.C.T.I.O.N.S stands for: Students,   Ease-of-use, Content, Teaching and Learning, Interactivity, Organizational Issues, Novelty, and Speed, This portion of the assignment will examine each of these subjects in the context of online learning and the students we hope to attract and educate. Let’s look at SECTIONS and how it applies to online course work and the course which I am planning: Basics of Oil Spill Response.

STUDENTS

Our students are a diverse and interesting group of people, who fulfill an important role as public servants, yet for the most part (unless needed during Search and Rescue incidents), are out of the public eye. Their ages will range across the spectrum for working adults, from 18 – 65 and are both male and female in an approximate 90% to 10% representation. This relationship has changed (albeit slowly)  during the time I have been a member of the CCG with women moving from more ‘traditional’ roles  such as stewards and cooks to more non-traditional roles such as engineers and navigating officers.

Our students have varying access to technology depending on location, be it ships or shore based. Computer access is restricted in some places and for ships especially bandwidth is a real problem. This  problem  means that as the designer I will be forced to create several ‘fall back’ alternates for personnel who are in a position to not have full time access from their work location. Another concern is as simple as being aware that some segments of our network, again specifically the ships, still run on an outdated operating system meaning care must be taken with some video file submissions etc.  Given the wide age range and educational backgrounds other considerations will be adjusting course content and expectations so learners are sufficiently challenged without being alienated.

Ease of Use

In order to not confuse either ourselves or our students it is necessary to understand that the technology we use, whether hardware or software, needs to be straightforward and seamless in it’s use. This enables course delivery which allows  best possible outcomes for students. As well, students should perceive that the teacher is completely conversant with both facets of the technology being used, giving them the confidence to approach their online learning course with  the perception there is both ease of use and usefulness to be derived from the information being offered (Shen et al, 2006). As online learning, especially that accessed by users in a work-related environment is an entirely voluntary process a key consideration is the client must perceive that the system as being user-friendly; geared towards an end practise which rewards the student with some form of usable work related knowledge (Thorpe & Gordon, 2012).

Cost

Every educational offering must be examined in the light of cost per student per unit of time to the educational system or entity which presents the material in order to properly assess success vs. dollars spent to determine effectiveness of program delivery. This can be confusing as not all educational groups are the same: colleges may be markedly different from universities and universities from one another. Finding a body of research which clearly states: “it costs ‘XXXX $ per student per course per year.”, is not easy as it appears there has been no real organized effort to quantify the phenomenon which is the quickly growing market for online courses.

Bates raises some interesting points and has completed a survey derived: “From tracking all the costs from a fully online master program at a large Tier 1 research university in Canada.” His contention is that the averaged cost per person per hour of instructional time  is $12.50 (+/- 20%).   At the end of his article he states: “You may well challenge the cost methodology and the assumptions that drive the costs in this example. You may also challenge the teaching model for online learning. Good: then come up with a better way of looking at the cost issue. We do need more open discussion about the costs of not just online learning, but all teaching in universities and colleges. It is lazy and unjust to merely keep increasing tuition fees rather than looking at new ways of developing and delivering programs that can reduce costs without jeopardizing the quality of teaching. This is particularly incumbent on those of us who believe in online learning.” (Bates 2011)

For my program there is as yet no established method of tracking costs as this is a purely in-house offering. This will be yet another item to added to an ever-growing list of issues to be dealt with to ensure due diligence and observation of best practices for my students, not to mention the taxpayer.

Teaching and Learning

Presenting material, especially to a group of learners as diverse as those in the CCG seagoing personnel pool means several tasks must be accomplished to ensure authentic learning. The material must be presented in a manner which captures learner  attention, is presented in multiple formats where possible, allows a certain freedom to navigate the course material and site, and encourages a sense of collaboration and community (Johnson & Aragon 2002) In BOSR all these criteria  are achieved by the use of a participatory wiki based format and varying activities. This enables me to present required course material in an easy to use manner which can be made engaging for the learner especially given the dry nature of learning rules and regulations. I feel the best assessment practices need to be standard testing; using multiple choice, short and long answer questioning methods as well as allowing the students some free rein by encouraging them to submit materials which are video or web based contributions.

Interactivity

The online environment can be dehumanizing if opportunities for interaction are not built into any course offering. Students derive better outcomes and perceive the course work as being more satisfying if there is more rather than less activity and a sense of shared community is built which encourages active learning. (Sadera et al, 2009)

There are four types of interaction in the online environment: student–to-student, student-to-instructor, student-to-content and student-to-technology and each one of these factors must be balanced in any course or the student’s chance of achieving best outcomes may be reduced. Instructors have to foster and encourage interaction at all levels such that:

  • students actively communicate both privately and in public forums with one another and the instructor;
  • course content should be such that the student is not confused as to course expectations, timelines and materials;
  • the course VLE or website should be easily navigable, functional and easily adaptive. (Mabrito, 2004)

These goals are achieved In BOSR through the use of a wiki-based course which clearly lays out expectations, allows student interactivity with one another and the instructor through both forums and message boards and allows adaptations through the use of contributory exercises. The lesson for instructors is the necessity to build interaction into course design to facilitate and enhance both communication and a sense of community.

Organizational Issues

As the CCG is a federal agency there are host of considerations which must be taken into account which might not apply to other entities such as schools, colleges, or universities. Values and ethics codes must be adhered to and students must be made aware of their obligations as a public servant clearly at the beginning of the course. The prohibition of postings on social media sites must be delineated, especially for younger people who view such issues in a more cavalier manner than their elders might. Other issues which might come to light include a prohibition on communicating with the media or other special interest groups. Moreover, the course will have to be offered on a publicly funded government ‘communities of practice’ site which has it’s own set of proscriptions and rules separate from those in the private sphere. Bottom line? The federal civil service has rules and regulations which have been specifically designed for the service and which must be considered when designing presenting or attending any online course offering.

Novelty

The technology associated with the BOSR course is relatively new to some personnel in the CCG and specifically older people rather than younger. As the course proposed is wiki-based it is incumbent on me as the designer to think and work through as many facets of the federal government’s ‘communities of practice’ site as possible prior to actual presentation and remove as many barriers as are humanly possible. This means trying to anticipate where the students may have problems, a serious concern as this is a federally provided service and anyone who has tried to navigate a federal government website finds them clunky and problematic. Instructions will of necessity have to be set out in a clear, step-by-step and complete manner which leaves no room for misinterpretation. This will probably mean the creation of a set of pages which contain screen captures with clear and unambiguous instructions, as well as the creation of a forum where students can post and receive answers to tech related questions.

This is an old face-to-face classroom course, being re-worked into a new technological base. There will be problems which I am going to have to deal with; the key will be preparation and patience. 

Speed

This course is not perceived as being time sensitive. My students work long and unusual hours in remote locations and as such this course was/is perceived as something they could work through at their own pace.  This is of course limited by bandwidth, which is a problem I noted earlier on and access to a VPN setup which can also be problematic given the nature of government servers. Computers at ships and shore installations are for the most part older, slower machines running old versions of operating systems which also poses problems for users.

Material for the course work can be changed relatively quickly as the course is all based in a wiki style format, the blessing of What You See Is What You Get sites. I imagine that the material could be handed over to another instructor provided he or she had demonstrated their ability to master the technological base of the course and had a basic familiarity with the BOSR material.

Conclusion

SECTIONS is another tool to be used in conjunction with quality assurance guidelines in the design process of online course work. I have found that my thinking has changed about some facets of the BOSR course since having started this exercise. Students’ technological abilities will have to be ascertained to ensure barriers to learning are removed as much as humanly possible. Organizational needs are going to need rigorous scrutiny and amplification so all students understand their rights and obligations. The issue of time also has to be addressed: is there going to be a finite limit on how long students will have to complete the module? More challenges… clearly the work is just beginning.

References:

Bates, T, (March 2011), as retrieved from: The Cost of Online Learning – $12.50 per hour?, Online Learning and Distance Resources, http://www.tonybates.ca/2011/03/22/the-cost-of-online-learning-12-50-an-hour/ ;

Demei Shen, James Laffey, Yimei Lin, and Xinxin Huang, Social Influence for Perceived Usefulness and Ease-of-Use of Course Delivery Systems, University of Missouri, Columbia, Journal of Interactive Online Learning, Volume 5, Number 3, Winter 2006 ISSN: 1541-4914, http://www.ncolr.org/jiol/issues/pdf/5.3.4.pdf ;

Johnson, SD & Aragon, SR (2002);  An Instructional Strategy Framework for Online Learning Environments, Unversity of Illinois, Proceedings of the Academy for Human Resource Development (pp. 1022-1029). Bowling Green, OH: AHRD, http://scholar.google.ca/scholar_url?hl=en&q=http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download%3Fdoi%3D10.1.1.114.7888%26rep%3Drep1%26type%3Dpdf&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm0FZOoYI948kFZPhDM_6_cTCEggHQ&oi=scholarr&ei=XGVLUabmCsTniwKYr4CIDg&ved=0CCsQgAMoADAA ;

Mabrito, M. 2004. Guidelines for establishing interactivity in online courses. Innovate 1 (2). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=12 ;

Sadera, WA,, Robertson, J, Song, L & Midon NM, The Role of Community in Online Learning Success, MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Vol. 5, No. 2, June 2009, http://jolt.merlot.org/vol5no2/sadera_0609.htm ;

Thorpe, M, & Gordon, J, (2012). Online learning in the workplace: A hybrid model of participation in networked, professional learning,  Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(8), 1267-1282, http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet28/thorpe.html ;

SECTIONS Analysis for Teachers; https://sites.google.com/site/sectionsanalysisforteachers/sections-analysis

Assessment Activity Plan for ‘Basics of Oil Spill Response’ course

Hello everyone,

I fought with myself about this post for quite some time as I wanted to get it right. The past few weeks have been extremely busy and I have been seriously questioning whether or not the choice of taking this course was a good one.  What follows is a sketch of the first re-working of an old CCG course offering which once held in the field at lifeboat stations and on-board ships. What was  regarded as a kind of ‘kaffeeklatsch’ course has now taken on a new life and so the course work needs to be upgraded and made more professional in scope and practice. I would appreciate your input.

Assessment Activity Plan

Course Name: Basics of Oil Spill Response

Overview

BOSR is an in-house, ongoing training program used to familiarize CCG employees with the policy, theory, equipment and tactics used to deal with environmental issues related to pollution. This course is used both for new entry level employees and for those who have not participated in ER training in the past one to two years. The proposed wiki based course plan here is perceived as filling a need, giving learners on ships and at remote stations an alternative to traditional course offerings for some of the material.

Learning Objective – Lesson:

At the end of this training module the student will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast the Pollution Prevention Regulations, Arctic Pollution Prevention Regulations and the use of the  ISM  code as it applies to the  CCG and it’s  employees;
  • Exhibit knowledge of the penalties associated with polluting the environment;
  • Apply knowledge of the Pollution Response Network through the creation of a thinking tool,
  • Create a text document, video or pictorial essay indicating knowledge of basic pollution response gear;
  • Contribute to a knowledge-base wiki through posting of assignments and participation in message forums.

The target group of students will:

  • be drawn from CCG employees based at lifeboat stations, light-stations, shore-side installations and on board CCG ships;
  • range in age from 18 – 65;
  • be both male and female;
  • be officers and ratings;
  • be drawn from both Deck and Engineering specializations as well as shore based technical personnel;
  • be both entry level and long term employees;
  • use the course as both initial on-the-job training and ongoing recertification;
  • have a diverse set of computer skills and should be able to understand and interact with online course content;

Course Assessment Instruments (a section from the course)

The purpose of this portion of the course is to enable you to understand the basics of environmental spill response, the attendant enabling legislation, rules, regulations, and penalties associated with polluting.  As well, you will learn who to notify and when, if you are on the scene of a pollution incident which has occurred in the marine environment while working with the CCG. You may choose to work on the material alone with a lesser passing grade requirement (70%) or work in groups which has a higher passing grade (80%) but will also ensure a better understanding of the material being presented.

You will be working with a ‘wiki’ to enter your assignments into a collaborative database which other people in the fleet and stations will contribute to as well. Your personal information or identity will not be shared however, unless you choose to do so. You will also enter your training information into an ‘ePortfolio’ which is an electronic record of your training and certifications.

The wiki is yours so please contribute to it as much and as often as you want.  Ask questions of the instructor(s), of other students and post opinions, photos or video files. This is your site and we want you to find it as user friendly as possible. This freedom doesn’t come without caveats however: remember that you are a public servant and bound by strict end user agreements which limit what and where you can share the material you contribute. We ask that you remain respectful of others at all times and behave in the manner which is clearly set out in the Values and Ethics guidelines. There will be zero tolerance policy for any untoward behaviour. If you feel that you have been treated inappropriately contact your instructor immediately.

There will be three distinct types of assessment for this first section all of which will be based in a collaborative wiki. Testing will consist of:

1)    – A quiz comprised of 20 questions: 6  multiple choice, 10 fill in the blank questions and 4 long answer questions covering basic enabling legislation and regulations, and the penalties associated with marine pollution. Answer keys will be available from your vessel’s chief officer or OIC of the station, or online. This portion of the course is worth 5% of the total mark, and will allow you to enter ‘complete ‘ in your OJT manual section entitled “Section A, Basics of Oil Spill Response: Legislation, rules, regulations, penalties and notification procedures associated with polluting”  and in your training ePortfolio.  Don’t forget to fill in  the feedback form that is part of the wiki: this helps us as course facilitators determine what we are doing right and wrong as well as providing us with guidance as to where we can improve the site and course work;

2)    – The construction of a thinking tool drawn either from your online course site or another source if you wish,  which outlines your understanding of the pollution response network and who to contact in the event of encountering marine pollution. This tool may be a Venn diagram, a flow chart or a straight forward list and will detail the hierarchy of notification in pollution response. Post this diagram to the wiki for others to see and use as well. This portion of the course will be worth 5 % of your final mark and will allow you to enter ‘complete’ in your OJT manual section entitled: “Section A,  Basics of Oils Spill Response: The Pollution Response Network”, and in your training ePortfolio.

3)    – The identification and classification of various types of pollution response gear from photographs or video footage in place on the wiki and/or from equipment you find around your ship, the station or shore based installation at which you work. You will then document the function of the equipment in relation to types and volume of spill using a Word document submission or video file. Alternately, you  can submit a photo or video essay showing how you would use equipment found at your station or ship or at other locations where you have been stationed. You will use as examples materials which you have onboard your vessel or at the station where you work or based from experience. Record your thoughts and post them along with your submission which will become part of the ‘lessons learned’ page of the wiki which will also be used as a training resource by other participants at ships or on stations and shoreside. This portion of the course is worth 20% of your final marks. On completion you will be able to mark as ‘finished’, “Section A, Basics of Oils Spill Response” in both your ePortfolio and your OJT Manual. Next, you will move on to the following section of the course, which is the hands-on training using the actual equipment you have at your ship or station.

Rationale

This online course is planned for the reasons which follow:

  • online training follows federal government policy statements regarding the provision of training to employees;
  • there is a perceived need on the part of CCG management for online course work to allow people to be more actively involved in their training from the start of their career;
  • online training allows for the development of ePortfolios which invests learners in the training process and eases the burden on a system already weighed down with bureaucracy,  this is a program under development at the time of writing;
  • online training allows personnel in remote locations and on ships to participate in required on-the-job orientation or recertification which might otherwise be problematic to schedule;
  • an informal pre-formative study has shown there has been expressed interest from personnel in the CCG fleet and at stations regarding the provision of this type of online training;
  • it saves money and time as it enables pollution control officers to evaluate pre-formatively, formatively and summatively and therefore how to better plan training for personnel at shore side as well as shipboard locations;
  • it allows personnel to work at their own pace, at the time of their choosing and either separately or in small groups with the associated educational benefits for both employee and employer;

There is a link between the establishment of day-to-day acquired skills such as real world problem solving, the actual ‘doing’ or completion of an educational task and the demonstration of authentic learning where we as instructors observe our students having absorbed or synthesized lesson content which applies to them personally and which they will use meaningfully in their lives.  It must be brought home to the student how the tasks and assignments we give our learners relate to real world situations. Through the use of advanced technologies, both hardware and software, we should design content which challenges our online students, encourages a sense of community; allowing them to participate and learn in new ways which change what were once static models based on the face-to-face setting. (Lombardi, 2007). As the

A primary lesson instructors learn regarding the design of course material is the link between learning and assessment: how we gauge that our students have demonstrated successful learning outcomes through the synthesis or integration of knowledge.  The combination of three distinct factors: objectives of the course, teaching methods and assessment techniques are integral to student success. (Sewell, et al, 2007) The objectives of this section of the course and teaching methods as noted above are integrated to give students a better chance of success. Assessment techniques for this course are weighted to enable instructors to gauge student progress through the pre-set phases of the course. The material is arranged to take the student through a step-by-step set of increments, each building on the knowledge gained from the last.

Pre-formative, informal studies have shown there is a need for this training and that there have been requests from a wide range of CCG personnel for this type of training. Formative assessment will be accomplished through the use of comment pages in the wiki as noted above. Formal summative assessment will occur as each student completes the testing process and has marks assigned. Gauging the overall effectiveness of this program is going to be tough as there are so many variables to consider: students at sea, students ashore, variable work cycles, oversight, and dealing with the ever present threat of cheating.

Given this course is still in the early development stages there is a tremendous amount of material to complete. The manual, which is out of date by 5 years, has to be re-written. Test banks have to be prepared and vetted, senior officers and management consulted on how, where and when they think testing should occur. Of course, the biggest issue is bandwidth and how do we get more of it to the ships and some of the stations. It’s not going to be a picnic that’s for certain. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

References:

Boettcher, Judith V, Evidence of Learning Online: Assessment Beyond The Paper, as retrieved from Campus Technology Digital Magazine, Feb 2011,  http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2011/02/23/Assessment-Beyond-The-Paper.aspx?Page=1   ;

Lombardi, Marilyn M, ‘Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview; EduCause ELI Paper 1, May 2007,  http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli300 ;

Sewell, Jeanne P, Frith, Karen H, Colvin, Martha L;‘Online Assessment Strategies: A Primer’;  MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching; Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2010; http://jolt.merlot.org/vol6no1/sewell_0310.pdf