Colleen Godinho's design narrative: The First Click is the hardest!
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31 March 2017
I was employed as a course tutor by a local school to deliver a new Adult Community Learning ITC course - BBC First Click during 2010-2012. The course was classed as Entry level 3 to level 1. This design narrative relates to the first course I delivered for the school in 2010.
The BBC set up a campaign in 2010 to encourage non-media literate people aged 55 and over to attend short, free training sessions to enable them to understand and learn how to use the Internet to enhance their lives. The emphasis was on building confidence and skills to use different types of media and technologies. The idea was to overcome the perceptions people had regarding technology being for the younger generation and to eradicate feelings of confusion about the technology.
Learners were from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The location I taught in had a high population of Nepalese immigrants who did not speak English as a first language. Group sizes were capped at 12 due to the size of the room and number of computers available .
BBC First Click courses were being delivered across the country mainly through Community Education programmes run at Community Learning Centres (CLC); the school I worked for was registered as a CLC at the time. The BBC worked in partnership with other organisations as well such as: Age Concern, UK Online Centres and Digital Unite.
The BBC provided the course materials and guide, and advertising of the initiative was aided by the BBC’s mandate in the use of radio, TV and online services. Teaching support was provided in the guide with a number of topics suggested, learning outcomes prescribed and links to interactive activities supporting the learning. It was expected that the tutors would use some if not all the materials in their delivery. The campaign ran for a two-year period.
I had to write a 3 week programme for learners to address the barriers and lack of confidence that the over 55s may have about computers and the Internet by providing an introduction to the computer system, Internet and e-mail. I was not involved in the initial contact or enrolment stage so had very little to work with in advance apart from the materials and set objectives.
Tasks were set in relation to the objectives set by the BBC, these were assessed informally through observations, task completions, discussion, online games, and question sheets.
- I started with the task of designing a Scheme of Work – I had a list of 21 objectives to achieve in a three week course! That was my first and greatest challenge. I started off trying to fit too many goals in the first week. I also needed to include an opportunity to get to know the learners and for them to get to know each other through an ice-breaking activity.
- I then researched information about ‘silver surfers’ from various sites to understand more about the interests of this age group and to design appropriate activities.
- For the ice-breaker activity I decided to use a form encouraging learners to think about what they like doing, what they think about computers and the internet and what they would like to do on the internet and the computer. I intended using some of the ideas from the forms such as an interest in Internet shopping to design an activity that could involve setting up an online shopping account.
- The ice- breaker form also required learners to rate their own computer skills from 0-10. A learner evaluation form was designed for use at the end of the course to compare with learners feelings from the beginning of the course.
- The next stage was to write session plans. These would be revised as needed.
- Although I had materials provided for me I felt that some of the activities were not challenging enough for all levels of ability and some activities such as online games may not have appealed to all my learners. So I researched alternative websites for practice skills and found that some of the partners such as Digital unite had a range of suitable material I could use. In addition I provided handouts with written explanations of topics covered available from the BBC website. This would have helped learners who find it difficult to listen and make notes at the same time.
All learners achieved their outcomes and feedback from evaluation forms indicated that learners felt more positive and confident about using the Internet in their everyday lives. The responses were so good that I was asked to write follow on courses for learners.
Generally retention rates were good as well but this was not unexpected as it was a short course.
Many of my learners were pensioners and although the course was free many did not even own a computer when they came on the course. Progress was slower for these learners than others as they could not practice their skills outside the classroom. I did suggest that they use their local library but this did not appeal to everyone and some libraries had restrictions on loan times. The importance of access to a computer is something that should have been made clear to learners at the initial guidance and enrolment stage but this was not something I had any control over.
I was surprised to see from my research that there are now more than 15 million people over the age of 50 using the Internet and many of them are now using social network sites as confirmed by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_surfer_(internet_user). This has implications for future courses as I will introduce social networking and forum content into the sessions.
As learners were happy to do ‘homework’ outside class this freed up time for me to spend on explanations such as understanding computer jargon as it was the computer ‘language’ I found from discussion, which caused the most confusion for people. This helped to break down some barriers to learning.
A number of learners were nervous about touching the equipment for fear of ‘breaking it’ I was expecting this from previous experience and usually find I spend a lot of time working individually at first with learners. To overcome this I identified the learners who were more confident in the group and positioned them with agreement next to those who needed more support. This peer teaching worked well helping both learners to gain more confidence in their abilities.
In three weeks I was not expecting miracles but was pleased to see from the feedback forms that I had broken down some barriers to learning and have added a few more ‘silver surfers’ to our population!
22:05 on 31 March 2017
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12:05 on 19 April 2017
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