In order to improve the delivery of teaching to learners we had planned to greatly increase the amount of face to face training we offer to our tutors. This seemed like an easy thing to achieve initially, and we booked in the courses and sent out the invites.
It didn’t take long to see the issues which always seem to plague distributed delivery of training
Namely we struggled to deliver training courses that were in the right venues or the right times for staff, when those staff work over such a wide area and rarely from centralised points. Only the most engaged and active staff could typically make time available and this was very much ‘preaching to the converted’. How then were we to provide standardised training to this disparate group?
Our first thoughts were to create online packages through a VLE but this proved tricky as many of our staff are not on our corporate intranet, and some work so few hours that it was unreasonable to expect them to remember additional logins. We hit upon the idea of creating small modular courses and presenting these freely online as part of the TTLA project. This has worked quite well so far, though it is clear that we will need to keep adding materials in order to reach a ‘critical-mass’ where tutors will feel that it is worth their while to make use of, and ideally contribute, to our offer. The other aspect we wanted to achieve was to offer a forum or arranged web chats via a platform like Hangouts. This can certainly work but we again hit issues with buy-in from tutors as well as the inevitable problems linking people across the heterogeneous networking environments of three local authorities, numerous private sub-contractors and scores of self employed staff.
inevitable problems linking people across […] three local authorities, numerous private sub-contractors and scores of self employed staff.
A glimmer of hope though is turning to video to record screen captures. If, like me, you haven’t had to use video much over the last few years, I encourage you to give it a go as things have become very straightforward. Working in a locked down environment I have sadly been unable to find a video capture package that works both without installation (on Windows) and also runs well enough on the low powered machines we still have. Luckily this type of work is better done working from home in my experience and I can heartily recommend the excellent Icecream Screen Recorder software. This tool, despite having a strange name, is a very solid and dependable piece of software. Limited to 10 minutes of recording (which prevents me from waffling excessively), you can pay a one time £20 fee to unlock this restriction. The software is clean and simple to use and needs very little time to get used to.
The software will happily record an area of your screen if you wish, embed audio and input from your webcam and generally makes the process nice and simple. I’m always a big fan of software that doesn’t have many bell’s and whistles but gets the basics right. This is a great example.
We’ve now uploaded a small handful of instructional videos created using this tool to both our internal Drive platform as well as Youtube and had these viewed hundreds of times. Again, it’s a promising start and it takes very little time to get setup.