Background: Students for Webinar Employability Skills Jisc Project
The aim of our original Jisc project, run at Abingdon and Witney College between October 2013 and April 2013, was to develop employability skills for Level 3 students in relation to using video conferencing and webinars. Students were trained to use Blackboard Collaborate, a video conferencing platform and taught the ‘soft’ skills to set up and run a webinar. We asked for employer support and 8 people responded and agreed to participate in a short webinar (15 minutes) with the theme of ‘What does an employer want from an employee?”. The students were responsible for setting up, supporting the speaker, running the webinar and occasionally troubleshooting if something went wrong.
From this experience, the students then produced a large poster on the top tips for running a webinar. This colourful poster is freely available on our blog and website. The recordings of the employer webinars (with full consent from the employers) are available to support tutorials on all aspects of employability, from CV writing to appropriate behaviour in an interview.
In addition, the students on the webinar project joined forces with a group of business students to run a regional conference at college, supported by the Jisc RSC SE, on the theme of employability skills. The students presented a workshop about the webinar project and joined in a presentation at the start of the day about participating in a Jisc project.
We hoped that the success of this project, in teaching students a 21st century digital skill that they found useful, would encourage other lecturers to take up the opportunity to embed this skill throughout the college. It turned out that most lecturers felt unable to teach this new skill. They clearly needed some support to be able to do this since the webinar platform, and skills connected with running a webinar, is fairly new.
It was fortunate that extension funding through the Jisc FE and Skills Development and Resources Programme became available for an ‘Embedding Activity’ project so from March 2014 we have built on the positive outcomes and outputs of our original project; highlighting the key employability skills identified in the webinars by the employers who took part in our project, as well as the creation of a Moodle course to support the teaching of webinar skills. By creating the Moodle course, we hope that staff will find it an easy way to gain the skills they need to set up and run a webinar and pass these skills onto their students.
Creating a blended learning webinar training course on Moodle – Collaboration, support and reviewers needed
Our aim was to produce a well structured and resourced blended learning Moodle course to teach students the skills of setting up and running a webinar as a 21st century employability skill. With this project being carried out in a typical FE college, with limited resources, and no e-Learning Design team, the course has been created by the project team with support from our local Jisc Regional Support Centre. It has been a real challenge, creating a complex Moodle course designed to support both the lecturing staff delivering the course as well as the course content for the students. This course is a project output – free to post-16 UK institutions to download and customise on individual Moodle installations. Creating something which can be understood and delivered to an unknown range of people with a variety of skills and Moodle versions was a central challenge. We needed the help and expertise of the learning technology community to be able to meet some of these challenges.
Fortunately, our proposal to run a workshop at ALT-C 2014 was successful and we knew this would be a great platform for disseminating our project. More importantly, we needed to involve the ALT community to give us feedback on our initial course design, as well as asking for ideas on how we might best support the teaching staff who are going to deliver this. We were overwhelmed by the turnout for the workshop and the support and suggestions that came from the ALT community.
The main suggestion coming from the ALT community was that we should offer the course to the widest audience possible, via Moodle.net. In addition to this suggestion, a number of participants thought that it would be very beneficial to set up a community of practice around the course with institutions resharing any updates/additions/changes they make to the course. We really liked this as an idea and feel that the blog we set up with the initial project and have continued to update, could act as a forum for this community of practice.
Finally, we needed reviewers for the draft version of the Moodle course. A posting on the ALT and the ILT Champs Jiscmail list brought immediate replies and 11 exceptional reviews. Whilst we had originally thought the course would be reviewed by a student and staff focus group gathered from within the college, it has been more helpful to have ‘fresh’ eyes from a wide range of backgrounds and other institutions to look at what we had produced and comment honestly.
The value of the ALT (and ILT Champs) Jiscmail list has reminded us once again, how fortunate we have been to have links outside of a single institution. FE is not always an easy place to do research because it is not part of the culture. Working with limited resources and in a small team means that it is vital to be able to ask for help and try out new ideas in different forums. ALT, through the conference and the mailing list, has provided us with the support and conversation we needed to overcome what might have become a serious stumbling block to the successful completion of the project in February 2015.
Students for Webinar Employability Skills and Embedded Benefits Web: https://sites.google.com/site/students4webes/
Students for Webinar Employability Skills and Embedded Benefits Blog: http://students4webes.blogspot.co.uk/
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