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Virtual classrooms engage regional workers

Virtual classrooms engage regional workers – There are new learning opportunities for Wide Bay Institute of TAFE water students via recent technology advances. The phenomenon of the internet and social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and others has developed a realisation that relational networking and learning, pivotal to the success of any training, needed to be reviewed in terms of workers and how they accessed knowledge and collaboration from others in their field.

Using the global industry networking website, LinkedIn, and TAFE QLD web conferencing technology, iConnect; regional and remote students now have the ability to discuss their industry with local and international experts in their field of study through active, real time discussions. The sessions are advertised from the study courses and also sent in advance to the employers so the supervisors can help schedule work around them. Sometimes the workplace all listen using computer lightpro, speakers and microphone.

Using virtual classrooms supports the workplace in:

Maintaining productivity: as like other online learning programs, attending a web conference can be scheduled to fit in with work priorities. If the student misses a class session they can simply watch the recorded session when more convenient. You do not lose productivity for key personnel, who when traveling to conferences then have to catch-up “lost” work requirements that build up as a result of being away.

Encouraging sustainable behaviour: participating in a virtual classroom removes the requirement of car or plane travel to attend training which assists in lowering the company’s carbon footprint. For every 10 week course held with just 10 students three times a year we save almost 40 trees, and offset the carbon produced by the emissions from five metric tons of burned coal.

Increased safety: road experts have blamed Queensland’s historical socioeconomic strength for contributing to one of the worst road tolls in the nation.*

Provide a consistent message: web conferencing technology as virtual classrooms allows for a consistent training delivery to all participants, regardless of geographic location.

Students are engaged in real learning: virtual classrooms bring back interactivity lost in some online courses. Students can talk to each other and across each other; they can participate in brainstorming activities; they can be separated into groups to discuss separate topics; then bring their presentation back to the whole group. You can use the web cam to see reactions and gauge interest.

Diploma Water students working in regional Queensland, western NSW and the ACT have participated in discussions with teachers and presenters from Queensland, Syria, Jordan and California. These industry collaboration sessions are scheduled regularly to broaden the learning experience for all students who are enrolled with Wide Bay Institute of TAFE across Australia. iConnect is a web conferencing tool which allows the use of a shared whiteboard, VOIP (voice over the internet protocol), instant message texting, instant polling for surveys etc. which when facilitated effectively, immerses the students in their learning. Sessions of interest are also recorded for later viewing.

Learning is returned to the classroom as a discourse between the teacher and student and applied within a workplace setting. When training adults in the workplace through online and e-learning technologies, it is important to understand that adults like to do things, they like to be self-paced, however, they do not like to do it all on their own. The teaching therefore needs to be of a much higher standard to communicate and understand the technology. These virtual classes can also be supported with face to face delivery where negotiated.

For further information contact Tracie Regan, Senior Training Consultant, Wide Bay Institute of TAFE. Ph 07 4150 5845 | fax 07 4150 5892 | Mobile 0418 743 261

*Courier Mail article “Queensland road toll linked to state’s prosperity” by Matthew Fynes-Clinton, 04 January 2010.

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