Teaching and Learning Activities Background I currently teach an IT Essentials 2 course at Tritec Computer Training, the course is designed to teach individuals all aspects of network operating systems including web services, Linux and Windows. The IT Essentials 2 course runs for 96 hours distributed over 16 weeks (1 day per week). The IT Essentials 2 course is a very complex course and I use several teaching and learning activities so that students get the maximum benefit from the weekly sessions.
The teaching and learning activities that I use include – practical assignments, worksheets, demonstrations, handouts, presentation, discussion, practical assessment and electronic assessment. The IT Essentials 2 class usually has around 12 people enrolled on it and these people range in age, gender, ethnicity and ability, the group also consists of employed, unemployed and retired individuals. Most students who attend the IT Essentials 2 course already have significant knowledge with regard to computers and computer networks and they see the course as a natural progression route to improve their knowledge and skills.
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The learning takes place in the three domains, these are known as the cognitive domain, (knowledge of network design principles and the use of network operating systems, for example), psychomotor (configuring software as part of the network build process) and affective (building confidence, encouraging “attention to detail” and overall satisfaction) There is more than one type of learning. A committee of colleges, led by Benjamin Bloom, identified three domains of educational activities. The three domains are cognitive, affective, and psychomotor.
Since the work was produced by higher education, the words tend to be a little bigger than we are normally used to. Domains can be thought of as categories. Cognitive is for mental skills (Knowledge), affective is for growth in feelings or emotional areas (Attitude), while psychomotor is for manual or physical skills (Skills). Trainers often refer to these as KAS, SKA, or KSA (Knowledge, Attitude, and Skills). This taxonomy of learning behaviours can be thought of as “the goals of the training process. That is, after the training session, the learner should have acquires these new skills, knowledge, or attitudes. Donald Clark, http://www. nwlink. com/~donclark/hrd/bloom. html See Bibliography note 1 Review the range of teaching and learning activities available to the teacher, which can widen learners’ participation. The IT Essentials 2 course is run in a dedicate classroom, this classroom was set up to accommodate this course and each student has a computer to use. The IT Essentials 2 course also has a dedicated computer lab where the practical assignments and practical teaching sessions take place.
The labs computers are on a private internal network and do not have internet access or local area network access, this is by design and allows more flexibility when students are configuring and using the labs computers. The computers that are used to access the online material have dedicated software installed and they meet all aspects of the vendors’ requirements, these computers are the primary computers and they have full local area network and internet access, the students also use these computers for the online assessments and research.
The room was designed so that students could sit comfortably at the computers and when necessary turn and view the interactive whiteboard easily. The only real problem with the classroom is it sometimes gets a little hot, this has been raised with my line manager several times resulting in the promise of air conditioning. Appropriate teaching and learning activities might include; •Question and Answer •Interactive Presentation •Cooperative Learning •Simulations •Practical Tests •Practical Assignments Practical Demonstration (Tutor) •Practical Demonstration (Students) •Online Knowledge Assessment •Practical Assessment •Discussion •Quiz •Case Study •Homework and Self Study •Group Discussion Less appropriate activities might include; •Tutorials •Small Group Project Work Some students may be unable to attend all the sessions, this may be due to social, economic or personal circumstances, It is important to cater for these students and one way to do this is to provide material that can be taken home or accessed from home.
When students are signed up to the IT Essentials 2 course they can access their particular class from anywhere with an internet connection by logging on to the Cisco website, this site allows the students to read the online curriculum, participate in simulations, post on forums and take part in live group discussions. I also make a point of making the presentation material available in printed form. To widen participation, we must concentrate, at least initially, on those with few if any qualifications: people who usually also experience social and economic disadvantage. FEFC (1998, p8)
Use an appropriate selection from those available, during their teaching I normally do a presentation for the first twenty minutes of my teaching session, these sessions are planned so that the students do not have to use the computer and there is no interaction between computer and presentation, the reason for lack of interaction is that it can be very distracting for the students when they have to look from one to the other. After the twenty minute presentation I always engage the students in conversation and ask them what they think of the chapter that they are studying and situations that it might apply to.
The students are then allowed around twenty minutes for a question and answer session. Mixing didactic (presentations, demonstrations etc. ), participative (discussion, practical exercises, etc. ) and discovery (case study, project work etc. ) styles allows opportunities for students with a broad range of learning styles to engage with the teaching. The cycle of present/demonstrate, reflect/discuss, practice, recap/develop also seems to fit well with Kolb’s “learning cycle” (as described in Armitage et. al. 1999, p67).
It is also important to ensure that the teaching suits the motivation of the students, who “arrive in our classes with all sorts of motives for attending” (Armitage et. al. 1999, p52). One aspect of this is to ensure that the students’ “needs” are met, so that they are free to achieve Mazlow’s state of “self-actualization” (Armitage et. al. , 1999, p53) in which learning can take place. When I first taught the It Essentials 2 course I decided that I would make the presentation material available on my website (www. comlog. co. uk) this is to cater for students who prefer to follow the slides on their own computer.
When teaching the It Essentials 2 course I make a point of ensuring that the material that we have just covered has been understood and I also gather feedback to aid future development of the course and the learning materials. I always try to split the teaching sessions fifty fifty, in the morning we do the presentations, questions and answers and in the afternoon we do practical assignments and labs. A printed manual is given to the students when they first start the course and this manual covers the practical labs, it is around 200 pages and has detailed instructions for all the practical labs.
When participating in the labs the students usually work in pairs. When teaching the practical labs I also ensure that I am available for guidance and advice, I also give each student some personal time. Each student also has my personal and work email address and I also give them my messenger contact details so that they may contact me with questions or issues that the may have. Evaluate one of the activities selected and explain how they could modify/develop their teaching strategy in future
I often solicit feedback from students with the aim of gaining information that may aid reflection and evaluation, this information then aids me in modifying course materials, teaching sessions or methods. An important method of evaluating and improving teaching activities and strategies is reflection (Minton, 1997, p103). I consider myself an activist because I like doing practical demonstrations, these demonstrations involve the students on an interactive level and we often discuss the aims and objectives while we do the practical demonstrations.
In order to accommodate more learning styles I created interactive presentations that the students take part in and I devised several teaching sessions where students are required to take notes and provide solutions to various (theoretical) problems. Despite this I am aware that there is a need for me to increase my own awareness of the different learning styles and address this by including as many examples of these styles in my teaching thus increasing student participation and learning.
Bibliography Note 1 Copyright 1999 by Donald Clark Created June 5, 1999. Updated May 21, 2000. http://www. nwlink. com/~donclark/hrd/bloom. html FEFC (1998), Further Education for the New Millennium http://www. lifelonglearning. co. uk/kennedy/kennedy. pdf Armitage et. al. (1999) Teaching and Training in Post-Compulsory Education. Open University Press Minton, D. (1997) Teaching Skills in Further and Adult Education. 2nd Ed. City & Guilds.