One of the many issues for trades training, that is practically oriented, is how do you use virtual learning effectively?

This blog hosted by infinispark, who design and manufacture electrical training aids, looks at this issue.

Blogging about virtual delivery

This blog by Husnen Rupani, who is actually  the CEO of infinispark, and also a part-time electrical TAFE Teacher, describes his experiences in his first attempt at conducting a class remotely and how he improved make this virtual learning more engaging. In the blog, he shares a list of tools that he used and what he recommends when running a class remotely or virtually.

His first attempt at virtual delivery was because he had a cold (fortunately not COVID!) and he asked a colleague “to set up a webcam and login into the classroom computer and start the meeting.” He used computers with webcams, whiteboards with markers, and video conferencing software so that he was able to content share through communications channels such as ‘Outlook email’ and ‘Facebook messenger’. He says that he:

“loves using a whiteboard to explain concepts before getting into demonstrations because it gives the learners an opportunity to take notes their own way. Besides the class notes, the learners also had to use the learning management system (LMS) for their learning material but mainly the focus was on classroom quizzes and some assessments.”

He says his learners adapted well to this approach too!

He appreciated the support of colleagues who helped him use the technologies effectively, but what did not go so well was that:

“my feed would blur and the learners wouldn’t be able to see what I wrote. This happened a few times but they were very patient and asked me to repeat myself. The quality of the speakers in the classroom wasn’t great so they were struggling to understand me at times.

Some learners [also] did feel disconnected from me and felt disengaged.”

So, having the right technology and bandwidth is important too.

What did he learn?

He suggests three approaches:

  • Using self-paced approaches – but this may have issues for students, he thinks
  • Using check-in methods – He says: “This is similar to the self-paced method with the difference of meeting multiple times on Zoom or the preferred platform for regular catch ups to see the progress. In my opinion, this is better than complete self-paced but still not for trades learners.”

His preferred approach is to run a full virtual class. It is a “normal class where learners join the meeting at the scheduled time and engage in class as if it was a normal face-to-face class. The major difference is that we are all at our homes or home offices. This method is certainly harder and more involved than the two above but it’s much more engaging and rewarding for the learners.”

This involves computers with webcams or an iPad with Goodnotes and Airserver. He believes you also need good communications channels:

“I started creating groups in Facebook messenger and they worked really well. In fact, even now after more than 6 months, when I’m not teaching anymore, the learners are still using that messenger group to share information and ask each other questions.”

In addition, he thinks you need video conferencing software and approaches that enable you to content share. Finally, Husnen believes you need practical demonstration equipment because the students prefer “seeing the real things rather than just talking about the theory”.