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Damon Staples explaining components of the learning management system during a feedback session

WA10EL492 Breaking down Barriers through E-learning

Background
Community and Youth Training Services (CYTS) is a community-based, not-for-profit registered training organisation that delivers training in nationally acredited community services and literacy courses. It was established in 1985 to develop and coordinate training and policy for the youth sector and was soon recognised as the peak youth training body in WA. Now CYTS is a leader in providing innovative training opportunities to youth, health and community workers in metropolitan, rural and remote areas.


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Sue Hodges



CYTS caters to those students who are typically not benefited through traditional teaching methods and need to have greater support in learning. A large proportion of CYTS students lead chaotic lifestyles due to spasmodic employment (due to low skills, qualifications or work experience), family commitments, cultural/law commitments, shift work, and lack of transport. Additionally most CYTS students do not have the financial resources to purchase the course readers that are required for self paced learning.



Needs Analysis

CYTS identified among its student population over many years, a number of student needs including (but not limited to);
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Sue Hodges using eXe E-learning tool to develop online learning objects

  • A need to cater to the individual learning needs of students;
  • Provision of greater access to free resources that cater to the variety of learning style preferences of students;
  • Provision of greater choice and flexibility in learning and delivery modes;
  • Establishment of a broad base learning community to provide a support network for all students;
  • Establishment of a more efficient means of providing information and resources for all students, no matter where they live or what their financial status;
  • Provision of a means for students to submit work without cost of fear of loss of work.
  • Provision of ways for students to communicate with CYTS staff outside usual business hours

It was considered that the implementation of e-learning strategies could cater to a number if not all of these needs.
Project Aim
The primary focus of this project is to break down the barriers to learning experiences by many of our students. The aim of the project is to integrate e-learning into student learning pathways for Certificate IV in Youth Work, through providing access for students to a Learning Management System (LMS) (Moodle). This is to ensure learning options are more flexible; learning resources are more accessible with little or no cost to the student; and are and tailored to meet the individual learning needs of students. The resources will cater to the various learning preferences of students and expose them to other learning styles to assist with “learning to learn”. Through features of the LMS the project aims to develop a learning community to minimise the isolation of external students and those undertaking workplace learning.
Project Team
The project team is esentially all the staff at CYTS.
Susan Hodges is the project coordinator and resource development has been coordinated through Michelle McIntyre (CYTS's Training Coordinator). Our trainers and administrative support staff will be involved in resource development and assessment moderation and validation and our students will provide feedback on the use of developed resources.

What was done

Planning
Planning was essential to look at what we would need to make this project work.
What were our students requirements
Training
One important aspect to ensure this project worked was to ensure all the staff had the required skills to develop resources for online learning
PD sessions in online learning (mostly supplied by WestOne Services) were heavy utilised for this purpose. This included training in Moodle, eXe, ARED, Learning Design Tool, and the Resource Development Framework
Implementation
Our implementation included scheduling a project plan in MS project using a GANT Chart. breaking down major tasks into subtasks identified all the individual components of the project so that tasks could be more easily allocated

Plan

Benefits experienced by Community and Youth Training Services

Text to come

Lessons learnt

The first lesson learnt is to get started early!! This allowed oour team to identify issues early and resolve these before they impeded the progress of the project. This also provided the maximum amount of time for resource development as possible.

One of our first issues was in finalising our Moodle hosting. When we had approached our web hosting service provider with Moodle specifications they initially said these could be met at very low additonal costs. However there were less guarantees when the project was initiated.

For those interested in the technical issues, Moodle requires a minimum amount of 256MB of RAM (Random Access Memory) to run and a suggested 1GB of RAM for every 50 students likely to be logged into your Moodle site at one time. If your Moodle site is hosted on a shared server there is no guarantee how much RAM with be available to your site at any one time, depending on the traffic experienced by other sites hosted on the same server.

Additionally there were issues with upload and download limits and storage memory allocated to Moodle for the storage of recourses and information. Other issues considered were bottlenecks likely to be experienced by students trying to access the site from our premises with only one ADSL line in use. An internal server dedicated to Moodle would remove many of these issues however all the support and maintence of the server would then be up to us and our IT support.

Through further costing analysis we dicided to proceed with Moodle hosting on a shared server in the initial stage of our project, with an ultimate aim to purchase our own dedicated server in order to complete our project and expand our e-learning development.
Lets see how that goes.

The results

A long way off from this just yet….

Project Ouputs

We anticipate producing a slide show, a voice recording and assessment tools for each of the units of competency in the Certificate IV in Youth Work. Students will also have access to forums and chat rooms through Moodle. Other resource development will be explored.

Reflections and suggestions

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Framework connection

The national training system’s e-learning strategy, the Australian Flexible Learning Framework funds and supports E-learning Innovations projects which aim to embed e-learning into the national training system by supporting and enabling innovation in training design and delivery, at the state and territory level.
Our project aims to develop quality e-learning tools that can be used by our students and others undertaking study in this qualification.

In engaging in this E-learning Innovations project, the following Framework products and resources were
Text goes here….

Acknowledgement

This is a Western Australian E-learning Innovations project output, developed by Community and Youth Training services with seed funding from the Framework.


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Susan Hodges
Project Coordinator
CYTS
Breaking Down Barriers Through E-Learning
Phone: (08) 9221 4229
Email: susanhodges@cyts.org.au

For more information on the Australian Flexible Learning Framework:
Phone: (07) 3307 4700
Email:
enquiries@flexiblelearning.net.au
Website:

flexiblelearning.net.au