Warwickshire College Leamington Centre Warwick New Road Leamington Spa

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Warwickshire College
Leamington Centre
Warwick New Road
Leamington Spa
Warwickshire
United Kingdom
CV32 5JE
Project manager
Debbie Reardon
Curriculum leader – Initial Teacher Training
Tel: 01926 318054
[email protected]
Team members
Cate Bayley – Senior Curriculum Leader – Initial Teacher Training
Carl Arrowsmith – Learning Technologist
Building Confidence and Skills in the Numeracy Minimum
Core
Introduction
Warwickshire College is one of the largest general further education
colleges in the country. It operates from six separate campuses as a result of
a series of three mergers in 12 years, the most recent of which saw the
college merge with the Pershore campus of the Pershore Group of Colleges
in August 2007.Other campuses are located in Leamington Spa, Rugby,
Henley-in-Arden, Moreton Morrell and the Trident Technology and Business
Centre which is located to the south of Leamington Spa. The college also
operates from a wide network of outreach centres.
In general the college serves the towns and villages of central, eastern and
southern Warwickshire, however in some subject areas, in particular with
regard to land-based industries, the college recruits nationally.
The immediate catchment area of the college is relatively prosperous.
Unemployment within Warwickshire is generally lower than the national rate.
The college offers courses in all 15 sector subject areas with a range of
qualifications available from pre-entry level through to higher education.
The college enrolls around 14,000 individual learners. Of these approximately
one quarter are aged 16 to 18. Around 9000 adult learners are enrolled on
part-time courses and the college also enrolls approximately 800 learners
aged 14 to 16 on a range of programmes provided in collaboration with local
schools. Apprenticeship programmes are also provided for work-based
learners.
As a consequence the college supports a large number of trainee teachers in
a wide range of subject areas as they develop their teaching skills. For many
trainees who come into the FE sector they do so looking forward to passing
on their vocational skills and knowledge to learners but are unaware of the
expectations and challenges that they will face with regard to enhancing the
basic literacy, numeracy and ICT skills of their learners. New teachers will
often find themselves timetabled to teach key skills and as a result may be
reflecting on their own level of skill and their ability to teach these skills to their
learners. The importance of these skills has been further highlighted by the
introduction of the Minimum Core for trainee teachers in the lifelong learning
sector.
At Warwickshire College the teacher training team has become aware that of
particular concern to a large number of trainees is the level of their numeracy
skills. Many initial teacher training (ITT) students lack confidence in their own
ability within areas of numeracy since it may have been some time since they
achieved their relevant qualification. As a result of this they can find it
challenging and daunting to integrate the minimum core into their teaching
and they may be uncomfortable about dealing with key skills. All of this can
and will transfer to their learners. Therefore this project was conceived as a
way of building up the skills and confidence of ITT learners so that they will be
more effective practitioners.
The general aim of the project was to support staff development by helping to
ensure that all new teaching staff are confident and competent in their own
numerical abilities. Although the project was developed specifically for
learners undertaking the Diploma In Teaching In the Lifelong Learning Sector
( DTLLS) it was hoped that if successful the material could be made more
generally available since the college is committed to developing all staff and
raising the quality of its service to all students and clients.
More specific project objectives were to produce a self study type resource
which learners could use on an ‘as and when’ basis either to remind them of
basic concepts and methods or to support delivery of key numeracy skills to
their own learners. However the team wanted to do all of this in a new and
innovative way that would serve as model for IIT learners and which could
possibly inspire them to adopt the method with their students and which would
also prompt the team to acquire new skills.
Strategies
Having decided to focus upon numeracy the challenge was to find a way of
presenting the information which was innovative, accessible and yet simple
enough to inspire others. It was at this point that the team consulted one of
the college’s Learning Technologists for their advice. The suggestion made
was that the resources could be produced and presented in a virtual form
using Camtasia Studio 5 software.
Camtasia allows the recording of all processes on the computer, screen by
screen as they happen. The process can them be played back at any time. In
this project it was proposed that Camtasia would be used to show and record
step by step calculations for solving a given problem. The software also
allows editing so that the materials recorded can be accompanied by a
spoken commentary, speech bubbles and direction arrows to add emphasis.
Click-able Flash hot spots could be included to allow users to jump to external
WebPages for additional helpful materials and practice materials. It was
hoped that by seeing the process and listening to a commentary rather than
by reading about it learners will have a more positive and long lasting learning
experience. In effect this software would allow learners to have their own
math tutor at the click of a button. Having witnesses the ease of use of
Camtasia it was decided that this was an appropriate vehicle to use and one
in which the ITT team could develop their own expertise and therefore
enhance their own skills.
Having decided upon the method of presentation the team needed to identify
key areas of content to be covered. On joining the course ITT learners have to
undertake diagnostic tests in both literacy and numeracy. The results of the
numeracy tests were analysed for common areas of weakness. Learners
were also asked to identify those areas in which they felt less confident, either
personally or in terms of teaching their learners. From this several topics were
identified; ratios, percentages, fractions, dimensions, areas, statistics and
estimating and rounding.
The next stage was to identify key concepts and methods within each of these
areas and provide a step by step guide to each (text books and the advice of
maths specialists was used to edit the material) It was decided that this guide
would be presented via PowerPoint. Once this was produced Camtasia was
used to record a click though of the presentation, thereby producing a short
video. PowerPoint was thought to be an ideal medium for this recording task
since in promoting the use of Camtasia to ITT learners many of them already
have some of their own vocational material prepared in PowerPoint format
and the team hoped that this would encourage them to take that material and
use it in Camtasia .
Having produced a video for each topic there was a desire to make it more
interactive therefore hot spots to other resources, and speech bubbles were
added. However on reviewing the video it was felt that these additions
detracted from the video since they were encouraging the viewer to jump to
other resources and therefore potentially interrupting their concentration on
the key material in the video. These were therefore replaced with pop up
questions at various intervals in the video which would serve to check
understanding of the information covered. This kept the interactivity of the
video whilst also maintaining the focus on key material. It was decided that
links to other resources should be provided separately.
When deciding on links to key resources a search of the internet revealed a
wealth of material of varying qualities. It was felt that this could be completely
overwhelming for learners and that within this project we ought to identify and
link to a small number of relevant high quality resources. After much
searching was decided to provide links to BBC Skillswise (both printable and
interactive resources), on line tutorials from QIA and worksheets produced by
awarding body VCTC which show the application of numeracy in vocational
areas. The most important aspect about these resources is that they all
provide extra support in all of the key areas that the project was covering. This
allowed us to develop consistent approach to all the topics so regardless of
whether learners were looking at the material on area or percentages they
could expect the same approach and type of material. A glossary of key terms
was also included and finally links to Teachers TV were added which present
material (videos and accompanying notes) showing the application of key
skills in vocational contexts.
Having recorded and refined all videos and decided on key resources to link
to, the learning technologist used Dreamweaver to pull everything together
and provide a professional presentation format .Finally all the material which
we called ‘Think Maths’ was loaded on to personal pen drives to make sure
that the material was portable and instantly accessible
Outcomes and Impact
The team was pleased with the package that has been produced both in term
of the content but also with regard to their presentation. (see Appendix A )The
project has received positive comments from ITT trainees. They feel that the
resources are useful for themselves but that they can also use them in the
same format with their learners. They are quick and easy reminders of key
maths aspects and the simplicity of the format has been welcomed. We wait
to see if the trainees feel more confident in their own abilities and promoting
skills development of their learners. However there have been other positive
outcomes which have added value to the project.
The use of personal pen drives has prompted some trainees to consider
making resources available in this format for their learners e.g. course
materials, handbooks, assessment tasks etc.
The use of Camtasia added an extra dimension giving the resources a more
professional feel despite the fact that they are all largely based around
PowerPoint slides. This software is easy to use and as a result some trainees
are considering taking materials which they have already developed and
giving them a new look.
The support of the Learning Technologist has been key to the development of
this project and in particular the development of ideas into reality. The role of
the Learning Technologists within the college is to support the development of
teaching and learning through the use of ILT. All ITT learners are familiar with
the learning technologist as they deliver sessions on the DTLLS course.
However when explaining how this project was developed it has served to
reinforced the role of the learning technologists and encouraged some
trainees to seek support developing their own ideas (setting up a wiki,
producing videos)
Learning Points
Overall the team feels that the project has been positively received and it is
hoped that in the future it will be able to assess more objectively whether the
aim of raising trainees’ confidence had been achieved. The project team is
very small and it has been difficult to adhere to the projected timescales. This
was partly due to an under estimation of the amount of time that would be
required to fully develop the resource with regard to collecting and collating
the source material and producing the PowerPoints This has impacted on the
team’s review of the resource and therefore the team feels that there are still
further refinements to make e.g. the addition of a commentary to the videos.
However the team’s own ICT skills have been enhanced though use of
Camtasia and there is a feeling that there is better appreciation of the anxiety
that trainees experience over their own personal skills.
The team are to work in collaboration with a basic skills specialist, to review
the material more thoroughly and at the start of the next academic year it is
proposed to reissue a more complete package with a new cohort of trainees
and to encourage them to give a more measured and fuller evaluation. It also
remains to be seen whether any trainees will use Camtasia themselves or
make more use of the Learning Technologists to help them develop their own
teaching.
Synopsis
The project focused on raising levels of trainees’ confidence in their personal
and professional numeracy skills in the light of the requirement of the
Minimum Core for trainees and the demands placed on teachers to develop
their learners’ numeracy skills through their vocational teaching.
The strategy was to produce a simple relevant and effective set of self study
resources using an innovative and inspiring method and one which trainees
could adopt for their own material.
The outcomes are yet to be fully evaluated however the team believes that it
has produced the basis of a set of materials that could not only benefit
trainees but anyone who lacks confidence in basic maths skills and concepts.
It is also hoped that the method of delivery has served as a model for
trainees.
Key words
Interactive
numeracy resources
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