27 February 2020
Enhancing Blended Learning with Google Drive
Coaching Story: Niagara College
The summer months are a blur at this point, but the memory of how excited and inspired we were after each of our Virtual Showcase sessions still energizes us and we wonder if we should do it again…
It all started with a Zoom call in 2020. “It would be great if you could organize a conference/sessions where others would share what they use and how they use it,” said Gay Douglas from Literacy Link Niagara. “And then you can spend some time training us on some of the tools discussed,” added Tina DeLuca from Niagara Catholic District School Board as we were reviewing our recent coaching project together. “It would reach and help so many other instructors and programs,” she added.
This got me thinking… Through our technology coaching services, we work directly with a selected group of programs, but what if we could open it up and make it more accessible to instructors and program coordinators who aren’t engaging with us in this way? Would that be helpful? Would there be interest?
We explored this idea at our team meetings and decided to add it to our business plan for 2021.
We were so excited when the sessions got approved in April but also a bit scared — as we had until September to make them all a reality!
With the full team support, my colleagues Tracey, Aletheia and I set out to plan, organize and deliver four AlphaPlus Virtual Showcase sessions via Zoom.
We used Google Sites to set up a website, https://virtualshowcase.alphaplus.ca, where we announced the upcoming sessions and guest presenters. Afterwards, we posted the recordings, slides and additional resources shared by the guests and participants. It’s now a great resource collection to explore! Check it out!
Our goal was to elevate and showcase how innovative programs and instructors use digital tools and approaches to connect and work with learners remotely. We realized that we often meet these amazing instructors and programs through our coaching and other projects, but this was a chance to really showcase them and in a different way. ASL interpretation services were provided and allowed the Deaf community to participate as well.
We even tried to be clever about our session titles, but it wasn’t always that easy, so we gave up after the first one. 🙂
The sessions focused on:
Each session featured three guest organizations — representing a community program, school board and college — that shared their approaches, strategies and tips on how they connect with learners and build a virtual community using online tools and resources.
We loved how guests used slides or simply shared their screens to show us their approaches and how participants got involved, asked questions and shared their own experiences and resources in the chats and breakout rooms. It really felt like a community coming together to a virtual event. The Tech Q&A part of the sessions allowed us to discuss the tools in more detail and offer additional tips. They weren’t easy sometimes, as we weren’t sure what specific information participants would want to learn, but we were thrilled to receive followup calls and emails from participants telling us how they’re trying and implementing some of the things they learned about in our sessions.
We received a lot of encouraging feedback from participants:
“Very helpful to see how others have created very useful resources for their learners and tutors. It was especially helpful to hear about challenges and possible solutions to problems.”
“The information presented will be very helpful for me to help my learners. I was not aware of there being so many resources that are out there to assist us in our everyday teaching.”
“I liked having people from the field speaking and then having some tech information at the end. It was a good combination.”
“The testimony of LBS instructors and their experience using LMS. That was terrific.”
We, as a team doing this type of showcase for the first time, learned a lot too and are sharing our reflections as lessons and tips:
Some of our guests taught us that you don’t need to use new and fancy tools to be effective. You can use and adapt existing tools too. For example, the Excel database spreadsheet shared by Leo and Denise from the Frontier College team was a great hit with participants. We got a lot of requests about it so we created a sample sheet to share their formula and are working on a video to provide more tips and details.
Should we do it again?
I’m extremely thankful to everyone — the AlphaPlus team, our guests who agreed to come out and share with others, and participants — for the support and encouragement we received. It wouldn’t be possible without all of you!
As we were wrapping up the sessions and reviewing the feedback, a question lingered… Should we do it again? What should we focus on? What would be helpful?
We decided that it might be best to ask you.
Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us using this SURVEY.
12 November 2021
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