Initial research

Discussion forums via e mail

Before we formally started our action research programme, we had already begun to explore remote contact with our students by setting up a discussion forum using e mail. There were advantages to using this approach. Our learners all had college e mail addresses and were familiar with that communication channel but we found it lacked the flexibility and impact that we hoped to achieve through video conferencing.

Click below to hear Emma talk in more detail about her thoughts on this option –

Exploring Skype

Give the limitation of our discussion forums via e mail, we were interested in exploring video conferencing as a better communication channel. Through our very early discussions with our regional mentor Bob Read we learned that other colleges were exploring free video conferencing packages as a way to develop a blended learning element within their existing programmes. Bob was working on a project funded through a national programme called Learning Futures and in the project liveonlinevideo conferencing was being explored as a way for assessors to stay in touch with candidates on apprenticeship programmes. We began to research the kinds of video conferencing tools that Bob’s project was using and learned that many of the providers were using Skype. Emma had previously piloted the use of Anymeeting as a tool with her Level 3 learners but that had not been successful. We decided to investigate the use of Skype as a free video conferencing tool. However, after several discussions it became clear that the college would not allow us to download Skype software on to college computers. Although we did consider exploring other video conferencing packages, we decided to re-think our research question and look at other ways in which learning technology might improve our delivery.  Click below to hear Emma talk in more details this stage of our research –