A problem solving approach
The Security Toolbox team at West Coast college, Western Australia, used a problem solving approach to make the learning and assessment authentic to the learner. Here is an edited interview with Cliff Eber, the project manager.
The overall approach was problem-based.
We looked at each unit in the training package and designed particular tasks for the learner. The tasks involved accessing various components of the Toolbox to get information and sometimes going outside the Toolbox to web-based areas. The learners then submitted the results of research back to the teacher.
We also included quiz-based tasks which:
- were related to all sorts of themes and simulations
- often gave immediate feedback to the learner
- were largely self-assessment tasks.
Designing authentic and stimulating material
The main challenge was to make the resource interesting. We wanted it to:
- be as realistic as possible in conveying the information and the material to the learners
- reflect a real workplace situation.
Learners’ computer skill level
We discovered from the ITAB that there are a lot of people in the security industry with no computer proficiency. To address this we:
- used a very graphic design, a lot of photos and images, lots of games
- tried to make sure that learners were stimulated while they actually did the unit
- avoided a lot of text on the screen
- used photographs of people to get them to press icons, buttons, etc, so that they were interacting a lot more with the information there
- produced an assessment tool for the teachers involved to ensure that the learners were actually at a certain proficiency before they even entered the Toolbox.
English language skills
We also found that many employees in the industry have low levels of English language proficiency. For teachers to ensure that learners had a certain level of English language proficiency to progress through this problem-based method of learning we:
- provided upfront task-based English language assessment
- situated the task in a real security environment.
A range of factors contributed to the successful development and uptake of the resource. These included:
- a knowledge of target learner group
pre-assessment of skills (computing and English language)
having a good content expert on team – the content was very well written
good communication and co-operation between development team members
- a high level of skills in the team
an ongoing testing and evaluation process.
What would we do differently?
Try to involve the ITAB a lot more - concern that we were developing something that was too locally based for a national product
Include broader testing with interstate providers.
What would we continue to do?
Have a strong content expert, good instructional design and a good, fully functional team.