Rural VCE students are involved in an exciting online program to assist them and their teachers, in providing a quality Biology program for 2011. With the mentoring and support of Andrew Douch, approximately 40 rural VCE 3/4 students from eight schools are involved in an online learning program weekly. Students from Werrimul, Swifts Creek, Corryong, Camperdown, Heyfield, East Loddon, Wycheproof and Hawkesdale, along with their teachers are participating in a weekly online elluminate session; discussion on a secure website; as well as accessing podcasts.
The program utilises a blended learning approach where the students are supported within their own school by their biology teachers; they access the secure eBiology website (developed by Douchy) to participate in discussion forums, podcasts and question and answer sessions; and participate in a weekly presentation by Andrew Douch in the evening. Students have already been involved in three sessions thus far and the excitement and involvement of these students is fantastic.
Each Elluminate session is recorded, thus allowing the students to download it and listen to it many times – often on the bus to and from school. This is supplemented by the numerous podcasts that have been developed within the eBiology website.
The program is not only aimed at the students. Teachers are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the program and as their skills and knowledge of online learning delivery develops they too will present classes and tutorials within the online learning platform. It is hoped that teachers will develop sessions that will be offered at different times during the week thus allowing students to access a time which best suits them. It is also hoped that oonline tutorials will occur in the not too distant future to allow students from the eight schools to participate in discussion, clarify issues and explore assessment tasks together.
We are very grateful to Andrew for his willingness to work with the eight rural schools for the year, and to Wanganui Park SC who have agreed to release Andrew to facilitate this exciting program.
The program is supported through a partnership involving the eight schools, CEP eKids initiative and the Innovation and Next Division of DEECD.