K-12 Distance Ed. in NL-15: CDLI; Science Labs

An understanding of science is important, right? Think for a minute what would be essential in any science course. It’s not that we’re setting out to create a world filled with scientists. No. We want people who are ‘science literate.’ Sure, some of them will go on to pursue careers in various scientific fields but the real goal is to prepare people for life in a world in which one powerful way of knowing is through methods that are termed ‘scientific.’  So what should we put into a science course? Let’s take physics, for example (my comfort zone, sorry). At the high-school level you would certainly consider a study of topics such as:

  • Motion, including Newton’s Laws and Momentum;
  • Work, Power and Energy;
  • Electricity and Magnetism;
  • Modern Physics (Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Nuclear Physics, etc.).

All of this could be handled through lectures, watching videos, doing practice (and rather ‘mathy’) exercises and, for us oldsters, just plain curling up with a book. The problem is, by themselves, these topics skip so very much that is important in the pursuit of science. They are, in fact, more the products of science; scientific knowledge. There’s so much more. Things like:

  • Understanding the relationships between Science, Technology, Society and the Environment (In educational jargon we refer to this as STSE).
  • Adopting attitudes that support the development of scientific literacy.
  • Learning the various skills associated with scientific methods.

These are not things that can be learned effectively in in the ways outlined above. Students need to interact with the physical world, to make conjectures, to test these ideas, to put together experiments, to refine their methods, gather data then analyse and interpret it and then communicate the findings.

This brings us to the whole topic of labs.

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Many liken the south coast of Newfoundland to parts of northern Scotland. The landscape is rough; shaped by glaciation and home to numerous fjords. Inside those fjords the water and the air are so calm, so peaceful. Small wonder people come out here to get away from the madness.
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Speaking of Labs, how about a few pictures from Grey River, a place that’s used to doing labs by Distance? Recall back in January I posted on two trips taken to Francois? Well, further along the same coast lies this equally-isolated community.
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The tiny fishing community of Grey River got started here in the early 1800s and still generates decent revenue from the salmon and scallop fisheries. Though most of the coast is ice-free the somewhat brackish water here is a bit more prone to freezing than is the nearby ocean. Look at those neat broken lines in the ice. Do you wonder how they got here?
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Most likely courtesy of one of the Coast Guard ice-breaking vessels. After all, a community so dependent on the fishery can’t afford to remain ice-bound for long!
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Way, way up high in the hill above the community you can find the microwave repeaters that bring the Internet on which we depend. They are solar powered–see the panels there pointing more or less southward. The signal starts in far-away Burgeo and then is bounced through a series o dishes to the Island community of Ramea and out to here.
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As you get closer down to the water’s edge the hills start to appear a bit less steep. Don’t be fooled, though! The water is generally calm as is the air. Wait until the summer…
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Did I mention the south coast was rugged? …and the fjords?
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That’s the road to Burgeo. That road is nowhere near Grey River! It’s ploughed, though. Take a look. Here are there you will find fuel caches for the helicopter. It’s a long, long way between communities and you REALLY don’t want to break down or run out of fuel here…

People often ask me, “Do distance education students do labs?”  So, starting with the assertion that a distance education course has the very same outcomes as one done in the traditional face to face manner, there can be only one answer. Yes, the courses must have labs.

But what about guidance? Equipment? And, most importantly, safety? After all we have no choice but to use things that are very hot, very cold, caustic, sharp, pointy, heavy and often just plain icky. Oh, and it’s distance education—we’re not there in the room.

Simple—we just waved the magic want shot the magic bullet or something and it all happened easily enough. And it’s perfect!

Well, no, not exactly. The fact is, getting labs done has been one of the biggest challenges we have faced and the solutions are difficult, require a fair bit of work and are complex. But, yes, we do get them done.

The first science course we put online was grade eleven physics. The development work was done during the spring and summer of 1992. My office mate, Lloyd Gill wrote the handbooks with technical assistance from Leon Cooper. I put together the slides that were used on the telewriter (we called them telewriter pages and they were loadd onto disks then shipped to the sites were they were transferred to the hard drives of the telewriters. We could remotely bring them up and write over them using a digital pen. Hey–this was before the Internet but we did not let that stop us!) and Frank Shapleigh put together a lab manual, based primarily on the Digital Interfacing summer institutes he had conducted throughout the province in the summer of 1991. They were amazing, but we expect that from Frank. During the summer of 1992 Frank, Lloyd and I, with the assistance of the Department of Education’s video production team, produced a series of VHS demo tapes that gave the students the demonstrations we would have otherwise given live (waves on a string, beats, Doppler effect, motion, geometric optics, etc.) as well as guided demos that showed, in detail, how to do the labs. Wilbert Boone (who oversaw distance education as well as curriculum development) was also successful in obtaining federal government funding that provided our project with the digital interfacing equipment required to do the labs. That left us with this situation:

  • The course had 13 labs. Several of the labs had more than one method. For instance, the ‘work energy theorem’ lab had method A (a photogate was used to measure the speed of a cart) and method B (an untrasonic motion sensor was used to measure the speed of a cart).
  • The students were each given a handbook that had detailed instructions for doing each lab.
  • Each school was provided with sets of VHS tapes that included demos for each unit as well as detailed walk-throughs of the methods by which the labs were to be done.
  • Each school was provided with sets of digital interfacing equipment. This included a computer equipped with the software and a complete set of interfacing hardware (Vernier photogates, a Vernier multi purpose lab interface MPLI and the necessary sensors). I’m pretty sure we were Dave Vernier’s first big customer…and we still are.
  • Schools were expected to provide the ‘traditional’ lab equipment. This included things like dynamics carts, weights, balances, tuning forks, lenses, mirrors, pulleys and such. Typically the district offices assisted with equipment purchases when needed and Lloyd and I always maintained a detailed list of what was needed (right down to the catalog numbers from three Canadian suppliers) which we faxed to the schools as needed.
  • Students were expected to do the labs at the school, supervised by onsite personnel. As teachers we would support this work using the telewriter/audioconference system were using. The students would fax in the lab reports and we would grade them and return them via fax. Overall the average of the lab grades was worth 10% of the student’s mark.

Clearly we put a lot of work into this. We also put a lot of work into getting the labs done year by year. Students would need a fair bit of nagging in order to get their labs underway. Sometimes phone calls needed to be made to the local principals to get things going. We encouraged the students to work in groups as after all, most labs are such that they need to be done by teams. The problem with this was that, all too often, it was clear from the faxed in reports that the workload was lop-sided. One or two of the students at any site were doing all of the work and the remainder of the students were just copying.

So what did we do? We all persevered. Copied work was identified and students were called to task. Though it did not solve the issue it diminished it and sometimes we just had to accept partial victories. Late work was painstakingly tracked down, sometimes very late but we judged late to be better than never.

In 1993 we brought in grade twelve physics and did it all over again. In 1995 we brought in grade eleven chemistry and had to face new challenges. All things considered, high school physics labs do not need to be inherently dangerous unless, of course you expect students to throw dynamics carts at one another or eat AA batteries. Chemistry was different. Caustic and poisonous materials had to be used. High temperatures were sometimes necessary.

So off we went again: lab manuals, videos on VHS and digital interfacing as necessary. This time, though, the supervision element was much more important. In physics, frankly, we were satisfied as long as an adult was in the vicinity. In chemistry the adult had to be observing the proceedings. So we did what felt normal. We communicated this to the schools involved and required agreement that the students would be adequately supervised by teaching staff before we would agree to offer the course. The schools adapted. We also altered the labs. Andre Hudson, our original chemistry teacher (he’s still teaching chemistry online) reworked the existing labs so that less strong acids and bases could be substituted if possible. When not possible he reworked the formulations so that the materials were not highly concentrated. In several cases the labs were switched to microscale; that is the methods were altered so that only minute quantities were needed—drops instead of mililitres.

Again, no magic; just plain hard work, attention to detail and a determination to get the job done. It worked.

Well there were occasional hiccoughs. One week Lloyd was frustrated as the students were not getting the expected results in a lab. He tried time and again to help them but always the students were reporting they still could not get the required result. Finally, in desperation, he asked them to just fax in their lab notes and measurements so he could see of he could sort it out. Lloyd doesn’t use strong language so I knew something was wrong when he started muttering his worse curse, “My Blessed Moses.” repeatedly and then grabbed my sharpie in his fist and wrote in all caps across the data, “YOU NINNIES.” “Why, Lloyd?” I inquired. “Look!,” and he passed the students’ note to me. It read, “Mr. Gill, we really don’t know what’s wrong. We’ve tried and we’ve tried and we still keep getting zero percent discrepancy. What are we doing wrong?” In case you don’t know, discrepancy represents the difference between your answer and the one that was expected. The students’ results were, in fact, perfect. They just didn’t know what they were doing! A danger inherent in being too specific in your instructions…

By the early part of 2000 we were solidly on our way towards converting the content from print to web-based formats. The videos could now be embedded right in the course content. This was a great step up from the VHS tapes as we had, frankly, experienced no end of frustration with students either losing them or neglecting to take the time to watch them when they were supposed to. Andre experimented with javascript to add interaction and I experimented with Flash. We both found some success but, unfortunately, we both discovered that adding interactivity came at a huge cost of time and we really didn’t have much of that. So, after the initial course development was done, neither of us had much time to spend upgrading the interactive components. Too bad.

Here’s a few from way back in 2000: Alpha Decay, Beta Decay, Experimenting with Newton’s Second Law, Particles in a Magnetic Field, and an exploration of Kirchoff’s Voltage Rule in series and parallel circuits. I enjoyed making these but found, that as flash became more and more capable (and complex) I became less and less motivated to spend my personal time trying to keep up and moved on. Besides, implementing this new program was just about burning me out at the time anyway.

We brought Biology online in 2004. Now, in addition to hot things, caustic things, poisons, and heavy things we also had sharp and pointy objects as well a bit of ickiness. We got through that too, mostly by reworking the procedures so that things were just plain less dangerous. And yes, it was not easy but, again, we persevered.

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Sometimes a site visit is in order. Mike Sceviour oversees a titration.
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One of the nice things about using interfacing technology is that the excellent data you get can be easily displayed graphically so you can perform “what if’s.” Take a close look–that titration curve looks pretty sweet!
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When the students perform the activities not only to they ‘get’ the underlying concepts but they also develop valuable data-gathering and analysis skills. For those of you who have actually done this stuff, you also know you also learn how to construct–and more importantly, troubleshoot–appropriate apparatus.

But the expectations remained. Perhaps it’s just me getting a bit old and jaded—I began teaching in 1983 and while it really seems like the blink of an eye, I suppose it’s really been an entire generation. Nonetheless not only me, but others became increasingly aware that it was getting harder and harder to get the labs done. Fortunately we were able to bring out one final weapon: lab support instructors. Two of our people are dedicated to getting the labs done, in all courses, in all sites.

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Here’s Steve Penney. His job is to ensure that labs get done. Right now he’s demonstrating how to get a procedure started. Where are the students?
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They don’t seem to be here. But what’s with that TV thingy?
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Oh, look there they are. Kim Furey (Biology teacher) is there too.
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Steve is doing what he often does. He’s showing students in five schools how do do a lab that Kim has assigned. At their end they see Steve full screen. I minimized them to the sides–see them all arranged around Kim–to take this picture as I don’t want to show their faces :>) Teachers and students can work wonders with videoconference bridges!

Again, no magic. Steve and Della do whatever it takes. They converse regularly with their other science teaching colleagues to learn what labs are on at any particular point in time and, more importantly, to determine where there help is most needed. With this information they go to work, employing several strategies:

  • As needed, they will visit a site, bring along any required equipment and assist the students in getting labs done. On any particular visit they will likely be working with multiple students and getting several labs done in several different courses. Site visits can be costly so an intensive amount of work has to be done in the available time.
  • Videoconference technology enables the instructors to guide students through the procedures without requiring an actual visit.
  • When not doing site visits or online demos and walk-throughs they update the web-based materials, producing new demos and other materials that can be viewed asynchronously.

There’s one more thing that is now being used effectively. The Internet now contains quite a few high-quality simulations that can provide some of the benefits of a hands-on lab. Though these will never take the place of hands-on labs they are proving to be increasingly useful in quite a few areas.

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K-12 Distance Ed. In NL-14: CDLI; Layering in Videoconferencing

Sometime during 2002 Mike Mooney and Perry Ward at Memorial’s PDCS showed me a Polycom videoconferencing unit they were evaluating. Up until that time they had mostly been using Intel Team Stations for videoconferencing but had discovered some of the products from that company and had decided to evaluate them. Their initial findings were positive and they shared what they had found with me. I was quite intrigued as well and they arranged it so that I could also have a look at the equipment they had obtained.

A Familiar sight from 2005 or so: Frank Shapleigh and Bob Hipditch out in Gander. Jim Tuff (Director, CDLI), Dale Fraser and I at this end.
A Familiar sight from 2005 or so: Frank Shapleigh and Bob Hipditch out in Gander. Jim Tuff (Director, CDLI), Dale Fraser and I at this end.

Frank and I had a chance to take a good look and our initial impression was very favourable. We had several issues that might be solved through the use of the equipment. First, CDLI’s management team was divided approximately half and half between St. John’s and Gander. While we were able to conduct most of our live meetings using vClass, the software we were using for our synchronous classes we had a need for video and, at the time, good video was not supported. In addition, the Labrador School district had much the same issue with two separate board offices separated by hundreds of kilometres of dirt roads. In both cases we had to spend considerable time and money in travel between the two centres.

We discussed this among ourselves and decided to tender for four units. We placed one in each of the four locations: St. John’s, Gander, Goose Bay and Labrador City. It took a bit of configuration to get them up and running but once we did the effect was immediate. The frequent trips stopped; not because people were ordered to stop traveling, mind you, but because people decided for themselves that most of the trips were no longer necessary. As Frank Shapleigh says, “I considered giving up my Costco membership because I wasn’t driving to St. John’s every other week for work anymore.”

In 2003 we participated, along with U Toronto and U Brirtish Columbia in a 'virtual conference' on literacy. Thanks to the videoconference unit the keynote session from OISE in Toronto was two-way and the audience in St. John's could ask questions as well as see and listen.
In 2003 we participated, along with U Toronto and U British Columbia in a ‘virtual conference’ on literacy. Thanks to the videoconference unit the keynote session from OISE in Toronto was two-way and the audience in St. John’s could ask questions as well as see and listen.

Once we got comfortable using the systems for meetings between members of the leadership team we began thinking in terms of what new pedagogical tools we now could bring to bear. We immediately thought of the art courses we had and of the then fledgling experiencing music course we were developing. Good quality two-way video and audio meant students and teachers could now see what one another were doing. The experiencing music course had a small performance component and it was obvious to everyone what were the benefits to both students and instructors in this area. Likewise in art the instructors now could provide instant feedback on technique rather than doing it indirectly by looking at finished or partially finished pieces. So much better to see how things were done rather than looking at the end results!

The videoconference unit in Buchans. It wasn't there long before principal (now retired) Bernard Woodfine came up with a unique application: Schoolstock!
The videoconference unit in Buchans, around 2005. It wasn’t there long before principal (now retired) Bernard Woodfine (standing in the doorway) came up with a unique application: Schoolstock!

We therefore began outfitting the student endpoints with videoconference units, starting with Art and Music sites. Soon after, Tech. Ed. was layered in and from there we continued to the remaining sites until, eventually, every distance education school was equipped.

In 2005 we partnered with the Newfoundland Science Centre to offer a program called Science to Go to rural schools via videoconference.
In 2005 we partnered with the Newfoundland Science Centre to offer a program called Science to Go to rural schools via videoconference.
Science to go. Th Newfoundland Science Centre would ship the kit of materials out to the school and the instructor would run the ession by linking uo from the site in St. John's.
Science to go. The Newfoundland Science Centre would ship the kit of materials out to the school and the instructor Jillian Davidge would run the session by linking up from the site in St. John’s.

Stubborn technical issues came early on. Videoconference units are not the kind of things you plug in, turn on, and expect to function, just like that. It took a lot of work getting the systems to work reliably.

“But what about Skype,” you ask. “All I have to do is install the software and get a user account. From then on all I have to do is call people on my contacts list and it works.”

True enough, but there are several things about Skype:

  • The video is generally crappy and unreliable.
  • The audio is generally crappy and often garbled.
  • It is generally not permitted on enterprise networks owing to the many security risks it brings.

To get videoconferencing working on networks you have to get the IT managers onside.

  • The system has to be given a fixed IP address on the network. This may be done by statically assigning it internally or by dynamically assigning a fixed IP based on the unique Media Address Control (MAC) that every networked device has. What’s more, each IP address on the virtual private network (VPN) has to be mapped to a bona fide, Internet-facing IP address so that equipment outside that VPN can communicate with it.
  • The firewall on the network has to be made aware of the system and has to correctly pass the network traffic intended for the videoconference unit. This generally involves  ‘port mapping’ or IP mapping. If that’s not complicated enough, many VPNs actually use more than one firewall. Getting videoconference traffic successfully through a pair of firewalls can be very tricky.
  • When in use the devices use a large amount of bandwidth and the network has to be designed to give priority to the audio and video streams when necessary.

In theory, doing those things is straightforward enough from a technical perspective. Firewall and router settings are just table entries and systems administrators can do them easily enough. In reality, though, it’s just not that simple. School districts are all separate entities, each with their own policies and procedures. Furthermore there are other organizations that need to be in on It as well such as post-secondary schools that also may need to use the system. Some of the technical services are managed by third parties and, unfortunately, many of the interconnections between those district based VPNs can be through the public Internet (also known as the wild, wild west). In reality, getting the settings done took a lot of time and effort. There were quite a few growing pains encountered along the way. The various computer networks are segmented so throughput across the networks was often difficult. Worse, getting videoconference traffic from one network to another often resulted in one-way or low quality transmissions.

Generally the distance education classes went reasonably well enough because both students and teachers needed it to work and stuck with it until it did. The issues were solved and things stayed that way. Unfortunately, many of the early events we undertook that primarily involved adults did not fare so well. The adults had much less tolerance for fault in the early stages and, when they encountered the early growing pains, they were left with the impression that the system did not work. Many, unfortunately, gave up on it and never came back, even though the technical issues have been solved for years now.

In time, most of these issues have been solved. Some still remain. The two schools served by satellite-based Internet find the quality is not great. Since the signal must be bounced on a two-way trip of to a satellite located about 22,000 km above the equator there will always be a delay of approximately 0.8 seconds for the video to make the round trip. This makes the conversation a bit stilted. Our sites on frame relay do not have a whole lot of bandwidth to spare and find that videoconference sessions tend to result in general network congestion at the school so we only use it sparingly at those sites.

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Just for fun, let’s take a quick break from the discussion on videoconference and pay a quick visit to the community of Change Islands, courtesy of these pictures taken by Frank on one of his many visits.
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Yes, the students at the school there also participate in courses via distance education. People often wonder why people living in communities such as Change Islands don’t move away and go to live in larger communities where there are “more opportunities.”
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Let’s see: house by the water, ready access to walking trails with lots of berries to pick (in season of course). Great fishing. Peace and quiet. Oh…and Gander is not THAT far away. To me the only real wonder is why anyone would want to leave :>)

Videoconference units are, by default, point to point. That is, you can only call one other site. This poses a problem as many of the useful applications for teaching are multipoint in nature; that is, the instructor generally likes to combine several sites.  For a considerable extra cost many, but not all, videoconference workstations can be upgraded so that they can connect to more than one endpoint. Three plus one (3 + 1) is a common multipoint configuration. A videoconference unit that is 3 + 1 enabled is capable of connecting to three other units. In such an arrangement the users see all four locations arranged ‘Hollywood squares’ style. Usually the 3 + 1 unit is configured so that if one site speaks for an extended period then its video grows to occupy all of the screen and remains this way until that location goes silent and someone speaks at another location. When this happens the system reverts back to ‘Hollywood squares’ unless that speaker goes on for an extended period.

At first we equipped the instructor sites with units that were 3 + 1 capable so that they could bridge in as many as three different locations at a time. Generally this was good enough but not always. Some classes were comprised of more than 3 school sites. When this happened the instructors would have to break the class up and bring them on in parts.

In time we were able to purchase a videoconference bridge. This was a device whose purpose was to combine multiple sites so that the users’ own equipment did not have to do it. The first unit we purchased was able to work with any number of combinations up to a total of 32 sites. At maximum capacity, for example, we could run a large class with 32 sites or, more reasonably, 4 classes, each with 8 sites online and so on.

We rarely ran the ridge with large groups as our teaching model did not leave us with classes comprised of large numbers of sites. Typical classes have around 20 students and the number of sites is typically between 3 and 7. Very large sessions were something we used for special occasions. Some examples included:

  • Schoolstock: a yearly ‘battle of the bands’ event held for several years in  the mining town of Buchans. This was a day-long event and schools went to Buchans from all over the province to compete. On that day we would move the school’s videoconference unit to the gym and have it set to show the bands who were performing. We would leave the bridge open so that schools that sent bands could call in and listen to their bands or even talk to people at the site.
  • Lights, the Canadian performer (and others on different occasions) have generously given their time and visited a videoconference studio where we connected her to our bridge. She gave a class to all of our music students.
  • Education Week openings have been done live using the videoconference bridge. The opening ceremonies have been dispersed among a large number of participating sites and the rest, who did not play a speaking (or singing) role have been connected via one-way webcast.

In time, the original bridge began to show its age. The original one could not handle any content besides video (we could not show computer content such as slides, for example) and was not High Definition compatible. Last year we replaced it with one that added both those missing features and which also had a higher connection capacity. It was also considerably smaller. The original bridge was about the size of a ‘bar fridge.’ The new one is about the size of a typical PC.  We have observed the overall performance on the new bridge to be much better—video is clearer and smoother.

Yes, you can teach music online. Gord King does some individual work in one of his applied music classes.
Yes, you can teach music online. Gord King does some individual work in one of his applied music classes.

And time marches on. Desktop video clients, such as Microsoft® Lync™ are now sophisticated and reliable enough to be used for many of the kinds of purposes we have. Presently the CDLI is in the process of implementing its own Lync server and hopes to integrate it, using the current bridge, with its installed base of dedicated room-based videoconference units.  Desktop clients are are a good choice when it’s just people talking to people but the larger room-based systems still are best when we want to work with groups or see finer details—watching a student playing guitar, for example. The future is ‘looking’ bright.

Next: Yes, of course, CDLI students do science labs.

K-12 Distance Ed. in NL-13: CDLI; From mTeacher to mTeam (2001-2007)

The CDLI’s implementation procedures depend, to a fair extent, on support from people at the school where the students are located. In the original pilot we worked with the concept of an mTeacher (mediating teacher) being one of the school’s teachers located onsite and who would also help out with the implementation. We imagined the role as consisting of providing basic support such as the supervision of tests and ensuring that students were adequately monitored while online.

Black Tickle is a small community located off the south coast of Labrador. Years ago, during the summer its population would swell with the influs of summer fisherment who came up to 'Fish the Labrador." Mostly treeless and wind-swept outsiders are often left wondering why people would choose to life in such a place when there are so many more urban choices.
Black Tickle is a small community located off the south coast of Labrador. Years ago, during the summer its population would swell with the influx of summer fishermen who came up to ‘Fish the Labrador.” Mostly treeless, rocky and wind-swept,  outsiders are often left wondering why people would choose to life in such a place when there are so many more urban choices.
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But that all changes when you speak to the people who live here. Hardy, hard working and most of all, in love with the land. Look–can you see the clothes on the line (almost dead centre in the shot)? The people are at home here. And they want to stay.
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So what do the young people do here after school? Not too much different from young people anywhere else. Sure, there’s no downtown; no mall! But there’s a gym, there’s Xboxes everywhere and there’s satellite TV and Internet. Instead of cars the young people have quads and the snowmobiles shown in the picture. And what do they do with them???
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Couple a 150 hp engine with a 200 kg frame and you get a powerful beast that will make any Disney ride look like a merry go round.
The people of Black Tickle like their way of life. They have found ways to harmonize their interests with their surroundings. Distance education allows the young people to access the same offerings they would have if they lived in an urban centre.
The people of Black Tickle like their way of life. They have found ways to harmonize their interests with their surroundings. Distance education allows the young people to access the same offerings they would have if they lived in an urban centre.

During the spring, near the end of the pilot year I held a series of focus groups attended by the principals and mTeachers for the pilot. Doug Furey, who was serving as a program specialist assisting with the pilot in one of the districts and who was also completing his Masters of Education was visiting Memorial at the time and also asked if he could sit in on the meetings.

After the meetings got underway it became clear that not only had much been learned along the way but, much remained to be learned. To say the least, those meetings were enlightening, bringing forward problems, and as it turned out, solutions to many of them. One thing that became apparent was the range of tasks that the school found itself having to deal with. These included:

  1. Selecting students for the courses and getting them registered.
  2. Ensuring that appropriate space in the school was provided for the students when they were online. Regardless of whether this was part of the F2F class or a whole different room, the students needed a place.
  3. Liaising with CDLI; learning what was up and what was new.
  4. Supervising tests and labs.
  5. Ensuring that students were on task
  6. Communicating with eTeachers whenever there was an issue with Teaching and Learning that was affecting the students.
  7. Providing basic training on how to get online for the first time and on how to use the tools.
  8. Providing onsite tech. support. This included things like preparing trouble tickets regarding connectivity downtime, boxing up damaged equipment and unpacking and then setting up replacement equipment.
CDLI relies on onsite support. Students require adequate supervision, for example, especially for labs and tests
CDLI relies on onsite support. Students require adequate supervision, for example, especially for labs and tests

I recall that time like it was today!  I took notes of what was required on a flipchart or a whiteboard and after the list was complete it was similar to the one above but in a different order. One of the principals remarked that it was an onerous one and that eLearning at the school did come at a cost. The principal went on to say, though, that this was not to be negative—the tasks got done but we really needed to find a more organized way to do them. Another principal then followed up by noting that, based on the skills of his available staff members he has actually farmed it out. Others then weighed in to say that they had done essentially the same. Together then we looked at the required tasks and looked to classify them. The list above is fairly close to the one we wound up with in the end and based on it, Doug Furey suggested that we actually stop thinking in terms of mTeachers and, instead, focus on mTeams. That was it! With that said it all became so obvious and we quickly came up with a working description of what comprised an mTeam. It had four components.

  1. Administration: Typically done by the principal or designate, this consisted roughly of tasks 1-3 above, namely registering and selecting students and ensuring that they had an adequate, supervised space.
  2. Coaching: Typically done by an onsite teacher this consists of tasks 4-6, namely student supervision and liaising with the eTeachers as needed.
  3. Peer Support: Typically done by a more senior fellow student, this included some aspects of coaching as well as the basic training.
  4. Technical: Typically done by the district technicians with help from onsite student tutors.

In subsequent years CDLI embarked on a series of mTeam training sessions. These were done for new schools and, periodically, to refresh existing schools as personnel sometimes moved on and besides, the procedures and tools were evolving anyway. These were generally held on regional basis in district offices and were attended by Frank, Bob, Me, the nearby eTachers and some of the district’s technical staff and program specialists.

Frank--the only person who was at EVERY single mTeam session.
Frank–the only person who was at EVERY mTeam training event. In this session he is showing where to find training and other resources on our server.
Bob leads an mTeam training session. Look at him--yaffle of handouts! In all the session you will always see a mini-lab we created using laptops, just like was done in the STEM~Net days
Bob Hipditch leads an mTeam training session at Pasadena. Look at him–yaffle of handouts! In all the session you will always see a mini-lab we created using laptops, just like was done in the STEM~Net days
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Chemistry eTeacher Johnny Burke leads an mTeam training session at Stephenville. Pretty sure he is walking the teachers through how to use the exam dropbox to upload student tests.
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Math eTeacher Sadie May leads an mTeam training session in Pasadena. Note Bob Hipditch and Andrea Neville just behind her. Sadie is showing how to get an account with CDLI and how to access the learning resources we have online.
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Math eTeacher Brad Sheppard leads an mTeam trainins session in West Ste. Modeste, Labrador. Science eTeacher Morris Cooze is at the far left. Not sure but think he is starting hands-on training on how to use Elluminate Live (the synchronous tool we were using at the time).

Not only did these serve as valid conduits of information from CDLI to onsite staff but, just as importantly, the flow of information was two-way and mTeam training sessions often resulted in the unearthing and subsequent solving of issues.

Next: Other technologies and abilities have been added along the way. We’ll look at how video and videoconferencing has been layered in.

K-12 Distance Ed. in NL-12: CDLI; The MLOs (2002-2007)

Sometime during 2002 Leon discovered Camtasia. He showed it to me, along with a short software demo he had done. At the time he was working as some Tech. Ed. content and needed to prepare a tutorial on how to use some software. Camtasia, at the time (many features have been added since) recorded your screen while you did…whatever. In this case he spoke into his microphone while demonstrating the software. When he was done and stopped the recording, Camtasia chugged away for several minutes and produced a video clip of what he had done, along with his audio voice-over. It was brilliant!  What’s more the software was able to produce several different types of video files. After some experimentation we found that a Flash™ movie was the best bet as it gave a relatively small file size without making too many compromises on audio and video quality. For the next little while we used it from time to time in that manner.

I recall one of my first projects using Camtasia was to do up a series of tutorials in how to use Flash™. I think, overall, I had about 10-15 tutorials, each running about 5-10 minutes, and each showing a different topic. Now, this was a while ago—2002 was 3 years before YouTube was even out! Today you would not need to do that—just go to YouTube and enter any software tool you want in its search. You will find an abundance of these tutorials, a large fraction of which have been developed with Camtasia.

There's nothing like the view of a long, lonely stretch of the Labrador Highway to give you a feel for the distances that exist within our province.
There’s nothing like the view of a long, lonely stretch of the Labrador Highway to give you a feel for the distances that exist within our province. Sometimes it feels just like that when you start new projects or use new tools. There was quite a long road ahead after we discovered tools like Camtasia…

Recall also that we were using vClass as our synchronous tool. I haven’t mentioned it but the synchronous classes can be recorded. The recording includes all the audio and whiteboards; all the interactions, in fact. If you a play a recorded class it’s just like being there. Except, of course, you can’t expect to get your questions answered and you certainly can’t interact with your classmates. It’s quite a great thing, though, if you have to miss class–medical appointments, sick days, weather days; these all happen. In F2F you rely on notes from your classmates. With CDLI you can just access the whole class; quite a step up from borrowed notes!

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Hermitage…a long way from the Trans Canada Highway, but well worth the trip. In the end, learning to use tools like Camtasia proved equally worth it.

At around that time I had been getting a lot of requests to share the class recordings with teachers and students not enrolled in our program. Frankly I was reluctant to do so. I had valid reasons:

  • At the time we could not anonymize the recordings, (we can now) so they included the students’ names on the participants’ list and, besides, the instructors frequently referred to students on the audio stream by name. That was a serious breach of our students’ privacy.
  • Synchronous classes are not intended to be played back. To work as intended the students really need to be there at the time. The recordings are really only there if students need to refer back or review or to serve as a replacement for missed classes. They were never designed to be stand-alone teaching resources.
  • Even if the synchronous classes were structured as lectures (which they are not) we know as a profession that one-hour non-interactive lectures are not useful as teaching tools for high school students. Students tune out after only a few minutes if there is no interaction and, besides, lectures are just one (admittedly useful) tool among many that we are supposed to use if we are to meet the needs of all of our learners.
  • I had major reservations on how these recordings would be used.

Thinking back on my legacy model days I therefore began experimenting with using Camtasia to record short lessons on a whiteboard. At first I used a Wacom tablet and just recorded on the MS Paint screen, capturing only the parts I wrote in, not the tools. This gave the impression of writing on an actual, physical, whiteboard. When I showed the results to Wade Sheppard, the director he was not exactly impressed, wondering why I had not chosen to record PowerPoint instead. My handwriting is not the best. 😥  My reply was that in my distance education instructor days I’d found that the students preferred that the teachers build up the slides bit by bit rather than having a completed object; it’s less overwhelming that way.  In the end we decided to go with a hybrid model. We used PowerPoint as the basis but used transitions to bring in extra material, images and extra slides and wrote over it all with the pen.

The first development project of this type we undertook was a series of reviews prepared for some of the provincial examinations given in June of 2003. Because this was the first time and because time was rather tight for the project we did not give the developers a formal template. They were instead instructed to use black text on a white background. The results, overall, were not too bad. In only several weeks we had a workable set of review recordings, each running about 5 to 10 minutes, and about 80 for each of the 8 courses, for a grand total of around 650 tutorials. These we dubbed ‘Multimedia Learning Objects’ and the long name was soon shortened to MLOs. The name has stuck. Those recordings were quite popular among students, who said they served as useful year-end review.

My Canadian province, Newfoundland and Labrador, collaborates with the three nearby provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) on various educational projects. The umbrella organization is called CAMET (Consortium of Atlantic Ministers of Education and Training). When Wade showed the MLOs to that group there was considerable interest in developing more of them for the recently-implemented high school math curriculum. I was originally given the go ahead to develop 13 as a demo but, in the end, was able to get 372 of these produced. These covered the entire high school academic mathematics program.

This time around, with the experience of the previous project and with somewhat better timelines I was able to put in place a better workflow. It ran like this:

  • A PowerPoint template was produced, along with recording and production guidelines.
  • A competitive process was enacted to recruit prospective content developers.
  • The work was divided among the successful applicants. They were each assigned a unit or several units.
  • The developers were first expected to provide a list of MLOs that they would produce. This list would include for each MLO listed, titles, list of outcomes addressed and a brief description of the instructional plan for that MLO.
  • Each list was reviewed and modified.
  • Developers created first draft MLOs and submitted them for review.
  • Each MLO was reviewed by two sets of reviewers. One set of reviewers examined the content for mathematical accuracy and pedagogical appropriateness and the second set of reviewers looked for grammar and such.
  • Developers made the required changes and re submitted the content. This was checked.
  • A database driven website was created to host the finalized content. This content is still available online.

These MLOs received considerable use, especially in NL and NS.

Oh, and I take some pride in the fact that we had well over a thousand of these learning objects online and in use 2 years before Kahn Academy was formed.  …but I still love the idea of Kahn Academy!

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A quiet cove near Beaumont. Is it any wonder the people would much rather stay? Peace of mind is worth the price. During that CAMET project I didn’t get much peace of mind. Thinking back, maybe I was a bit over-zealous. 372 of these things was a lot in the time allocated. It was worth it in the end, though.

Here are a couple of sample MLOs:

  • Chemistry:: Done using Captivate instead of Camtasia
  • Math: From that 2003 CAMET project
  • Physics: One of the originals done in 2002
  • Physics: We have provincial Exams and have done a whole series of these that review entire previous exams. This is just one item.

One problem we found in the production workflow was that, because Camtasia actually records the screen and produces video output, correcting errors and making other required changes is quite time consuming and difficult. For the most part, the developers have to go back to the original PowerPoints, make the required fixes and then re-record the whole MLO. This, it turns out, is very difficult as, in the end you need to get things perfectly right. You cannot flub the writing and you certainly cannot make any mistakes when speaking. Besides, the phone can ring, an ambulance can drive by or a little not-to-be-ignored voice can come along, tug on your hand and ask, “Daddy, will you play with me?” right when you are in the middle of a recording.

In most cases, when they made an error in production, developers simply stopped and started over. Many ‘takes’ were usually required before an acceptable recording would be made. Only developers really know how time-consuming and frustrating this can be!

Rick Snow, one of our eTeachers who also happened to be one of the MLO developers came across an excellent solution to this whole problem while the project was underway. Rick is a curious, innovative person who is constantly searching for new methods and tools. One of the things he discovered was the recently-released software known as Captivate. It had been previously known as RoboDemo but with the new release it had added numerous enhancements. Two in particular were of great interest.

First, while Captivate allowed for the direct import of PowerPoints which, on the surface was a good thing, we found out that it only imported the slide as an image. As such it could not be edited from within Captivate if needed. Upon further investigation, though, Rick found that Captivate itself had text and basic drawing tools; enough so that the slides could be constructed from within the software. This meant that if errors were found they could be fixed directly; no tedious re-recording required!.

The second discovery was that, instead of one big ‘all or nothing’ audio track, Captivate has separate tracks. These could be done per slide or even per object on the slide. This made quite a difference! Just fix the bits that are wrong, not the whole thing.

Rick asked for permission to use Captivate instead of Camtasia and he was given it. What a difference it made!  If, after recording a project we found an error on the slides, all he had to do was open the Captivate file, fix the error and hit the ‘publish’ button to re-do the whole MLO without any further actions. If we found an error in his audio, the worst that would happen was that he would just re-record the voiceover for just that slide and then publish the MLO again.

In Rick’s case, making changes was relatively straightforward so he endured much less pain than did his fellow developers. While it was more difficult to create the slides within Captivate as its content creation tools are nowhere as sophisticated as those in PowerPoint, in the end the ability to go with more ease through the edit cycles made the real difference. From that point we shifted away from Camtasia and toward Captivate as the MLO creation tool of choice.

Note–this is not to recommend Captivate over Camtasia in general. The fact is that both are excellent, useful products each with slightly different uses. If you are considering producing learning content similar to the ones in the examples above you should evaluate both products to see which best suits your situation. While you are at it you might also take Articulate Storyline, another awesome product, for a spin.

Subsequent MLO development projects followed a similar workflow and, as Captivate has evolved, so too have the MLOs. Captivate now allows the following enhancements to be made over the originals:

  • Interactive self-tests can be added to each MLO.
  • Various interactions can be added to the slide including radio buttons, check boxes, text input boxes and such.
  • Slide navigation need no longer be linear; the software supports branching.
A bank of low-lying fog hides the beautiful community of Conne river. Sometimes you have to just boldly move into the unknown armed with only the confidence in your team mates. Together a way will be found!
A bank of low-lying fog hides the beautiful community of Conne River. Sometimes you have to just boldly move into the unknown armed with only the confidence in your team mates. Together a way will be found!

Next: Successful eLearning requires support from people at the student site. We started the pilot with the concept of an mTeacher (mediating teacher). As it turned out this was flawed and had to evolve. We dropped the idea of an mTeacher in favour of an mTeam.

K-12 Distance Ed. in NL-11: CDLI; Initial Content Development (2000-2005)

One of the first tasked tackled in CDLI’s history was the issue of content development. We did not enter into that area cold. Leon, who was initially in charge of content development had, at that point, over a decade of experience in developing content for the web and had considerable experience in developing for print as well. Besides constructing foundation documents and curriculum guides had had been one of the initial leads in developing the handbooks for the legacy model of distance education. By then I had already developed one web-based physics course and one web-based Education course. I had also authored or co-authored approximately 40 physics and math textbooks and teacher resources as well. The other content developers had considerable experience as well. Camilla, Ed and Andre, for example, had been developers of the Legacy model content for French, Math and Chemistry, respectively.

Northern Lights Academy, located in Rigolet Labrador is one of our sites. Note the satellite dish located off to the side. We've since replaced it with a land-based connection. The school is designed for northern climates. Note the raised boardwalk, for example. Far easier for clearing snow.
Northern Lights Academy, located in Rigolet Labrador is one of our sites. Note the satellite dish located off to the side. We’ve since replaced it with a land-based connection. The school is designed for northern climates. Note the raised boardwalk: Far easier for clearing snow.
Setting up the distance education room at Northern Lights Academy. Frank and Dwayne (ICT Manager with Labrador School District) are setting up the machines. Note the extensive use of glass...
Setting up the distance education room at Northern Lights Academy. Frank and Dwayne (ICT Manager with Labrador School District) are setting up the machines some time around 2004 or 2005. Note the extensive use of glass…essential in a place so far north.
See--that snow does come so it's good to have a boardwalk. Note the snowmobiles--one of the pleasures of living close to snow :>)
See–that snow does come so it’s good to have a boardwalk. Note the snowmobiles–one of the pleasures of living close to snow :>)
Looking out at toward the water from Rigolet. Can't you just feel the cold!
Looking out at toward the water from Rigolet. Can’t you just feel the cold!

Perhaps, most importantly we were aware of the limitations that existed and worked to try and ensure that these posed no major barriers. To properly set the stage recall that in 2000 there was no YouTube, FaceBook or Twitter. Content Management Systems (CMSs) such as the WordPress (which wasn’t even introduced until 3 years later in 2003) were either nonexistent or very crude. We started with these assumptions:

  • The majority of our content would be written in HTML.
  • There might be some use of video, but it would have to be low-quality and compressed owing to the lack of broadband connections.
  • The content experts would do the majority of their technical production as well so we would use templates.
  • Developers would be loaned a PC configured with development tools, which at the time consisted of Microsoft® FrontPage™ (now Expression Web), Corel® Draw™ and Adobe® Acrobat™.

We first acquired a server to host the content that was under development, a ‘dev server.’ This was a fully-functional IIS-based server but was not intended to host the content for broad consumption. It was, rather, a safe holding ground for content as it was developed. Once ready, developed courses would be copied over either to our main web server or to the content area of our Learning Management system (LMS) which was, at the time, WebCT. Each content developer would be given access to a course folder on the dev server and all prepared content was expected to be uploaded there.

Next, we met as a team of developers and discussed our needs and ideas for class learning activities. Based on this, Leon prepared a generic course development template.

The basic building block was the course. The curriculum used in any given course would be exactly as described in the curriculum guide document issued by our sister unit—the program development division. This meant that we were not in the business of Curriculum design/development but, rather, in the business of Instructional design/development.

In any given course, the topmost organizer was the Unit. Typically these would be described in the curriculum guides. Sub-units were referred to as ‘sections.’

The basic and most important organizer was the Lesson. This was intended to be a complete learning experience that encapsulated one or more specific learning outcomes. We divided each lesson into five components, and the content templates had five tabbed pages:

  • You Will Learn: A list of the curriculum outcomes for the lesson but re-worded so that they would be understandable to students. Curriculum outcomes from guides are written for teachers and often contain jargon; we fixed that to the extent we could.
  • You Should Already Know: A list of items that students were expected to know before starting the lesson. We did not necessarily try to reteach this. Mostly we just listen the items and, perhaps, linked back to the lessons where they would have been addressed, if appropriate.
  • Lesson: The actual learning content. Typically this consisted of text and graphics. In my course, grade 11 physics I included objects created using Macromedia® Flash™ as well.
  • Activities: As the name suggests, these would include additional items the student would do. In my physics course, for example, these tended to include practice questions and problems.
  • Test Yourself: A short self-assessment. In many of the courses, including Physics, this would be an interactive multiple choice powered by an open-source Javascript engine we’d come across.

The navigation structure used in the templates was based on HTML. We were careful not to use any server-side assists such as the MS FrontPage Extensions that could have been added. While these would have made the job of creating the templates much easier in the short run, in the end they would have made server maintenance impossible and would also killed interoperability with other systems.

A view into a blank template. Notice the lesson folder contains all of the pages for that lesson. Once completed that folder would also contain any images or video used in the lesson too. The 'You Will Learn' page is shown. The developer would replace the dummy text with the actual outcomes. Note the tabs for the other pages are slso shown. This blank course shell was actually located on my computer's hard drive at the time. Once ready it would be transferred up to the dev server where it could be accessed by a content developer. We generally encouraged developers to make local copies and not edit the live site.
A view into a blank template. Notice the lesson folder contains all of the pages for that lesson. Once completed that folder would also contain any images or video used in the lesson too. The ‘You Will Learn’ page is shown. The developer would replace the dummy text with the actual outcomes. Note the tabs for the other pages are also shown. This blank course shell was actually located on my computer’s hard drive at the time. Once ready it would be transferred up to the dev server where it could be accessed by a content developer. We generally encouraged developers to make local copies and not edit the live site.

We enforced good practice. Each course had its own folder. Within that were nested the remaining levels of organization. This means that, in the end, every lesson had its own folder and we required all developers to ensure that all assets used in a lesson (audio and video files, images and such) were to be placed in the lesson folder. This meant that each lesson stood alone and that moving it would not result in broken links and images. Best of all, this also meant that moving the content in and out of the LMS was straightforward.

It also might be of interest to the geeks among you that we started using CSS right away. All content formatting for the entire enterprise was based on a single CSS file. This meant that we could later update the look and feel of the content by just editing that one CSS file.

Here’s a few things we warned content developers about:

DO DO NOT
  • edit the placeholders in the titles to make them correct
  • follow consistent naming conventions when naming your images, sound files, animations and such.
  • Ensure that the filename can be understood by someone later. For example, the second animation in lesson 3 of section 4 should be named something like les01-sec04-anim02.swf
  • publish or make backups regularly. Lost work is a disaster–don’t let it happen.
  • ensure that the reviewer is in close contact with you.
  • make edits as soon as the problem becomes known to you
  • Respect copyright. Please respect the work of others. Ensure that your artwork is original or that you have at least obtained written permission and absolute release for all outside pieces.
  • fancy formatting. Stick with the predefined styles Heading 1 to Heading 4 for internal structure. These are found in the list of styles on the toolbar. Likewise, leave the color scheme alone.
  • embellishments such as bold and italic. Let the content speak for itself.
  • capitals and non-standard characters in file names. CDLI’s Learning Management System servers do not work with file names containing capitals and such. Hyphens and underscore characters are okay though.
  • BAD FILENAME: My Second Picture.jpg
  • BETTER FILENAME: les01-image02.jpg

It’s also worth noting that not all content developers played by the rules. As someone charged with administering, and of course, correcting, this, here are two things I found particularly troublesome. First, not everyone placed the objects where we asked them to. It would not be unusual, for example, to find images used by any particular lesson in the root ‘images’ folder for the course and not in the folder for that lesson. This meant that if we updated and copied that lesson folder back to the LMS later on the image would be broken as the link would no longer be valid. How many hours did Ken Penney and I spend checking for this!  The second annoyance was the insistence by some in getting fancy with the formatting and straying away from the template. For Ken and I this meant three things:

  • We would have to look at what was, sometimes, some pretty ugly stuff. Just because Black and Yellow contrast well doesn’t mean you should drop our colour schemes and use that instead!
  • We would lose time dealing with hard-to find inconsistencies. Just because the lesson looked great back on your PC doesn’t mean that it will look as good later on. My biggest beef: people writing in MS Word and then pasting it right into FrontPage. The geeks among you will know that this results in a boatload of inline styles which cannot be overridden by the main CSS and which stubbornly resist your efforts to fix it until you…
  • …lost a fair bit of time stripping away ALL of the formatting added by the developer and then just going back and doing it all over again yourself. This takes a lot of time and while it’s the most efficient way of getting rid of all the formatting crap it also gets rid of the stuff you needed to keep—you lose headings, superscripts and subscripts, for example and have to go back in and restore them.

So, for our stock HTML-based content, this was the process the developers were supposed to go through:

  • Spend the appropriate amount of time developing the course structure. As manager I expected this to take several weeks. In the end I expected a written document which listed all the units and sub units and then lessons. For each lesson I expected the list of specific curriculum outcomes addressed, along with a brief, one paragraph description of the instructional plan for that lesson.
  • That course structure would be examined carefully and developers would be warned that they needed to get this straight. Appropriate changes would be  made before proceeding.
  • Leon, and later Myself or Ken would use the course structure plan to create a development template on the dev server. This template would contain folders for the units and folders containing ready-to-use pages for all of the lessons. These would be appropriately titled and linked. At this point, major structural changes would only come with great difficulty.
  • The developer would be given access to the course folder on the dev server and would proceed to create the course. From time to time Leon or I would check on the progress.
  • When the developer indicated they were done we would schedule a review of the content, lesson by lesson. A report detailing suggested changes would be given to the developer who then had three choices: (a) make the changes as suggested, (b) make a different change; one they we agreed was better or (c) do nothing—if this was chosen, the developer was expected to defend this choice.
  • With the course finalized, the course folder would be locked from further access and the content would be copied over to the main website and copied into the appropriate course in WebCT.
  • If further edits were needed later on, these would be done on the dev server and the copying process repeated. That is, the ‘master copy’ was assumed to be the one on dev.

By 2004 we had 30 full courses developed. While the material was prepared primarily for the distance educations students we also copied the full content over to our main website and made it available to all students and teachers in the province.

Acad. Math 1204/2204/3204/3103
Adv. Math 2205/3205/3207
Art & Design 3200
Art Technologies 1201
Biology 2201/*(3201 came in 2005)
Canadian Economy 2203
Canadian History 1201
Career Exploration 1101
Chemistry 2202/3202
Comm. Tech. 2104/3104
English 1201, 2201, 3201
Enterprise 3205
Experiencing Music 2200
French 2200, 3200, 3201
Integrated Systems 1205
Physics 2204/3204
Science 1206
World Geography 3202
Writing 2203

List of courses offered in 2004-05. Note course numbers ABCD: A(1-3) means g10, 11 or 12, B=#course credits, C=0 means no mods from curriculum guide, D=way to distinguish 2 similar courses. Note also that Comm. Tech. was taught as one linked 2-credit course instead of as two single credit courses.

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Conrad Fitzgerald Adademy in English Harbour West

Overall our user experience with the content was spotty. In some cases the online materials  were used often and in other cases not. In the interest of brevity, here’s what we concluded:

  • CDLI Students only used the content if the eTeacher used it and referred to it in class.
  • eTeachers who had a hand in developing content tended to user it; this, in turn meant that their students used it too.
  • Non CDLI teachers and students tended to make great use of it. Sometimes it was used as the basis for lessons, sometimes it was a supplementary, especially in classes where more than one course was being taught at a time and sometimes it was used as homework or review.
  • The original 5-tab template was later compressed down to two. We found that the students rarely used the ‘You Will Learn’ and ‘You should Already Know’ tabs so in later versions of the template we compressed the five down to two: “Get Ready” (which listed outcomes and prerequisites) and “Go to Work” (which had the lesson activities and assessments). Here’s a sample Chemistry lesson.
  • Many students, when asked, told us they wished it was less wordy and that there was more use of multimedia.
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The old bridge over the Piper’s Hole River near Swift Current. Always time for a bit of good luck…and we have had our share.

Next: In late 2002 we discovered how to use Techsmith’s® Camtasia™ and about a year or so later Adobe® Captivate™ and started developing a new kind of learning content. We enjoyed great success using the Multimedia Learning Objects, or MLOs as we came to call them.

K-12 Distance Ed. in NL-10: CDLI: Supporting our Learners (2001-2005)

In August of 2002 Leon Cooper retired. And I still have not really forgiven him! Leon was more than a friend; he was also a mentor who worked patiently (most of the time) showing me quite a few things but, most of all, the value in applying an analytic problem-solving approach to the professional challenges we all meet. Oh, and he’s still a very dear friend.

Located along the south coast of Newfoundland, the small community of Rencontre East is accessible only by boat. The sign says it all.
Located along the south coast of Newfoundland, the small community of Rencontre East is accessible only by boat. The sign says it all.
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A slower, more peaceful way of life is what the ‘livyers’ love most about Rencontre East.
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Fishing from smaller boats is both environmentally and economically sustainable and the people who live here will continue to do so as long as it remains that way.
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Providing a full range of course offerings in a small school like the one in Rencontre East (sometimes voiced as round counter) would be impossible without the aid of the distance education services offered through CDLI.

When asked to work with Leon on the succession plan and the new hiring procedure I informed my director of my intention to apply for that one—as I felt it was a better match to my abilities and interests. The director then modified things and instructed us both to get to work on replacing me instead as I would be assuming the role of the program development specialist soon so we needed a new program implementation specialist.

We underwent a similar, analytic, procedure as we had employed successfully in the hiring of eTeachers. Bob Hipditch, a former HS program specialist for Math and Science with an extensive background in the administration of distance education was the successful candidate.

Bob, always intent and always slopping a cup of tea! L-R Bob Hipditch (Program Implementation, Ret.), Morris Cooze (Science), Mike Sceviour (Biology). Interesting to note that as of Sept. 2012 Mike is the Program Implementation Specialist. Just occurred to me that is is just as intent and is always slopping tea too. Wonder if that's an unstated requirement.
Bob, always intent and with his trademark cup of tea! L-R Bob Hipditch (Program Implementation, Ret.), Morris Cooze (Science), Mike Sceviour (Biology). Interesting to note that after Bob’s retirement in 2010 Mike  successfully won the job competition for our new Program Implementation Specialist. Just occurred to me that is is just as intent and is always slopping tea too. Wonder if that’s an unstated requirement.

And I do not mind admitting that he was better at that job than I had been. Best of all, those of us on the direct administration team at the time, Me (Program Development), Bob (Program Implementation), Frank (School connectivity and equipment) and Dale (Back-end systems), all reporting to Wade, the director, complemented one another. While, individually, none of us possessed all of the skill, together we had what was needed. And we trusted one another. But it did not stop there. We know/knew who we really worked for: our students. So, as a team we set out to support them as best we could.

At the front line, of course were our eTeachers, our distance education instructors. We started by choosing ones we felt were best suited to the job; those having these traits: empathy, dedication, subject matter knowledge and skill with teaching. Notice I didn’t say ‘technical wizards’ or something like that? While it’s true we did not want people who were just plain stunned (colloquialism; means ‘stupid’ but in a lighthearted way) when it comes to technology we knew those skills would come with training. The other important factors, though, were not so quick and easy to develop if they don’t already exist, so they were the ones we sought. That tradition of dedication to our students continues to this day.

Wade had the foresight to include a guidance counsellor as part of our staff complement. Jim Paul serves as a constant reminder that we are all about the people we work for (our students) and with (our colleagues). Shown here with Marie Wall (Employee Assistance Officer) Jim works tirelessly to ensure that as an organization we do not lose sight of our humanity.
Wade had the foresight to plan for a guidance counselor as part of our staff complement. Jim Paul serves as a constant reminder that we are all about the people we work for (our students) and with (our colleagues). Shown here with Marie Wall (Employee Assistance Officer) Jim works tirelessly to ensure that as an organization we do not lose sight of our humanity.

While drafting this, as you might expect, I want back through my files from the school years 2001-02 and 2002-03. Note the ‘snagit‘ from the PowerPoint slide below, which was taken directly from the opening session I gave to the initial eTeacher meeting held back in June 2002, in preparation for the first full school year. It was, and is, my ‘bottom line.’

My 8 rules for effective learning. Oh and while purple continues to be my favourite colour (wear it around me and I will make a point of telling you that fact) I have long since abandned using it in slides. Black text, white background. Nothing else!
My 8 rules for effective learning. Notice I didn’t say eLearning–that was deliberate, while eLearning is the context here I should also add that I find the term increasingly silly :>) Oh and while purple continues to be my favourite colour (wear it around me and I will make a point of telling you that fact) I have long since abandoned using it in slides. Black text, white background. Nothing else!

Our teachers continue to embrace those rules too. No doubt each one has a few extra as well.

Just in back of our teachers lie other various layers of support systems. Let’s start with the actual equipment. Rather than assuming that the schools would provide it we decided to create a standardized student workstation and provide these as needed to the schools. The actual number provided to a school was the same as the maximum number of students would be online in any given class period. In any class, then, each student had their own computer, with their own login. Of course, in a different class period, a different student might be using the same machine, but they would never be shared within any given class period. We purchased ‘business class’ computers as we required the added durability and reliability. We did not regret that decision; once working the systems tended to remain that way.

To set them up we used a disk cloning process. That is, we installed all of the necessary software on one computer and configured it appropriately. With that done we cloned that disk drive to all of the other systems—a process that was much faster than setting each system up manually…a little trick we learned in early 2000 from Sheldon Pittman, tech. with the Eastern School district. Not only could new PC’s be brought online quickly, but totally messed up computers—and that happens—could then be easily restored by re-cloning the drive.  As for saved student work—it was supposed to be stored online in the LMS anyway. Frank prepared the disk image and oversaw the shipping of all systems to the schools. The districts’ technicians imaged the machines and created the student logins.

Original Compaq EVOs we supplied back in 2002. By standardizing with enterprise class equipment we (a) knew exactly what was being used by students so diagnosing and rectifying tech issues became easier and (b) headed off most of the service calls by using quality equipment in the first place.
Original Compaq EVOs and 17″ monitors we supplied back in 2002. By standardizing with enterprise class equipment we (a) knew exactly what was being used by students so diagnosing and rectifying tech issues became easier and (b) headed off most of the service calls by using quality equipment in the first place. We expected systems to be used on the front lines for 3 years and all carried 3-year warranties. After the warranty expired we took them off the front lines, re-imaged the machines and cleaned them out (summer students did it actually) and then returned them to our schools where they were used for other ICLT projects.

An ‘all-in-one’ printer/scanner with a document feeder was also supplied, one per site. These were networked and could be used by students to print off work, as required. More importantly the auto-feed scanner was used to scan in handwritten student work which was then uploaded to the WebCT dropbox. That’s how our students ‘turn in’ handwritten submissions. We also supplied all the necessary networking equipment and cabling. Toners were also supplied, but on a limited basis; we provide what is required for distance education and not what may be used for other purposes.

All-in-one. Note the document feeder at the top. A handwritten assignment--say a math work sample would be laid in its entirety on the document feeder. The student would go over to their own workstation and startup the scan software and hit 'scan'. The whole doc would be scanned as a multi-page PDF which would be then uploaded to the WebCT drop-box. Note the white box on the wall. These days most printers and such come network-ready. In those days we had to use external 'jet-direct' boxes to enable the device for use over the network.
All-in-one supplied in 2002. Note the document feeder at the top. A handwritten assignment–say a math work sample–would be laid in its entirety on the document feeder. The student would go over to their own workstation, start up the scan software and hit ‘scan’. The whole doc would be scanned as a multi-page PDF which would be then uploaded to the WebCT drop-box. Note the white box on the wall. These days most printers and such come network-ready. In those days we had to use external ‘jet-direct’ boxes to enable the device for use over the network.

The synchronous classes are for interaction so in the early years we also supplied each computer with a graphics tablet. As time went on and we realized that not all courses required them we moved back to supplying them ‘as needed’ instead. We supplied each student with a headset-microphone so they do not need to be shared–with basic health and hygiene in mind.

Headset microphone supplied to students. As you might expect students tend to break them...a neverending source of frustration to all. Students: don't drop them into your backpacks!
Headset microphone supplied to students. As you might expect students tend to break them…a never-ending source of frustration to all. Students: don’t drop them into your backpacks!
de-headphones
That’s the way we like it. In this picture taken at Gambo 2003 you can see that the school put hooks on the wall so the students could hang their headsets up out of the way when not in use.

We supplied other special purpose equipment. For example we used digital interfacing equipment in many of the science labs (at the time it was a Vernier LabPro with Logger Pro software and various sensors including ones for motion, temperature, sound, pH, air pressure, heart rate, etc.). These were put into a kit which was shipped to schools. We continue to do this today and as our course range has broadened so, too, as has the equipment. Today, for example, we even have a piano course (we’ll get to that later on in the series) and, guess what–we loan the schools the instrument required. Same for tech.ed. See here for a related story about setting up the CNC router at the remote community of Francois.

We also took responsibility for the Internet connectivity at our schools. During the pilot year we contacted all of the providers and invited them to propose connectivity options for our schools. Only one provider responded and, so, on a pilot basis we set up one district’s pilot schools with the proposed solution. Though copper (not fibre), it worked out very well, supplying the site with adequate speeds and excellent reliability. For the implementation year we expanded this to the extent possible and in that year we actually upgraded 62 sites to ‘frame relay.’ Four of the sites could not be upgraded that way so we supplied them with a new, better, 2-way satellite. Yes, Frank’s boots stomped on more school roofs! In the following year we increased the number of ‘frame relay’ sites to 79, the number of satellite sites to 11. Three more got DSL and the two remaining schools came online courtesy of a wireless shot from the nearest location that had high speed. It was a quantum level of improvement! In those two years the CDLI schools finally had high speed, reliable connections.

And, yes, yet more roofs to be climbed on...
Mike Greene (District Tech., Western) and Frank put up another one. And, yes, yet more roofs to be climbed on…
CDLI computers had to be networked. The equipment does not install itself. Yes, Frank has seen all the roofs from both sides, inside and outside. This time he's running Cat5 through a ceiling conduit.
CDLI computers had to be networked. The equipment does not install itself. Yes, Frank has seen all the roofs from both sides, inside and outside. This time he’s running Cat5 through a ceiling conduit.

The back-end systems were located at Memorial University. At the time CDLI was 100% funded by the provincial government and STEM~Net was receiving the majority of its base funding from the provincial government as well. STEM~Net offices were located at Memorial so it made sense to keep the majority of the servers there. WebCT, on Dr. Bruce Mann’s request, had been set up in late 1996 and had since enjoyed steadily growing use and popularity within the university community. Thanks to projects such as Vista it was doing the same in k12. The server stayed and was expanded and updated as necessary. The Tutor’s edge application, mentioned in the previous post, had started off on a trial basis as a hosted service from Calgary. The trial was hugely successful and in October of 2002 the self-hosted version (by then known as vClass–it’s now evolved to be Blackboard Collaborate) was installed in a new server at STEM~Net. Dale managed these and other systems. Although the applications themselves have changed, and the size and complexity has grown, he continues to manage all our back-end systems today.

We continued to use the STEM~Net help desk system for our tech support. Students experiencing difficulty would contact our toll-free line. Many issues could be corrected there and then as a lot of calls really boiled down to (a) equipment/software settings that had been messed up by the user, and which could be fixed by a ‘talk-through’ or (b) a damaged headset which needed to be replaced. Other calls (connectivity issues or damaged equipment, for example) would be redirected to Frank, the ISP provider or the district technicians, all of whom treated these calls as ‘urgent.’

Next: CDLI also developed a huge inventory of learning content in its early years. We will take a look at some of that content and the processes by which it was created.

K-12 Distance Ed. in NL-9: CDLI Building an eLearning Team (2001-2005)

After a productive pilot year, CDLI moved to implementation in the 2002-03 school year. I was still in charge of program implementation but now it was province wide, not a pilot. During that year, as in the previous one, we had both distance education models working in tandem. The pilot schools now went into year two of the web-based offering and the remainder started their first year with that model. Students who were already using the legacy model continued with it. Overall that year we had 17 courses using the new model and 4 using the legacy one. The list was growing:

  • Math, grades 10-12, academic and advanced streams
  • Grade 10 Science, Grades 11&12 Physics and Chemistry
  • Grades 11&12 French (3 courses)
  • Art, Writing, Canadian Hist. Enterprise Ed., World Geog.
  • Tech. Ed.

The CDLI was created as a division of the DOE. The school administrators among you may find this a bit unusual. Departments of Education do not normally deliver education; they focus, rather, on governance, and leave the tasks associated with program implementation to school districts. In this case, though, it made sense to create CDLI in the way that was done. As a DOE division: (a) funding became fairly straightforward (b) CDLI was able to combine schools across district lines as needed and (c) online teachers—we call them eTeachers—had a provincial reach. In effect CDLI became a provincial virtual school.

Harbour Breton on Newfoundland's South Coast is one of the communities served by CDLI. The people speak with an accent is similar to the one likely spoken by Will Shakespeare--namely British English as was spoken before the 'great vowel shift.'
Harbour Breton on Newfoundland’s South Coast is one of the communities served by CDLI. The people speak with an accent similar to the one likely spoken by Will Shakespeare–namely British English as was spoken before the ‘great vowel shift.’

Only school districts could hire teachers so CDLI adopted a cooperative practice with the school districts in which teachers were seconded to work for CDLI from their existing permanent jobs. The recruitment process was a competitive one as follows:

  • We created a general profile of what traits we needed in an eTeacher. These will be discussed more in the next post.
  • The initial application process was constructed as an online database. Using a secure online connection prospective teachers would complete a professional profile and would respond to a variety of questions. Together with Leon and, later with Bob (see the next post) we would score the responses and, based on those scores, would devise a short-list of candidates.
  • We would contact the school districts and seek permission to interview those on the short-list. The interviews were all conducted via telephone, regardless of location, in order to place all candidates on the same level field. The interview consisted of a fixed set of questions, accompanied by scoring guidelines. One of the Assistant Directors from the school districts sat in on the interviews.
  • For each short-listed candidate, three referees (which the candidate provided on the application) were contacted and asked to rate the candidate on a scale of 1 to 5 on several criteria.
  • Each of the three components carried a weight. In the first year, for example, the application carried a total of 70 points, the interview 55 and the reference check 15. The scores were totaled for each candidate and short-listed candidates would be rank-ordered according to the score.
  • The director would then approach the school districts and ask permission to second the highest ranked candidates for each job. Typically the district would respond with a ‘yes’ which would be conditional on its ability to appropriately back-fill the chosen candidate. If not the next highest candidate would be sought, and so on.
  • There is a provincial collective agreement governing teacher jobs in my province which also includes pay scales with bands that depend on both years of service and education. The eTeachers are paid according to that scale, the same as F2F teachers. Seconded teachers, though they work for CDLI are still in the employ of their school districts and retain seniority and other benefits with that district.

Through this process the CDLI was able to assemble a team of dedicated, skillful teachers who quickly acquired the necessary technical skills. As you might expect, the pedagogical skills and strategies took longer. It’s a process that requires ongoing dedication throughout the whole career. Fortunately we had the benefit of (a) the great amount of knowledge and skill we had amassed through 13 years of the legacy model and 8 years of STEM~Net and (b) the wealth of information we had obtained through the previous pilot year. Many of the pilot teachers and some of the ‘legacy model’ teachers were successful applicants to CDLI so they brought their skills with them.

We adopted a policy of endeavouring to place the teachers, physically, where they were at the point of secondment; that is we would rather our eTeachers remained in their home communities. While we fully understood the advantages—collegiality mainly—of centralizing our teaching force, at the time it was much more important to maintain a strong footprint all across the province. There was much work to be done and our best bet was to keep people close to our sites so as to ensure that we were truly a part of the rurality we served.

We intended to build a culture of eLearning so we started by emphasizing teamwork. People worked in groups. We supported one another. We found ways to ensure that we could have F2F meetings several times per year. We also DID eLearning. Our teachers did NOT teach F2F. Their online students were our students, period. They got our best efforts, not the scraps from the educational table. We met, regularly, online, using the same tools that we used to teach our students. In short we walked the walk, if you’ll pardon the cliché.

Session from an eTeacher meeting held at Gander in 2003-04 school year. Notice the body language. You can't fake engagement.
Session from an eTeacher meeting held at Gander in 2003-04 school year. Notice the body language. You can’t fake engagement. L-R Rick Snow (Math), Eric Nippard (Tech Ed), Brad Sheppard (Math), Morris Cooze (Science and Enterprise), Dave Warren (Physics), Jim Hayter (Physics), Glen Cake (French), Ron Harnum (Math), Brian Wells (Chem), Me.

The hiring process for the initial eTeachers had actually been carried out in the spring of 2002, as the pilot year wound down. The faculty gathered for the first time in June 2002 at Memorial University. There they underwent training in the LMS (WebCT) and the synchronous tool (vClass). They also met as subject matter groups to discuss and develop new approaches to teaching and learning.

Another session from the same eteacher meeting. Clockwise from top lewft: Brian Wells (Chem) Me, Craig Goudie (Art), Lyndon Williams (standing; English and SS), Sadie May (math), Susan Sullivan (French), George Wright (Math), Lorne Warren (Math), Nick Soper (English), Edwina Cashin (Math), John Deeley (Art). Lyndon is showing the team how to use Respondus, a tool that lets you create and upload online tests to our LMS.
Another session from the same eTeacher meeting. Clockwise from top left: Brian Wells (Chem) Me, Craig Goudie (Art), Lyndon Williams (standing; English and SS), Sadie May (Math), Susan Sullivan (French), George Wright (Math), Lorne Warren (Math), Nick Soper (English), Edwina Cashin (Math), John Deeley (Art). Lyndon is showing the team how to use Respondus, a tool that lets you create and upload online tests to our LMS.

They were also given their class schedules for the following year. The process of developing these had not been an easy one. Recall that CDLI worked with all districts. Scheduling is a district matter and school opening and closing times sometimes vary by community. Fortunately, because most of the CDLI schools had also been part of the Legacy model there was some degree of uniformity regarding start and end times as well as the class schedule model. Wade, our director, had engaged in extensive rounds of meetings with the school boards around this matter and, by then, had achieved a decent level of agreement; enough that we could proceed.

Still, the job of scheduling 19 instructors, teaching a total of 21 courses into 73 small schools located in 10 different districts was extremely challenging. Here’s what I did:

  • For a time stopped answering the phone and replying to email. I had to focus solely on this. During that time Leon and Wade took the brunt of the emerging issues rather than me taking my share.
  • Began with a blank 14-day calendar. Each day had five class periods. Overall the time slots were labeled A through H (Later we dropped H and just used A-G). This meant, for example, Day 1 had periods A through E, Day 2 had F G A B C and so on.
  • Combined the districts so that there were only 5 different schedules needed, not ten.
  • Started with the most populous group. This happened to be the districts occupying what is now the Nova Central district.
  • Applied basic logic: students taking grade 10 math, for example could be assumed not to be taking grade 11 math (for the most part) so these mutually exclusive courses were scheduled in the same class slot. Likewise for Physics 11 & 12, Chem 11 & 12 and so on.
  • Repeated until all the courses were scheduled in for that pair of districts.
  • To create the schedule for the next set of districts all that was needed was to walk the first schedule ahead by one slot. That is, courses offered in slot A for the first pair of districts would be offered in slot B for the next pair, and so on.
  • With the district schedules created all I had to do was turn them inside out and prepare individual schedules for each eTeacher.
Portion (first 7 of 14 days) of one of the district schedules created for the first year. In general, that year, the classes alternated between synchronous (in vClass) and asynchronous (using the tools in WebCT).
Portion (first 7 of 14 days) of one of the district schedules created for the first year. In general, that year, the classes alternated between synchronous (in vClass) and asynchronous (using the tools in WebCT). Notice that on day 1 physics 2204 is in period C. Every period C would therefore be physics 2204. Notice, though, that the label is only on every other class C. This is because the labels denote the synchronous classes. Slot C without a label is therefore asynchronous. In this case both physics courses were in slot C because it was assumed (correctly) that students would not be taking both courses in the same year.

Finally, the district schedules were sent to each school and I waited for the calls and emails. There were quite a few. The majority were from schools who could not make the distance education schedule work for their particular school owing to some circumstance particular to that site—maybe students did, for example, have to take grade 10 and 11 math together for some reason. Perhaps a staffing situation created a clash. There were various circumstances that could warrant a call. For the most part these were dealt with by allowing that school to enroll some students in classes that would normally be offered to some other district. If, for example, the school could not work with the fact that, for them, Gr. 11 Physics was supposed to be in slot C then they would be given the go-ahead to register for different time slot—perhaps it was offered in slot B for a different district so the students went to that class instead.

It’s worth mentioning that around then I got out of using voicemail on the telephone. I would typically start the day with the message manager full at ten messages and the email inbox clogged with maybe as many as 100 inbound emails regarding registration and general enquiries. I’d start in by returning the voicemail, first in first called back. After several calls it would become apparent that this was not about to end anytime soon as, after clearing 3-5 calls, the box would still be full! People would be trying to reach me while I was returning other calls. Same with the email. It was not always fun–sometimes, often actually, I’d get the snide comment that “There’s no point in calling/emailing Maurice, he doesn’t return them.” Ha–not exactly the case… They would be returned but sometimes it took a while.  This got fixed later on as we moved to automate the registration procedures and as people got more used to our workflows.  As for the voicemail I switched it off and had caller ID turned on. In addition I had the phone set so that after four rings the call would be redirected to  our administrative assistant who would take a message. I figured that it was always better to get a voice, not voicemail. Still do!

Nain, Labrador, our province's most northern community. Dead centre in the picture you can see the runway--you need to get the landing just right. Fortunately the twin Otters and Dash 8 aircraft that use it can land on a coin.
Nain, Labrador, our province’s most northern community. Dead centre in the picture you can see the runway–you need to get the landing just right. Fortunately the twin Otters and Dash 8 aircraft that use it can land on a coin.

There was also the fact that my province spans two time zones. Northern Labrador uses the Atlantic time zone (UTC-4 hours) but the rest (southern Labrador and Newfoundland) uses Newfoundland time (UTC-3.5 hours). The number of students from Labrador is small for some courses—not large enough to make up a single class—so some classes had to have students from both time zones. This was problematic because we couldn’t just dictate that the Labrador schools change their opening and closing times! Here’s what I did: In the classes that combined students from both time zones I was careful not to schedule the instructor in the period just before or after that class. This allowed the class to run 1.5 hours instead of the 1 hour norm. So, what happened was that the Labrador students joined first and were there with the instructor for 30 minutes. After that 30 minutes they were joined by the rest of the students. Half an hour later the Labrador students finished. The class therefore was: (a) 30 minutes tutorial for the Labrador group (b) whole class instruction (c) 30 minutes tutorial for the remaining group. Complicated—yes, but workable—yes, too.

Most of CDLI staff, June 2004. Front, L-R: Craig Goudie (Art), Andrew Mercer (Music), Susan Sullivan (French), Anne Manning-Moffitt (English and SS) Sadie May (Math), Glen Cake (French), Morris cooze (Science and Ent), Brad Sheppard (Math). Second row: Dave Warren (Physics), Jim Paul (Guidance), Joan House (Tech Support), Me (Program Development), Lorne Warren (Math), Ron Harnum (Math). Back Row, Standing (L-R) Ken Penney (Multimedia), Jim Murphy (French), Larry Eddy (Physics), Jim Hayter (Physics), Mike Sceviour (Biology), John Deeley (Art), Andre Hudson (Chem), Dale Fraser (Systems), Greg Taaffe (Math), Edwina Cashin (Math), Nick Soper (English), Isadore Snook (Math), John Burke (Chem), Brian Wells (Chem), Eric Nippard (Tech Ed), Bob Hipditch (Program Implementation), Rick Snow (Math), Frank Shapleigh (Connectivity and Equipment)
Most of CDLI staff, June 2004. Front, L-R: Craig Goudie (Art), Andrew Mercer (Music), Susan Sullivan (French), Anne Manning-Moffitt (English and SS) Sadie May (Math), Glen Cake (French), Morris Cooze (Science and Ent), Brad Sheppard (Math). Second row: Dave Warren (Physics), Jim Paul (Guidance), Joan House (Tech Support), Me (Program Development), Lorne Warren (Math), Ron Harnum (Math). Back Row, Standing (L-R) Ken Penney (Multimedia), Jim Murphy (French), Larry Eddy (Physics), Jim Hayter (Physics), Mike Sceviour (Biology), John Deeley (Art), Andre Hudson (Chem), Dale Fraser (Systems), Greg Taaffe (Math), Edwina Cashin (Math), Nick Soper (English), Isadore Snook (Math), John Burke (Chem), Brian Wells (Chem), Eric Nippard (Tech Ed), Bob Hipditch (Program Implementation), Rick Snow (Math), Frank Shapleigh (Connectivity and Equipment)

The eLearning team was built for the first year and the schedules were set. In the fall of 2002 the real work began: full implementation!

Next: We knew the task ahead would not be easy so we took care to provide a full range of supports for our learners. These will be described in detail.