Tuesday, March 9, 2010

CAME Project kicks off

Last week I took the first lot of students from the Certificate in Automotive and Mechanical Engineering course through Google Apps and Blogger. We had about 20 students in class and they all had their own laptops. I wasn't at all ready for this. David Clarke (lecturer in the course) gave me a call early Monday morning asking if I could do something with the students the same day. I was anticipating this but later in the week. I am happy to report the 2 hour session however went smoothly and I managed to achieve what was very quickly planned.

I have since put together a wikispaces resource centre for students. This will make the next session later this week easier for me. Here is the link to the wikispaces website.

Yesterday we gave out Dell Mini 9 Netbooks to a select group of students. It was very interesting to observe how excited and quick the students were to to jump on the net. The Netbooks which were given out were pre-configured hence it made it easy for the students to be connected. I have to say the first site they all opened (most of them did) was Youtube. It is suprising to see how Youtube is replacing Google as preferred search or reference website in the younger generation. The Dell Minis come with a built-in camweb, bluebooth, and Wifi, the only problem with it is limited storage space (it has a 8 gig main drive storage).

The storage space shouldn't be a big issue since students are making extensive use of Google. However we have supplied the students with a 8gig SD card so they can use this to store any video and pictures they may take during to course. Students are to use Picasa to storage pictures and Youtube for videos.

The aim of this project is to embed technology on the learning process hence enabling students to create their own content. Students use this content to create an eportfolio which they submit at the end of the course for assessment. We are also hoping the students will continue working on their portfolio in the courses that follow.

In all we have more than 80 students in this course. They are divided into 4 groups and each group will be looked after by one of the four teaching staff. The students however go through a rotation, all four teachers teach different topics in the course.

Last week I attended a session where students were to present their findings on safety (personal safety in a work environment). Almost all groups had drawn very neat pictures to relay the message, unfortunately the students did not have any equipment to digitally capture this. They could have used the webcame on their netbooks but the problem is, the webcams on these netbooks are facing the user every time, it is fixed.

I sent out a request to the head of department, asking for fund so that we can buy 8 of the compact digital video cameras that doubles up as a camera. I was so delighted to see the support, the head of department approved the purchase in a few hours. So this is what we bought for the students to use to capture what happens in and outside of the classroom.
I'll be shortly adding another page in the wikispaces site: Using the JVC HD Video Camera. I bit about the compact vidcam, Full HD, easy upload to Youtube, 8 Mega Pixel still capture, 90 minute battery life. 3X digital zoom. Only problem with this model is it doesn't not have much built in storage. We now need to buy SD cards, it can take up to 32 gig. This in-fact could play to our benefit since the Dell Mini 9's have a SD slot, hence it will make it easy for the students to transfer files from the camera.

It is an exciting project and a first in the trade school. The four staff involved in this project so far have enjoyed the journey and appreciate the change from the old way to new way of teaching. Early indication from students has been good so far. Most of them have bought the laptop and the use in class has been good.