The Ontario Extend Technologist Module has been a thought-provoking adventure into considering what would be most helpful for my tutors. Let me walk you through my path.
First up, I defined digital literacy back in May, 2018:
So what does all this musing mean for me as a teacher in a digital world? This is the space I must occupy and I need to be both an explorer and a guide. I need to seek out, learn and understand new ways of expressing information and ideas in this digital medium while practicing creation, appreciation, and discernment.
Standing where I am now, the key for the Technologist Module has been “new ways of expressing information” in terms of the training of tutors which has been my focus for this exercise.
After a review of Design Thinking, next up was empathizing with my tutors by gaining feedback. This is the step that held me up from some time as I explored ways to gather this feedback. I spoke with my tutors over the spring semester and gathered some information about the training through a simple survey.
The training that tutors experience is in four parts:
- Orientation – general overview of tutoring system, tutor responsibilities and forms.
- Payroll & Health and Safety – hands on training in a custom PeopleSoft module and review of policies along with direction on completing mandatory H&S modules.
- Tutoring Techniques – philosophy of tutoring at our college, techniques and practices of good tutoring, and review of roles within the tutoring team. This is followed by an opportunity for new tutors to shadow experienced tutors.
- Ongoing meetings and leadership events.
The survey indicated that tutors, in general, were satisfied with the face-to-face training including the time spend on each section, but there were lingering questions or confusion that regularly occurred after the training was over. While there were some questions about policies and procedures that covered rare circumstances, most of the confusion was over payroll. This was confirmed by the number of issues that pop up during bi-weekly payroll and errors tutors made.
During the Spring Leadership Event, I conducted further investigate into tutors experiences and charted this in a Empathy Map. This showed that Payroll was a definite pain point for tutors and this aspect became the narrow focus for the rest of my work with the Technologist Module.
The next step in the module was to add to the Learner Challenge Padlet and explore others’ contributions. I did gain some ideas about what could be possible as an alternate way to presenting payroll training beyond the face-to-face hands on model that we are currently using.
Then, I moved on to Ideate. Using The SECTIONS Model by Anthony William Bates, I worked through the questions and downloaded the document to Google Docs. It was working through this activity that I realized that the problem is the Ease of Use of our PeopleSoft Module. The technology we use for payroll is NOT user-friendly, easy to learn or intuitive. Given the linkages to other data about students and tutors that is needed for analysis and reporting, I can’t change that. Helping students deal with this unwieldly software is the problem I need to tackle.
I created a prototype on paper for my ideas and through that process, I found that some of my ideas, while cool, were not the right approach. For example, I have rejected the idea of creating gifs for the payroll appointment entry process as the process is just too complex for this method. I tested out prototyping with another process I was working earlier in the summer for work I was doing on a BlackBoard course for new students. These two activities led me back to BlackBoard and I ultimately decided that providing guides and information through a BlackBoard course was the way to go.
The Tutor Training BlackBoard course contains content areas that relate to the different parts of our training with a discussion board and weekly updates. A special feature is the links to Flipgrid, which we used very successfully in the Spring for Tutor Introductions.
The Payroll training section is still under development but will have Guides with step by step instructions and screenshots of the payroll program to help tutors understand how to enter the different types of tutoring that they do. It will include video walk throughs and Pro-Tips as reminders. At the moment, the Walk-in Tutoring Guide is available.
By having this available 24/7, tutors can learn to first try to solve a problem with their payroll with the guides while knowing that they can contact staff with questions or additional training as needed. The discussion area can be used for tutors to help each other with questions as well. I believe this will help tutors in the future to deal with other software that is similarly unfriendly.
Of interest to me and to our staff is tutors’ response. I uploaded the first sections on Friday, Sept 7th and released it at noon. By 5 pm, 80% of tutors had logged in. By Monday, 95% had logged in. I updated and added two articles this morning and 50% of tutors had logged in an hour later.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will continue to upload and refine the training documents and plan to continue with the weekly updates and announcements for new and timely information. I will also gather tutors’ feedback to ensure the course is meeting their needs.
Given the early reactions of tutors logging in and the kind comments tutors have made over the last few days in person, I am calling this one a success!