January 27, 2009

Learning with IT at The Learning Centre

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

The Learning Centre is a student-orientated centre dedicated to promoting and aiding students’ development and success at Vanier College. We offer many different services, such as individual appointments with the staff to help students with essay writing skills, reading techniques, and study strategies. The Centre offers dozens of useful tips and strategies for writing, analysing literature and poetry, note-taking, and time management. We can also match students up with a peer tutor.

Our students are living in a technological world and it is important that we keep pace with them. To create an effective and productive learning environment,, we are constantly trying to take full advantage of IT and explore all of its possibilities. Over the past few years, we have developed several new methods of integrating IT into our services including an online booking system, a comprehensive evaluation system and an interactive ESL tutorial.

TLC BookNow

Due to the ever-increasing numbers of students coming to The Learning Centre for individual appointments, we implemented a new and more effective method of booking appointments. After meeting with a former Vanier student to discuss the possibilities of creating an online appointment booking system, TLC BookNow, an easier and more efficient booking system for students, was created. Students can make appointments at any time or from any place they wish. as well as see staff members’ schedules and make appointments with whomever they wish, up to two weeks in advance. They receive confirmation to secure their appointment. The site also allows the staff members to keep track of the students they are working with and the areas of study they are working in; the site simultaneously works as a database. The site has been actively advertised throughout the College and bookmarks with the site address and information have been printed and distributed among students. Once we saw how effective this method was, the same model was quickly used for how students with learning disabilities book their exams.

Online Evaluations

Evaluations are essential to The Learning Centre in order to assess our strengths and weaknesses and to help create positive growth. In the past, we would hand out printed evaluation forms and have students return them to us. This yielded an average response rate of about twenty percent, which is insufficient for evaluative purposes. However, we are currently using an online method, and our response rate has jumped to about eighty percent.

The Learning Center home page

Using SurveyMonkey as our online data-collecting tool, we can create surveys with multiple answering options, such as rating scales, checkboxes and comment boxes where students can type in their responses. If you’d like to see an example of one of the evaluation forms, please click here. The surveys feature many open-ended questions about how we could improve, and since the evaluations are anonymous, there is greater likelihood of getting honest responses from the students. We are able to access more students using this method, as we email the links to the online surveys to the students we have worked with. Additionally, we advertise the surveys on our website and create bookmarks to hand out to students in the centre. The Peer Tutoring program, which is run out of The Learning Centre, also now surveys both tutors and tutees to monitor the effectiveness of the program.

English Now! An Online Tutorial

Many of the students at Vanier are learning English as their second, third and even fourth language! At The Learning Centre, we work with many of these students, helping them improve their English language skills. In addition to learning with our staff and in the classroom, students often want to be able to learn outside of school, and at their own pace. In order to accommodate this style of learning, we developed an interactive online resource students can use anywhere there is an internet connection, called English Now! An Online Tutorial.

English Now! An Online Tutorial home page

English Now! is designed particularly for ESL students who wish to improve their English skills. It is extremely interactive, offering students a variety of different exercises related to reading comprehension and grammar skills, supplying them with immediate feedback. Our students, as well as students from as far as China and India, have reported that they enjoy the various activities and exercises, and appreciate how much they learn while using it.

All the student writing we receive is published online, as well as learning guides, and photos from all of our events. We have already developed a few videos for students to watch online, and are in the process of producing several more, to appear on our site soon. We are always looking for new ways to integrate IT into The Learning Centre’s services and resources, and would love to hear what you’ve done for the students in your school!

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