The Association of Ringing Teachers is set to launch a series of online courses to support ringing learners with the theoretical side of ringing. The aim is to support more effective learning from home and to free up time for the vital practical skills which can only be learnt in a tower.
The courses will be open for anyone to enrol on and will be free of charge. Already five courses are in the development stage and many more are planned, aimed at all levels of ringers.
ART had been thinking for some time about how it could incorporate online learning into its activities, particularly with the aim of creating more practical session on its Module 1 and 2 courses. This could beachieved by introducing ‘flip learning’ type activities – with participants undertaking some of the theoretical activities before they arrived for the course.
Key to its thinking was its core principles on what makes for good teaching of ringing. This involves highly structured planning, breaking tasks down into smaller steps, listening to students, giving feedback and setting achievable targets, in addition to celebrating success.
So the online learning project was born.
Using the open source learning platform, Moodle, in use in over 36,000 educational institutions around the world, the courses will be utilise a variety of materials to provide tuition and interactive feedback for users. Videos, pictures, text and downloadable files will be combined to provide detailed tuition. Each topic will be broken down into small steps and will enable learners to progress at their own pace, as well as being able to jump to the section of the course they wish to review. Quizzes with multiple attempts and detailed feedback, forums and discussion groups will
enable those enrolled on the course to interact with each other and to ask questions.
The first courses are already being prepared. Videos have been provided by Clare McArdle, Richard Booth and Rose Nightingale, Simon Linford, Tom Hinks, and Nikki Thomas, Beth Johnson and Ruth Suggett. IT support is being provided by Steve Johnson. Topics currently being developed are: learning call changes – up, down and by places; how to call simple touches; how to learn methods; and, for more advanced ringers, how to splice methods on practice night.
Of course, in any new initiative learning takes place. In this case producing the courses has brought many lessons. First the time commitment to an online course is all upfront. Tutors have to think carefully of how they can ensure that all key points are covered in addition to popular misconceptions which have to be addressed and rectified – even before potential students have made them. Planning enjoyable interactions to enable students to both receive and give feedback – including well planned and informative questions to ask takes meticulous planning and skilled IT
All of this whilst learning new systems for producing the work – learning how Moodle works, how video editing takes place and how interactive tasks can be developed.
And of course, all of this is taking place during lockdown when the ability to film in towers is restricted – often forcing course creators to rely on existing materials. Nevertheless the enthusiasm of course creators has been hugely encouraging and there is a firm belief that the courses will get better and better as time goes on.
To join in the course all you have to do is go to the online learning portal, click the enrol button and enter your name and email.
The first courses will be advertised soon via social media and newsletters – so watch this space and get learning!