Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Learning how to multitask

Writing up notes from the a recently completed pilot with front office students - using videos to enhance reflective learning. Feedback from the students and tutor (Debbie Taylor) has been very positive despite several technical issues to surmount. Of note is that for the first time, all students have completed their practical assessments after the first iteration, so no need for resits, which take up extra time and can be demoralising for students.

We are now working on several technical issues, before we run the official project with a new group of students next semester. Apart from connecting the ipads to a datashow, we have found sound quality from the ipad videos to be a challenge. Firstly, the ipads tend to pick up sound only if the students speak loudly, then when the videos are played back via a data show, students' voices are sometimes difficult to discern. Over the next few weeks, Sam Hegarty at the LTU will be trialing several configurations using wireless mikes and speakers attached to the datashow to improve sound quality.

Even with the sound quality challenge, student learning has been enhanced through the opportunity to view themselves and others roleplaying check-in and check-out processes. After the inital 'camera shyness' the students pitched in and really connected with the overall objectives of the project. They worked at practicing their check-in/check out skills, recorded each others roleplays and provided solid peer feedback to each other. The tutor then used examples of good practice to illustrate main skills.

Of note is the need to do several things at once during the check in/ check out process whilst maintaining a customer friendly/focused demeanor both verbally and through body language. The bringing together of tasks skills and soft people relationship skills can be challenging for students to learn. Debbie is now in the process of deconstructing the check in/check out process more thoroughly to identify areas where multi-tasking is crucial. From the deconstruction, we hope to provide students with the opportunity to practice the multi-tasking parts separately, before incorporating these into the full check in/ check out sequence. There are several occasions during the sequence when students have to talk to the guest, fill in forms/enter information into the computer or find paperwork etc. along with listening to the guest and portraying a professional (I know what I am doing) and friendly/welcoming demeanor.

So next semester, we will have students go through the checklist of check in or check out sequence as they view Debbie (physically or virtually) complete the process. Then, students will concentrate on THREE items /skills through the first few practice roleplays. As their skill develops, the entire check in/ check out roleplay will be videoed. Students will then need to be able to pick up the skills/ dispositions that need to be improved through both peer and tutor feedback. During the pilot, I trialled several class observation sheets and have now modified observation forms to reflect the class room activity as it unfolds. So looking forward to next semester's work on this project.

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