PIDP Capstone

Lanyon quoit dolmen near Morvah, Cornwall with a huge granite capstone balanced on three uprights and thought to have been a prehistoric burial chamber or mausoleum

To complete the Provincial Instructor Diploma, I had to submit a lesson plan, a recording of a lesson, and a reflection. I can’t share this part publicly, but I want to thank everyone who helped me.

The last part is a reflection on my PIDP journey and I can share that:

PIDP 3270 Capstone Introduction

Objective

Looking back at my various work experiences, I have always sought out positions or assignments that involved teaching.

My professional designation is Master Pipe-Organ Builder. I started out as an apprentice in Germany and completed this basic training with a journeyman ticket equivalent to the Red Seal certification in Canada. During my years in this trade, I trained other apprentices and volunteers during various projects.

Later, during my training to become a master of my trade, I added formal apprenticeship training to my education. This training focused on practical instruction, and I still draw from the skill set I acquired during this training.

Later in my life, I worked with international employees of companies and helped them and their families settle in Germany. This allowed me to pass on my experience as an immigrant and teach my clients how to make the transition to their new lives easier. This was a more informal way of teaching, but I found it very fulfilling.

Before returning to Canada in 2007, I taught language teachers how to sell and administer English language testing tools. I taught workshops and certified instructors to use the tools. This was my first introduction to formative assessments and standardized testing methods.

Before starting as a support worker at Okanagan College, I founded and ran a consulting firm, teaching business owners how to use social media tools effectively. I also spent a year building online courses as a subcontractor. It almost feels wrong to mention this because the courses we produced did not meet many of the standards I had at the end of the PIDP program.

During the last three years, I have been a substitute in Okanagan College’s Women in Trades and Technology (WITT) program. I also recently started teaching general interest courses at the college.

Reflective

Every step along the PIDP journey was rewarding to me. It rekindled my interest in lifelong learning and brought me many insights into how I could have improved my earlier teaching assignments. I particularly enjoyed the reflective writing assignments and the feedback from the incredible instructors at VCC.

I struggled to find equal value in the elective courses versus the mandatory ones. I missed the guidance and structure. The principle of learning only from peers and my own research made it difficult for me to grow in the same way as during the mandatory courses or the most recent elective course, Foundations of Online Learning and Teaching.

Interpretive

The biggest change in how I see trades education after the PIDP courses is the fact that we need to shift our thinking as instructors from transferring knowledge to helping our students discover what they need to learn.

Decisional

When I plan a lesson today, I put a lot more emphasis on participation from the students than before. In trades programs is usually taught through reading textbooks and text-heavy presentations. I still see a lot of instructors applying these methods. The instructors that have taken PIDP recently and parallel to me produce a lot more interesting materials, improve their methods, and create a much more engaging environment for their students.

I hope to be able to put what I learned into action soon and hope the PID certification will help me find a position that allows me to change existing courses to make them more efficient and apply the current methods I learned during my courses.

Learner-Centered Instruction (LCI)

Objective

In 2019, Okanagan College offered a Learner-Centered Instructor certificate course open to instructors and other staff. The opportunity intrigued me more because it offered an opportunity to learn something new than any thought about wanting to go into teaching.

Reflective

The LCI course excited me. Not only because it showed me how different modern approaches in adult education are compared to anything I was used to but it also gave me an opportunity to develop a short lesson I had in mind privately, and that turned out so much better than any lessons I had taught before.

Interpretive

I was hooked on teaching. As mentioned earlier, teaching was always a general interest for me, but I had given up on the thought of becoming a professional instructor. The LCI course showed me that I can improve on what I know and enjoy teaching adults.

Decisional

This experience made me seek out teaching opportunities, and I soon began substitute teaching in the WITT program.

It also kindled my interest in the PIDP program, and I ended up transferring my credits to VCC. I used the credits to replace Delivery of Instruction (PIDP 3220). At the time, this was the only mandatory course that required in-person attendance.

PIDP 3250            Instructional Strategies

Objective

Because I misinterpreted parts of the PIDP student handbook, Instructional Strategies was the first of the PIDP courses I took. For someone like me who had never taken a college course or authored a paper before, the course was a challenge. However the interesting subject matter and the instructor Glen Gali’s feedback on my assignments motivated me to complete the course with surprisingly good results.

Reflective

Some of the highlights of this course were:

  • Learning about the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of students. I found parallels to myself and my own history and gained insights into my students’ motivation.
  • The course made it clear to me that our task as instructors is to help our students succeed rather than just pass exams.
  • Learning about the meaning of “growth mindset.”
  • Learning about the concept of “schema” in education and taking advantage of the concept of chunking information for our students.
  • The exercises around classroom management helped me with my classes right away.

Interpretive

Every one of the reflective writing assignments and presentations I prepared for this course offered deep insights into how people learn and how we can help our students succeed beyond just passing our class.

Decisional

The deeper understanding I gained during Instructional Strategies changed how I approach preparing my classes. It deepened my desire to help my students succeed in a trades environment that is quite different from the school environment most of them come from when they enter our program.

I published my papers for this course on my blog. You can find the links in the appendix.

PIDP 3100           Foundations of Adult Education

Objective

After realizing that the PIDP courses are designed to be taken in a numerical sequence, I started the PIDP 3100 next. I have the distinct advantage of my experience building WordPress websites and blogging. This is something some of my colleagues struggled with.

Reflective

I enjoyed researching trends in trades education as well as the developments of adult education during a time when we were just coming out of the phase when we had to lean on online learning during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interpretive

Other than writing about the trends, the two topics that fascinated me most were Indigenous learning cultures and neurodiversity.

I gained a deeper understanding of indigenous approaches to learning and found a deeper understanding of the differences between this and my euro-centric approach to school and learning in general.

My exploration into ADHD gave me a better understanding of my own and my students’ needs as learners. While I was aware before that I live with ADD, it was helpful to learn more about it.

Decisional

Understanding my own neurodiversity helps me study and author papers like this one. It also helps me understand my students’ needs better. Shortly after taking this course, I had a student with ADHD and was able to understand her much better and learn from her how to approach her, learning differently from the other students.

PIDP 3210            Curriculum Development

Objective

The biggest takeaway from 3210 was the realization that a lot of the lessons that someone else designed and that I am teaching lack some specific design features.

Exploring my own biases and thinking about what we, as instructors, should be teaching beyond the prescribed curriculum was also interesting.

Reflective

So far, most of my teaching experience has been with students at the very beginning of their career in the trades. My reflections in this course enforced my general tendency to convey skills important to trades and general adult life beyond only the physical skills of the unit. I write about the “Hidden Curriculum” in my blog (link in the appendix).

Interpretive

Learning about curriculum development has caused me to re-examine every lesson I teach and every course I am part of. What are the learning outcomes? Are we meeting the needs of our students with this course?

Decisional

This examination is important. Especially in an exploratory program, we need to focus the time we have with our students on skills they will need for their career or their decisions about what career to pursue.

One of my former students confirmed my position on teaching as accurately as possible about trades careers by telling me her story. After learning about the different trades in the exploratory program, I was a sub-instructor, for she decided to start an apprenticeship as a sheet metal worker, only to discover that it was not what she had expected and stop her apprenticeship after three weeks. Had we taken more care to present a more accurate picture of the trade, she may have made a different decision.

PIDP 3230            Evaluation of Learning

Objective

Evaluation and exams have been traditionally difficult for me personally in the past. With this background, I was particularly curious about learning more about it.

I was not disappointed and learned how important it is to plan our assessments well.

Reflective

The highlight of this course was reflecting on summative and formative evaluations. We always focus so much on final exams and the skills our students need to master to advance. Considering student-centered learning, we also need to evaluate if our teaching is effective and serves our learners.

Interpretive

Reflecting on how to evaluate student participation was an interesting exercise. I realized how different people take part to a different degree and in diverse ways. This helps me see participation in a different light.

Decisional

This course helped me change the way I think about evaluation of learning in two ways.

  1. I discovered how important it is to get an evaluation of my teaching performance early in a course. An anonymous survey early on and during a longer course can help us design for a better outcome for our students and for ourselves.
  2. I am making sure to build in a variety of ways to evaluate learning. As an example, I am now giving my students more than one way to supply assignments.

PIDP 3240            Media Enhanced Learning

Objective

Given my earlier experience in the world of content development this course seemed to be an easier one for me. I discovered many tools and ways to make classes more interesting for my students.

Reflective

The format of the course gave me the opportunity to learn from peers and discover several tools that and ways they can be used in classes. Especially considering an increased number of classes that are being taught online, this gave me a better understanding of different options I had not heard of before.

Decisional

I learned to think outside of what we know already. There are so many new ways and tools to discover that can help us meet the needs of our diverse classrooms. The course sensitized me to the need to educate myself continuously in this area.

PIDP 3260            Professional Practice

Objective

This course made me reflect and write about more elements of being an instructor than any other. It was a lot of work, but it feels good to think about all those areas.

Reflective

Creating a safe space for everybody to learn and express themselves is especially important to me.

The course also made me challenge some of my assumptions about teaching and evaluating myself and my students.

Lastly, it made me think about my future as an instructor and what is important to me.

Interpretive

We do not think about foundational things like this very often. I feel like these explorations into the different topics challenged me to reflect on my priorities and opinions.

Decisional

This course confirmed my approach to teaching and evaluating programs and lesson plans that I am part of. This does not make my life easier, but it taught me more ways to treat my students’ interests as a priority.

PIDP 3300            Teaching Adults with the Brain in Mind

Objective

This was the first elective course for me, and I struggled with the format. But I explored the principles of memory and brain development in general.

I also dove into Virtual Reality and was fascinated by the possibilities of the technology now and in the future.

Decisional

I will keep an eye on Virtual Reality, and I believe once some of the hardware issues are resolved, the technology has the potential to revolutionize trades education.

PIDP 3340            Collaborative Learning in the College Classroom

Objective

This course challenged me to re-think my opinion of group work and discover some of the potential of combining learners into groups to help everyone.

Reflective

We often think that during group work some group members do all the work and others share the credit without deserving it.

Interpretive

When we spend a little time explaining the rules and tasks of everyone in a group project, group work can be a terrific opportunity for students to hone important skills and enjoy working as a group.

Decisional

I discovered group work as an alternative to the “self-study” sections in our program. Whereas now students do not do the required work, converting the sections into group assignments and having the group present the result to the whole class has the potential to teach leadership skills and is an efficient way to teach materials that would otherwise be dry and cumbersome.

EDUC 4250          Foundations of Online Teaching and Learning

Objective

This course was one of my favourite courses in the series. It was challenging and I gained a lot of new insights while being able to draw on experience and knowledge I gained in the PIDP courses I took before.

Reflective

Even before I started working at the college, I worked on online courses either my own or in an employment situation. EDUC 4250 made me see how simply putting classroom teaching online makes it difficult for many students to succeed in learning the material.

Interpretive

If we design our courses specifically for online learning our students can take advantage of all the opportunities online learning can have. We can offer different learning modalities, assignments, and assessments. In asynchronous designs we can give our students the opportunity to learn at their own pace.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions in our lives. Some of these changes caused us to re-think the necessity of working and learning in the traditional in-person style. Just like work teams have to re-design the way they work together, we have to re-design the way we help our students learn.

Decisional

For me, this final course in the PIDP journey has brought together all the elements of the previous courses I took. I now approach course design and class preparation in a different way. My lessons include a lot more opportunities for my students to participate. I offer opportunities to read close captions, I offer recordings to review the material. I am excited about the possibility to assign groups to projects and have them present to the rest of the class.

I am looking forward to taking the rest of the courses in the Teaching Online Certificate program later this year.

Appendix

I published most of my assignments as posts on my blog https://frithjof.blog

3250

Examining What Motivates Students

Helping Students Succeed

Schema Theory in Teaching

Classroom Management Report

Student Engagement Techniques

3100

2021 Trends In Trades

An Educated Person is One Who Has Learned How To Learn

2021 Trends in Adult Education

Indigenous Learning Cultures

The Neurodivergent Owner’s Manual

Online Learning Skills – Opportunity or Hurdle for Trades Education?

3210

Unhiding the Hidden Curriculum

Essential Skills in Trades Education

3230

The Four Traps of Evaluation

Instructor Feedback Using Google Forms

The Importance of Participation in Trades Education

3260

My Teaching Philosophy

A Safe Space To Learn

Four Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching

Feedback Instrument

The Gifts And Handicaps We Bring to The Table

The Balance Of Power In The Classroom

Resistance

Roads Go Ever On – My Future In Education

Solving an Ethical Dilemma

Cultural Safety Education

Critical Incident Questionnaire

To PID And Beyond

3300

Scaffolding for Brain Development

Virtual Reality and the Brain

3340

Group Work Doesn’t Have To Suck

4250

Challenges and Opportunities of Online Learning

A Closer Look at Learning Theory

Recommendations for Online Course Improvements

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