Southern IML Pathology

It has been quite a challange for us to embark on the E learning ship. Since accepting the grant to introduce an instructional DVD in our distance education pilot program we have had quite an adventure learning about the foreign language of "wikis, blogs, pods, widgets" etc
For me it has been a very difficult task to learn and adapt when I have many other constant demands in my work role. I don't have every day of the week to devote to the Elearning project and I find that I require a great deal of time to be able to become relativly comfortable with this process.

I was convinced that we could "do better" than our existing on line course which was proving to be a disapointment. It is very costly and is presented as flat PDF files. I decided that I would use "Moodle" to develope a online course that would be interactive, informative and demonstrative to the student. I would also have the advantage of being able to edit and update the course myself as required.

I have used the DVD that was developed with the grant, cut it into segments,then uploaded these segments onto a public domain and created the links to the online site. I first tried Edublogs but found that the restrictions with this site were too prohibitive to be a success. blipTV has been more useful as the file size can exceed 48MBs and the quality of the videos is better than Edublogs.

With the help of Alexander Hayes I have learnt about and accessed free sites to enable me to develope audio power points to include in the site as well as ARED activities with the help of Shane Dowd.

Tania Tsiamis who has a project also in Wollongong has been a great help to me and we have met and " bashed our heads together' on a few occassions to get through Moodle idiosyncrasies.Having someone to share findings and frustrations, as well as achievments with, is a very valuable tool when you are faced with a project like this.

I have found that the on line groups have not been convienient for me and I have not been able to attend the sessions. When you are working in the private sector and trying to juggle many different tasks in any given day forward planning does not always work.

Now to the project itself.
We advertised an information session in Wagga Wagga to see if there was any interest in the region for training in Pathology Specimen Collecting. We invited Job Network providers, employers and prospective students to attend. I flew to Wagga Wagga for the information session. There were over 70 prospective students in attendance, two prospective employers but only one Job Network representative. The local DET representative was there and he was suprised by the attendance of students.
Information session in Wagga Wagga

There was a lot of interest from the students and we recieved 25 applicatiions from self funded students. This being a pilot program we needed to keep the numbers small. The students were interviewed for suitability and thirteen students accepted. The course was introduced as a distance program with a series of instructional DVD's and CD's to assist the students understand the practical aspects of the course. The students were advised to contact any of the members of the training school at any time if they had any concerns or problems. We all became very familiar with them and felt we knew them well before meeting them in the flesh!

Click on the link below to view the workshop in the Riverina
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They started the course in early July and had until September to complete the theoretical components of the practical units.

During this time Google had introduced 'Maps" and I was able to produce a mapping activity and used this for the Home Visit module.This was the first time for some of the students, to use a computer, to complete an activity.They were given a list of "patients" and adresses, including the tests that the patients had to have performed. The student had to prioritise the patients, map out a daily work route and include in their prioritising specimens that had to return to laboratory for processing urgently. They had a time limit and had to take into account traffic and weather conditions. Everyone found it a fun exercise, and for many, a useful tool that they can adapt into everyday life.

Before the workshop we sent a questionaire to each of the students to assess the value of the DVD's. The feedback was positive. We learnt that the instructions that we send to the students need to state that they must watch the DVD before attempting any of the assessment tasks. Some students watched them over and over and others had to be reminded to view them. We realised by the quality of the assessmnet tasks that they had obviously been scanning the course work for the answers to questions and not reading the information or watching the DVD's!

An example od the DVD can be viewed below - Click on the link
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September came and it was time for us to go to Wagga Wagga and present the face to face practical workshop. This was a huge task as we had to transport 25 cartons of supplies to the local BEC where the course was to be held.
No such a thing as travelling light

The trainers travelled the day before the course and set up the room. The next day the eager students arrived. The workshop was held over 6 days and was a great success. During that time Prime TV filmed and interviewed students and trainers at the workshop and aired it on the local news. This was a big thing for the Riverina to have training of this type from an enterprise based RTO.
Do as I say
The trainer breathing for him!

A very positive spin came to us when we were told that the public hospital in the Wagga Wagga area was interviewing some of the students for jobs as Pathology collectors even though they had not completed the course! There was a lot of excitment among the students and of course competition!

Click on the link below

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At the end of the course the students and trainers all had a long lunch to celebrate the end of the workshop. I could see by the interaction between the trainers and the students that the workshop was a sucess.The Operations Manager from Douglass Hanley Moir a local Pathology Practice and sister company to Southern IML Pathology attended the after workshop session and both she and her Collecting supervisor took the oportunity to meet the students. They were impressed by the attitude and enthusiasm and as a consequence have since employed two of the students.
Click on the link below - The student got a job!
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October 2008 we now have 8 of the original 13 Wagga Wagga pilot program students employed in Pathology Collecting jobs.The employers in the area are thrilled to have a ready trained pool of people to employ.
So what have we learnt?
Not to be afraid of technology

The on line moodle course that I am developing will take time. I have completed 2 of the 14 units required for the course. Initially I was very slow and had to "crawl' my way into the learning of the program, ever afraid that I would "break" something! I have had Alexander Hayes to consult with on issues as they arose. The only way to learn about technology is to go in head first and keep at it.
Reflecting back on the period of time that has elapsed since we accepted the Elearning grant I realise that I have introduced a huge amount of elearning technology into our course. I have gradually been slipping in small changes over the months, not realising myself the improvemnets inthe training.Our feedback from the students is positive and the impact on the intagration of the new collectors into the system has been positive. The new collectors are able to be independant workers 3-6 months sooner than previously.

Click on the link below - a Managers views of the training outcome

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My initial reaction to the Wicki space was shock / horror total confusion. Now I am quite comfortable with it as well as building a course on Moodle. The Innovations grant started as production of DVD's for distance learning and has developed into production of a new on line course that we have total control over as welll as introduction of skills and websites to enhance learning for both students and trainers.

With my new found Elearning knowledge I am using it to save time and of course expense when promoting our course. We have deveopled a promotional DVD and this along with a DVD containing our forms is sent to those interested in the course.We have generated a lot of interest with Job Network providers all over the country and from our little pilot in Wagga Wagga we have in this very short time expanded to ACT / Orange / Adelaide and Tasmania!!

Click the link below to view our promotional Distance DVD

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I am able to pass on the knowledge that I have gained to the trainers in the organisation and with the development of the "new" on line course using Moodle we are enabling people from areas that would not have been able to attempt the course to skill up and join the workforce. Burnie and Launceston in Tasmania are such an example.
This project has opened many doors for the staff in our training organisation. We will all continue to learn and introduce innovations into our technology without fear of failure.

We have gained important networking links that have been able to bring us forward into the new millennium. News has spread throughout our sister companies and only yesterday I was contacted from one such company in Queensland and asked to advise them on the Moodle platform!