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NCFE Telematics Basic Level Tutor Resource Pack reviewed


NCFE Telematics Basic Level Tutor Resource Pack

Authors:Gilian Fielding and Veronica Le Cheminant
Publisher: The Vergil Group, e-mail [email protected]
Year: 2000
ISBN: n/a
Price: £206 + £10 UK postage
Format: A4 ringbinder pack, floppy disk

The Telematics Tutor Pack is designed for tutors working with the NCFE (Northern Council for Further Education) Certificate in Telematics, an introductory course delivered widely in colleges and other centres across the UK. The pack also contains materials aimed at assessors and verifiers and records of work that are intended to be copied for students. Purchase of the pack allows centres to copy all materials freely for internal use.

The pack is well designed and produced, easy to use and conveniently divided into five sections. The first two sections are mainly concerned with the assessment and verification process. As well as providing guidance for new tutors about how these processes work, there are also a few pages that could be copied for students, including sample forms to record their work, and guidance on how to go about putting together a portfolio. Section three contains more forms. Section four, the bulk of the pack consists of a detailed set of lesson plans covering twenty sessions, or about one term’s work. Finally, Section five is an extremely helpful fully worked example of a student portfolio consisting of a mixture of student input, tutor comment, and completed assessment forms. There are also a number of annotated sample screen dumps, illustrating how a very conscientious and skilled student could use callouts in Word to improve the presentation of her portfolio.

The twenty lesson plans provide a thorough introduction to the use of the web, email and ancillary services. Whether or not this can really be called “telematics” is a moot point, but that’s how NCFE defines it and this pack is designed for their qualification. The lesson plans for each session are well thought out, and follow each other in a fairly logical sequence. I’m not sure about the objectives, which rely too heavily on woolly terms like “have an understanding of” and “be familiar with” – but in practice, the lessons would all lead to more clearly demonstrable assessment criteria. The actual delivery of a successful course around this pack would depend upon a lot of things that can’t be controlled by the tutor – the quality and age of the hardware and software available, whether the network has designed with the needs of learners or administrators paramount, the speed and efficiency of internet connectivity and so on. However, assuming that all these things had been set up reasonably well, and the browser and email software available was fairly mainstream and up to date, there shouldn’t be too many problems for a resourceful tutor in following this guide. The pack also contains a few role play and group work exercises, which are unusual in ICT but very welcome – for example, a discussion around issues of censorship and other criteria that would need to be considered when setting up an Internet Access Centre.

The exercises suggested are clear, and on the whole, sufficiently flexible to deal with the potentially confusing rate of change in the way the web works. They cover both technical and non-technical issues – the section on using Hotmail suggests downloading and reading the Conditions of Use. There’s a little bit of inconsistency in the way web addresses are listed (some have http://,others don’t). Similarly, we find e-mail, email and electronic mail on the same page. Although minor points, these can be quite confusing for a very new student. However, most of the search engines and other mainstream web sites quoted and illustrated still look much the same, although it is important to point out repeatedly that web site addresses often change, and tactics to adopt when this happens (check your spelling and symbols carefully, check the network is working ok, go back one directory and so on). There isn’t much on more sophisticated search techniques either – students can waste an enormous amount of time searching for very general terms in inappropriate ways.

Exams such as this generate an enormous amount of paperwork for both student and tutor. It would be good if guides like this could help in reducing this burden – for example, why can’t students produce portfolios on CD ROMs or personal web sites rather than in ring binders. One would have thought that it should be possible (even mandatory) in Telematics. Instead, the student is told (in Session 6) to get eight assessment plans and write out his or her name, unit titles, element tiles and so on. A clued-up tutor would at least give students the file copies of the forms to make it a bit easier.

Despite these minor quibbles however, the guide is very strongly recommended. For the cost of about a dozen part-time teaching hours, colleges can obtain a licence to copy materials from the pack which will save all tutors many hours of unnecessary work.

David Evans, E-Learning Developer, Financial Projections Ltd. You can download a sample pack from the Vergil site at


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