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  • Bob KØNR

Online License Course Provides New Teaching Options

Our most recent Technician license class for the Tri-Lakes Monument Radio Association made use of the Ham Radio School online course. We were looking for a way to provide the students additional flexibility in consuming the course content while reducing the load on the instructor team. Our club places a high value on in-person interaction with the students which has many benefits, so we did not want to use a completely online approach.


The class Kick-off session was in-person with over 40 students attending.

We settled on a hybrid approach to the class that had three in-person sessions. For more details on the timing of these sessions, take a look at the flyer below.



Tech Flyer 2024 v2
.pdf
Download PDF • 1.78MB


Kick-off session

We started off with the Kick-Off session that introduced the instructor team and helped us get to know the students. We provided an overview of the course and demonstrated ham radio gear (handheld radios, HF contacts, repeater use, digital modes, etc.). We also reinforced expectations of student progress and engagement. After the Kick-off session, we launched the students on individual study via the Ham Radio School online class.


Exam session

Our club's VE team administered the FCC exam three weeks after the kick-off session. A key idea here is to have the students progress through the material at the same pace and get to the exam without making the class too long.


The VE team at work grading exams during the exam session.


Get On The Air session

One week after the exam, we held a Get On The Air session where the students used their newly issued callsigns to make radio contacts, mostly on VHF/UHF simplex and repeaters. We provided more Info on radio gear, local repeaters, and local clubs & activities. The students did make ham radio contacts and we helped them program their radios, as needed.


Pacing and Assistance

To keep the class on track and to check-in on any topics they needed help on, we held regular Zoom review sessions. These sessions were held online in the evenings during the week. We also assigned a volunteer Elmer (Mentor or Coach) from our club to tag up with each student. This turned out to be very successful and we consider it a new best practice for our radio club license classes. Each Elmer was assigned 3 or 4 students, and Elmers provided rapid Q&A response to students in between review sessions. Many Elmers also provided students additional demonstrations of their shacks and equipment recommendations.


Results and Feedback

For those students that followed through with the class (38), we had a 100% success rate on having them pass the Technician exam. We always survey our students after the class to obtain consistent feedback on the class and how we can improve. The feedback was very positive.


We asked them about the Ham Radio School online material and received these responses.



Not really a surprise, the video lessons received very high scores, along with the Summary/Review page and the Quizzes. The eBook feedback was down a notch, perhaps indicating that the students preferred to view the video rather than read text. The video covers all of the topics, so there is some redundancy built in to the system. Some of this relates to the preferred learning style of the student.


Instructor Team

We also asked about the role of the instructor team and the various sessions. The Kick-off Session, the Elmer Help and the Exam Session all received excellent marks. The Review sessions via Zoom and Help via email had noticeably lower scores. We are evaluating how to improve the Zoom Reviews. The lower score on Help via email probably just reflects the fact that not all students asked questions via email.


Conclusions

We are very pleased with the results from this class and will be using a similar approach for future classes. One of the surprises was how effective the use of Elmers turned out to be. A future "What's New?" blog post will dig into this with more detail.


I am sharing this experience with existing or potential license class instructors so they can work it into their plans. It takes work to offer a good license class and the Ham Radio School online system is a huge help. It takes a big load off the instructors and provides more flexibility for the students. I hope you find some of these methods helpful and you may want to adapt them to your local situation.


If you are interested in offering a license class using the Ham Radio School online course approach, drop us a note and we'll be happy to help with your planning.


73 Bob K0NR






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