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Published January 16, 2011 | Multidisciplinary

Platform Series: DECclic

The first in a short series of stories featuring the variety of learning environments in use at colleges, this story by Suzanne Banville is an account of her use of DECclic.  As passionate about biology as she is about teaching, Ms Banville’s honourable mention at the AQPC convention in June 2010 was no surprise. Ms Banville is a creative communicator in her scientific papers as well, and last summer, she revealed her great talents as a popularizer of her subject to North Shore listeners of Radio-Canada. During the program Bonjour la Côte, the host Sebastien Poulin-Fortin talked about nutrition and protein and spoke with the teacher about viruses and H1N1 influenza.

In this article, Suzanne Banville explains her reasons for adopting the very versatile learning platform DECclic.

Several Profweb reviews and stories have already presented interesting information about this platform and its accompanying pedagogical environment which include video tutorials, a community of practice, training within the Performa program, internship supervision, online evaluations and an online help center. In 2010, DECclic put together "DECclic's ESL Café," an activity designed to reach out to ESL teachers working in the French college network. The activity houses a large number of video tutorials designed to train teachers to use the DECclic platform. A brief story about this activity appeared in ProfWeb."The Staff Room" (the English equivalent of L'Espace des profs) will be developed as a Community of Practice on Moodle, starting with a promotional appearance at both RASCALS and the AQPC in 2011. A search in Profweb English reveals 20 columns and 15 stories where the term DECclic is mentioned.

Why are you an ardent promoter of DECclic?

This platform has changed my teaching! I have been using the DECclic teaching platform for over 4 years. I've always been very techno, and it was this environment that allowed me to coherently assemble all the tools I have developed. My website went online in 1999, and early on I started programming on my own and inserted questionnaires from Net Quiz! I remain a fan of DECclic although other platforms are available, mainly because it is a platform specifically designed for teaching and learning in a college environment.

Being specifically designed for the college context means more than the platform can just retain schedules and grades from one session to the next. With DECclic, everything remains in place (assessments, rubrics, timing, hyperlinks, audio and video files, etc.) I only need to make some minor adjustments, and I'm ready to roll at the beginning of a new semester!

DECclic Schedule Page

In addition, DECclic offers teachers a lot of support. During a presentation by Mr Michel Paquette, the local DECclic representative at college Baie-Comeau, I realized just how useful Exam Studio could be. The few hours later invested in an online course, given by Claudette Ouellette of DECclic, paid handsome dividends in saved time during corrections. As a bonus, students love to do the tests made on ExamStudio!

La corporation Plateforme collégiale DECclic is a nonprofit organization composed of thirty colleges in Quebec represented by a General Assembly composed of general managers of each member establishment. It is the successor to the DECVIR Corporation founded in 1998. It also offers other really convenient resources for teaching and learning (Learning Objects). As well, I often make links directly to the web, and DECclc has offered assistance and tools to facilitate this process for years. DECclic’s transition to Moodle promises to make things even better!

I often use Jing, a video screen capture software, to quickly explain a procedure for my students such as optimizing search elements or facilitating lab report layout. In DECclic, each teacher has enough memory for these kinds of complex activties, and DECclic will increase memory to a client to suit their requirements. The integration of many videos is not a feature that is supported by all platforms.

Explanation (in French) involving the use of C-maps filed in a DECclic schedule.

Give me some examples of convenient applications specific to DECclic.

I appreciate using the schedule and Exam Studio! The schedule is the starting point of my classes. I explain to my students how it showcases what they have to do. I include links to questionnaires in DECclic's Exam Studio, other questionnaires such as Netquiz, and relevant sites for biology such as CCDMD's La cellule animale. This site, designed by Melanie Villeneuve and CCDMD, received an honorable mention in October 2008 at the Awards competition of the ministre de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport.

The schedule is also my control tower. I enjoy telling my students that I am a bit of a "control freak" thanks to the fact that students’ use of the DECclic site can be tracked. I know what time a student did a formative exercise designed with Exam Studio, how many tries were made and the results obtained at each attempt! In general, students can do these exercises at their convenience, although in some cases, a time limit is imposed. Students are responsible for their own work, however, once the deadline has passed, I can contact those students who are falling behind and ask them to come meet me. I ask them if they have difficulty using DECclic. Students appreciate the fact that they are not anonymous and are noticed.

Is DECclic difficult for students to use?

Not really, but in the beginning of the year, I make sure incoming students have access to their account and that they gave me their email address. I also use this time to offer them a first reading activity at home with a formative questionnaire.This first questionnaire, which deals with important elements of the syllabus, avoids my having to read it to them in class. This lab session takes about 15 minutes.

Excerpt from a PowerPoint presentation about the DECclic schedule

What is the impact of the grading feature in Exam Studio?

I can increase the opportunities to give feedback while decreasing my corrections by nearly 70%! True formative assessment becomes a reality! I can offer several training activities before an exam without increasing my correction workload. The practice questionnaires can be completed at the convenience of the student and as many times as necessary until the desired result is obtained. The exams are an excellent preparation for summative exams on paper.

Of course, the summative evaluation correction workload can also be alleviated! Small activities with a value of 1% to 5% can be done online with a cumulative value of 15% to 20% of the total grade. These activities are performed at the end of some laboratories and team activities. The questions are randomly presented and answers are also placed in random order, which prevents cheating. The time attributed to respond to questionnaires is limited as well.

What was your involvement with DECclic last year?

I gave a training session to a small group of colleagues on Exam Studio. This group included teachers from a number of different disciplines. They learned how to put a formative exam on line in three short sessions.

In your opinion, what are the key features in a learning platform?

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