Camosun College Automotive Department Brings Applied Training Online
When Camosun College shifted to online course delivery in March to address the global COVID-19 pandemic, Automotive Service Technician Program Leader Pat Jones, and instructors Mike Bocsik and Jim Gough, sprung to action to ensure that their students could successfully complete the term and to provide hands-on training creativity from a safe social distance.
"We were able to wrap up our third year class by moving swiftly into online delivery using platforms such as D2L and BlackBoard Collaborate," explains Jones. "We wanted to replicate as much of the in-class experience as possible, so we met online at the usual time every day, took attendance and essentially hosted a live, face-to-face virtual classroom."
Jones delivered theory and tests while working with his team to develop online activities that would bring hands-on learning to the virtual environment.
"We know that hands-on training is essential especially when working with vehicles," says Jones. "We partnered with a platform called Electude which gives students a detailed simulation of a vehicle engine on their screen. They can use a simulated scan tool, oscilloscope, multimeter, and fuel pressure guage to perform comprehensive diagnostic testing of engine control systems such as voltage levels, resistance, sensor operation; along with simulated wiring repair, component replacement, and much more."
The simulation is comprehensive, done in real-time and afterwards students are assessed as though they had worked on a real engine.
"It's a very fancy, complex program," notes Jones. "After completing the simulation the students write a report on what they did and then achieve a grade for it. The simulation of vehicle diagnostics and repair is very effective and the feedback we received from students was positive. Going forward, we're looking at how we can integrate this platform into our regular learning in the shop because it's a very useful tool."
One student found the simulation so compelling, he logged 42 hours in only a couple of weeks. And after surveying students, the instructor team was pleased to hear students expressing appreciation for their creativity and commitment to supporting them as they completed their term online.
Bocsik has taken a similarly innovative approach with his course sections.
"I've been downloading and adding content to D2L, streamlining the experience for students so that when they come into the new online environments, there's a sense of flow," he explains. "We've been working closely with the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and they've just been fantastic at supporting every aspect of what we're doing. I can't say enough about how helpful they've been."
Like Jones, he envisions a hybrid future where online approaches enhance face-to-face learning.
"Moving forward, even after all of this, when we transition back to face-to-face, we'll still be able to use a lot of this content for students," notes Bocsik. "I didn't think it would go as well as it did, but it worked really well and the feedback from students was unanimously positive, very appreciative that we kept the class together."
Instructor Jim Gough has also been experimenting with live and recorded technical training videos, filming himself working on engines, giving tutorials about using different tools and machines, and going over the basics of engine maintenance and repair.
"I just did one where I took apart an engine, and I did it live," notes Gough. "That allowed for real-time interaction with students, and lots of talking back and forth and answering questions."
With Gough's initiative, the Automotive Department now has a growing library of over 20 technical training videos.
"They're not perfect, but they are authentic and timely," says Gough. "I was filming one about pressure washing and forgot to turn the water on. I could talk about that in the video in the context of the challenges we all face in real life. These things happen and that's how we learn together."
For more information about Camosun's Automotive Service Technician Program, please visit the department website. You can watch automotive instructor Jim Gough demonstrate how to use a hydraulic press on YouTube.