Guy Aucoin has been the Instructional Lead of the Nova Scotia Virtual School (NSVS) for the last two years. NSVS is a common provincial online learning platform created as a joint project between provincial school boards and the Department of Education in Nova Scotia. It currently offers 45 different courses to students across the province of Nova Scotia.
As Instructional Lead, Guy works closely with the online teachers in NSVS to ensure that the courses delivered through this system follow the Online Standards approved by the NSVS Management Board in cooperation with the Nova Scotia Department of Education. He also encourages teachers to ensure that students are actively engaged and that they use a variety of media to allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts in their courses. Developing fair and accurate assessment plans for these courses is also part of what Guy discusses with the online teachers.
Guy has been teaching online courses for the last seven years. Math courses (i.e., Calculus, Pre-Calculus), Film and Video and Entrepreneurship are some of the courses that Guy has taught online. He has also been involved in developing courses to be taught through NSVS.
The courses at NSVS provide students with the opportunity to work in an environment that has both synchronous and asynchronous components. Through Moodle, the students have access to their lessons. Moodle also allows them to submit their work and participate in different learning activities (e.g., quiz, forum, wiki, etc.). For the synchronous component, the online teacher meets with the students at least once a week through an online video-conferencing system. The online teachers also offer office hours throughout the week using the video-conferencing system. Students drop in to the virtual office to share work, get feedback and ask questions.
As an online teacher, Guy has been able to see students work with course content in a way similar to a classroom setting, but at times in an unique fashion. Self-motivated students seem to thrive in an online environment, as they are able to work at a pace that suits their needs and ability.
Taking an online course can also help solve some of the issues that might arise because of different circumstances. For example, last year Guy had a Calculus student who had been chosen to participate in the National Science Fair. This student would have missed one week of school to partake in this activity. Because the student knew well in advance that she would be involved in this activity, the flexibility of online learning allowed her to complete her work and still participate in this national event. Guy strongly believes that online courses help develop skills such as communication, personal development, problem solving and technological competencies; that will aid students as they continue their studies at the post secondary level, or as they venture into the job market.