31 August 2020

CASE: Vocational Education (VE) at Defensie Vaarschool with GPAL

The Challenge

The Defensie Vaarschool (Defence sailing school) is part of the Dutch navy and organises all nautical training within the different organisations of the Dutch Armed Forces.  The courses include, among others, boating licence, bridge simulations, and restocking a navy ship.

The courses of the Defensie Vaarschool are generally very practical. 

This fits well with the nature of the course. However, due to COVID-19 a lot of the practical courses were cancelled and students had to stay at home. It was important for students to be able to quickly continue their education independently and without the direct explanation of the teacher, who was often there to provide demonstrations. For certain practical tasks, such as making knots, this turned out to be a real challenge.

The school therefore successfully established an online education module in a short period of time. However, clear instructional videos, in which the practical aspect of the study material could easily be demonstrated, were missing. These were seen as vital for motivating students to practise at home. Having the videos made by the audiovisual department would take up a lot of time and it would be difficult to adjust once they were made. Teachers therefore took the initiative to make instructional videos themselves, using GPAL to easily upload and share the videos with the students. The remaining question was how to distribute these videos easily amongst dispersed students. GPAL was very useful for this. 

The Approach

After a brief explanation of how GPAL works, a small team within DVS started making instructional videos. Within a few weeks, dozens of videos with instructions and assignments were available in the GPAL app for all students at home. 

Students could now easily practice the material at home independently. Examination could also partly be done from home. Students were asked to make videos of them carrying out assignments and to upload them in the GPAL app. 

This way the teacher could evaluate the student’s work more individually. Within only two weeks, practical education could be resumed by remote learning. 

The Results

Improved and flexible education 

GPAL contributes to the flexibilisation of education. Videos in the app can be used in numerous different ways. For learning, testing, and refreshing of knowledge as well. It also allows students to use their time more efficiently and assignments can be done and evaluated remotely. The time invested in making the videos already saves a lot of time now. For example, the videos are easily adaptable when something changes in the online courses. It is very easy to make changes to an online course. The teacher also has more time to give individual feedback, because the basic knowledge and assignments are done independently. This creates a more efficient course programme with better results. On average, students scored 10-15 points higher than before. 

Vocational education with GPAL at Defensie Vaarschool 

Meanwhile schools are open again and GPAL is still actively used at DVS. This new form of education is perfectly aligned with the objective of vocational education. 

Previously, the Defensie Vaarschool focused on traditional forms of education. Now, students receive basic information in the classroom and then independently watch instructional videos. Next, they can practise with the material themselves and make a short video showing their newly learned skills. In the GPAL app the videos can be uploaded and the creator can receive feedback from their peers and teachers. 

“This is a real example of vocational education, because students learn independently in the context”
– John