19 February 2022

The Online World – Help with Revision to Pass the Exam

If you study the BTEC L2 First Extended Certificate in Information and Creative Technology (or the BTEC L2 in IT as we more simply call it where I teach!) then you will know that Unit 1 (The Online World) comes in the shape of an external exam.  Past papers are quite difficult to find and – of course – take an hour to do.  That's the best part of a class gone.

These “Do It Now” activity sheets are designed to get students ready for the exam in short bursts. There are currently 12 revision sheets which you can buy as two separate sets or save yourself a little money by buying both sets at once. The Online World is a tricky one – it’s not so much that it is mega-difficult in itself. What makes it challenging are the  vast amount of learning aims (from online services to packet switching to transmission methods – and many, many more) plus the fact that the exam is only an hour long.  Each year I hear from my students “It would have been better if I had a bit more time").  If they had been able to recap the learning aims more thoroughly they might have been able to use the sixty minutes to better advantage.

I’ve been teaching on the BTEC Level 2 in IT since it started and I know the Online World (and its sibling exam, Unit 2, Technology Systems) are challenging for the reasons I have outlines above.  I’ve also taken on board the kind of questions that come up repeatedly and incorporated them into these sheets so that recall and recap can be done as painlessly as possible. There can even be an element of competition with these.

In response to the challenges of the The Online World, I developed  series of revision aids which have proven to be a huge hit with my learners.  They can be used both in and out of the classroom and take the shape of a set of recall questions. If you have not heard of “Do Nows” – they are brief warm-up activities that are usually at the beginning of a lesson to help students to start thinking. They are rooted in Dewey’s constructivist theory as well as Hinton, Fischer & Glennon’s active learning theories of student-centred learning (there's the science stuff!).

These can take place in the usual Online World session but can also be used at the beginning of any IT classes when the Online World exam is coming up. They are designed to be quick (five minutes for the questions, five for the answers) and to provide a different revision and recall route for your learners. However, they could just as easily be given out as homework or used by individual students for short revision bursts.  Students can adapt them in to their own revision timetable with ease – they can do them singly or even get a member of the family to ask the questions if they do them at home.

Each activity sheet contains two multiple choice, two “explain” questions and three “true or false” statements. The latter does not exist in the exam as a question type but is intended here, to give students quick and easy definitions for course elements that regularly appear in the exams. Elements from all Learning Aims are included on each sheet wherever possible, but Learning Aims A & B are at the forefront. Answers are included, of course!

As they are time-constrained they reproduce an exam-style atmosphere where students must spend five minutes silently working on the questions. The answers can then be delivered in a way that you choose, to best suit your learners. I tend to ask individuals the answers and choose them according to ability. This part of the activity can often provoke discussion which will help students recall the information again.

The activity sheets are formatted in PowerPoint – you can edit as you wish.

These activities have proven highly popular with my learners and I hope will with yours too!  If you are a learner reading this, also feel free to use them- they are on the website with the aim of helping you get through this nasty little exam!