The Isle of Wight Radio Society has a long tradition of providing training for its members, and many members have gained their license as a consequence of the training provided by the club.
Background of Training
The Isle of Wight Radio Society has a long tradition of providing training for its members, and many members have gained their license as a consequence of the training provided by the club. At present, there are three people who are providing training, two for Foundation and Intermediate, and one for the Full license. The club also has many experienced members, some of whom were trainers in earlier times, but all of whom are very willing to help newcomers in their learning, and to provide information to people starting out for the first time. This makes the available resource to new people very comprehensive.
The content of the training process is determined by the regulating body which is Ofcom. As they are responsible for managing the use of the radio spectrum allocated to Radio Amateurs, they are very specific about what they feel people should know and be able to do in order to safely and responsibly use radio spectrum. The content of the syllabus is managed by the Radio Society of Great Britain, in conjunction with Ofcom. Discussions take place on a regular basis, and during the last couple of years there have been significant revisions of the content of all three exams.
Officers of the RSGB have the final say in the content of the learning material, but widely consult with members of the RSGB about the appropriateness of the content, the way in which it is presented, and the examination processes. Up until recent times all of the examinations have been paper-based, and students study with tutors or on their own, and then take the exams at the club’s venue, supervised by people appointed by the RSGB. However, in recent times there is a strong move towards taking the exams online, and also being remotely supervised so that attendance at the club’s premises is not necessary, although the club in normal circumstances is happy to provide the means for these examinations to take place.
The Learning Process
People come to radio through lots of different routes. Some have been around radio and electronics for many years, and to others it is a whole new territory and learning a new language. People’s level of understanding and their ability to learn new material varies enormously, and what we try to do at the club is to adjust our teaching method to suit the individual’s needs so that they can learn effectively in the best way possible for them. We do not have large numbers of students all at once wanting to train, but we do have a steady flow of people who would like to either gain their new license, or add to a license maybe they achieved at a lower level some years before. For some people it has been a long time since they studied, and so personal adjustment is needed. However, the material provided by the RSGB to aid learning is of high quality, and although people can use this to study on their own, it is recommended that people attend a course supported by trainers as this makes the learning process more interesting. Individual learning points can be conveyed, and questions answered and clarified during the learning process. People will still need to study between tutor-led tutorials, and the books provided by the RSGB are an excellent basis for this to happen.
The foundation and intermediate exams require the student to undertake practical assessments, and these have to be supervised by registered trainers, who then certificate the learning for the individual, which has to be acknowledged by the RSGB when the individual takes their exam. The practical’s are not a threatening process, but provide the opportunity for the student to learn in a practical way some of the things that they have been learning in theory. We try to make this as interesting a process as possible, and tend to run the practical’s like a workshop.
The Teaching Process
Courses are arranged depending on the number of people who are wishing to become qualified at any particular time. Sometimes a course may run with several members, or it might run for a single individual, on a one-to-one basis. Because of the variability of the people and numbers of people applying for courses, we have not found it practicable to schedule a program of courses. It is therefore possible you may have to wait a while to begin a particular course until the previous course is completed. With two trainers, we can mix-and-match, and are often running a foundation course and I an intermediate course in parallel. This has seemed to work for us up to now. Most people who study with us have achieved their license.
For the advanced examination, we recommend that people do a distance learning course with an established provider like the Bath Radio Society, who provide online tuition and testing in the learning stages. We have people in the club, one tutor in particular, who can provide tuition for the full license courses if people want it, to supplement the online tuition.
Once a student has reached a level which the tutor judges to be suitable for the student to take the exam, the club arranges the administrative process for the examination to take place. Taking the online exams, the result is immediate, but for people using the paper process, there may be a short period before the RSGB confirms the pass, and the student can apply to Ofcom for their license.
Sometimes for a variety of reasons a student may have to break off from their training. If this happens, we try to support that person when they are ready to return to their learning.
The current tutors are David Downer M0GQJ and Mike Reaney, M0IES, for the foundation and intermediate courses, and Roger Wilkins G8NHG for their full license tutorials. Other full license holders are also available to provide support to students if they wish during the learning process.
Graham Coleman M5IIT