Today I get to tell you all about something I've been working on in the background for a few weeks now, and I'm extremely excited that this day has finally come.
Mid Sussex Amateur Radio Society is going to get a full-blown professional online training academy.
Various parts of the jigsaw have been coming together in the last few days, and now I can start to imagine what it's going to look like and how it might work.
I make no apologies for thanking several people as part of this announcement, and I must start with the person who has made it possible, and that is Jon Hudson of SDRplay - a man known by some of you and by the wider amateur community as someone who has done so much to stimulate and support innovation and education in the field of radio communications.
Jon has very kindly given us access to a full training course, including all the individual educational elements required to deliver it. More detail will follow on exactly what it covers, but it's a modern course teaching modern radio practice and technology.
It's the first course that will be offered on a new MSARS platform, and I'll be rolling it out in stages - firstly to my ever helpful and willing friends Chris M7VJE and Merv M0WVE. They have volunteered to walk through the course as guinea-pig students to see how it teaches and how best to deliver and tailor it for the future.
The first part is down to me however, and that's the physical building of the new training environment. As part of that, I'm also very pleased to tell you that our web-hosting provider, an unsung and valuable friend to the society, has once again donated server resources to support an entirely new Learning Management System known as Moodle. Thank you sir.
Some of you may already be familiar with this system. It's widely used by schools and universities worldwide. It's a beast of a package and contains all the elements required to deliver first-class training programmes, though the learning curve for me is huge and it will take me some time to get to grips with it.
The LMS is already up and running on the MSARS webserver, and is being configured as we speak. This won't be a quick process however, and the phase after that will be the loading of the new course material - also a time consuming effort.
So a very sincere thanks to Chris and Merv for helping me out with finessing the course delivery side of things. It's no small undertaking, and I couldn't do this without their help. It'll be a lot of fun though, and we can run it in a flexible, bite-sized on-demand manner, as the course itself is an 11 week affair consisting of 11 one-hour 'lessons'.
Once everything has been properly bedded-in (and I suspect that this won't be until early 2023) I'm going to roll the programme out to a much wider audience.
That will involve me in actually teaching and supporting the course, though I'm hoping that some of you will be willing to help out with some ad-hoc student support on the in-built Moodle forums from time to time.
Once the platform itself is in place and tested, any course can be hosted on it. In the future, we can create introductory courses, RSGB-style courses and informal, lightweight one-hour courses on any topic - whatever we want. That's a lot of work, and probably enough to keep me busy for a couple of years, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.