There has been a flurry of activity of late around the need for schools to reform through more effective use of learning technology, as exemplified by Michael Gove, the Education secretary’s keynote speech at the comments to the BETT Show (11 January 2012). And we were pleased that the Department for Education invited the Association for Learning Technology and Naace (an organisation quite similar to ALT in the schools sector), to run an online “conversation” about technology supported learning in schools. The report from this will be published in May.
As I said at the time, this signaled a clear recognition by ministers of the need to break out of educational silos and think of lifelong learning – from primary to further and adult learning and on to HE. To echo the words of the Secretary of State: “We need (to continue) a serious, intelligent conversation about how technology will transform education.”
And this we are doing through a major one-day conference next month about large-scale curriculum redesign where technology plays a central role. The May 21st event in Birmingham will consist of a series of 35 minute plenary sessions run by a mixture of presenters and offer scope for wider debate and input. It is organised by the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) and the Association of Colleges (AoC).
All presenters have valuable insights to share. For example, Peter Kilcoyne, former JISC adviser and Director of ILT at Worcester College of Technology, will show how his college has implemented a new model of curriculum delivery based around the use of PAL (Personally Accountable Learning) Packs, with a resulting 15% reduction in contact hours. (A PAL Pack is a Moodle course that is specifically designed for independent study.)
The virtualisation curriculum project for South West College in Northern Ireland involved the provision of an on-line learning experience for 5,655 students for one week in November 2011. During this week students were able to interact with tutors and access a rich variety of resources relating to their course. Ciara Duffy, the virtualisation project manager will report.
Manchester Metropolitan University has recently begun an ambitious change programme, to transform its undergraduate curriculum. Coordinated activity across four interlinked strands enabled over 850 first year module specifications to be entered, reviewed, approved, set up in the student records system, timetabled and populated in a new VLE in 12 months. Mark Stubbs, who is leading the change programme will explain the approach, which has many lessons for FE and HE.
Howard Browes and Bob Harrison at Leeds City College will look at "How a large distributed FE college is using learning technology to bring about large scale organisational change". Leeds City College is the third largest general FE College in the UK, formed in 2009 on the merger of three Leeds colleges. The college's technology strategy supports 1700 staff and 90,000 student enrolments. The Principal and the Senior Management team have turned to technology to transform learning, kick-starting change in a coherent, consistent and cost effective way. Howard and Bob will share progress and lessons learned so far.
Donald Clark will challenge the conference about how education holds itself back by refusing to recognise that scalability matters. The web offers us truly scalable solutions, not just replication. Donald will argue that scalability should be a necessary condition for funding in education and that truly scalable solutions can now dramatically decrease the cost of education.
So come and join us on Monday 21 May at Lakeside Centre, Aston University Business School (10 minutes from Birmingham New Street Station). The cost is £75 – reduced fee for ALT members and for the employees of ALT and AoC member organisations – £105 for all others.
The hashtag for the event is #lscrd
For further information, and to book, go to http://www.alt.ac.uk/events/large-scale-curriculum-redesign
Read other FE News articles by Seb Schmoller: