From education to employment

Government recommends 50% online provision by 2017

Nigel Eccelsfield is head of change implementation support programmes for FE and skills at Jisc

There is one part of the government response to the FELTAG recommendations that has really got teachers and managers in FE and skills talking This much discussed point is the aim to increase the amount of content delivered online to ten percent by the end of the 2014-15 academic year, and to 50% by 2017.

It’s an aspiration rather than a firm target. However it’s a clear signal that the government is determined to harness digital technologies to transform learning, and the provision of learning, over the next decade. The vast majority of learning providers are really keen to understand what this means in practice. They want to know how to improve learner experience, reach more overseas learners and help make their learning provision more accessible. If it helps providers to achieve economies too, so much the better.

But it’s quite a significant challenge, which is why I’m pleased to report that we’ve been meeting with the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) to agree on a programme of work to support the sector. Together ETF and Jisc are funding projects for £2.25m to work on ways to help colleges and skills providers, as well as their staff, to use digital technologies more effectively to boost learner experience. This will help providers to meet the challenges of increasing online learning.

At the AoC Conference this autumn Jisc and ETF be launching a series of initiatives involving more than 40 projects that will be running during the coming academic year. Many are based on work we’ve been doing with the sector since January, using our ‘co-design’ approach to identify and shape projects in line with the sector’s main priorities.

Much work has already been done to help the sectore to share expertise, avoid mistakes and reduce duplication of effort, so they can make progress quicker and start to experience economies of scale.

Jisc has an important part to play on a local level. As Maren Deepwell of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) pointed out in her article in FE News in June, there are really strong examples of innovation in the sector. The Education Technology Action Group (ETAG) is working on how to increase sharing and exchanging best practise, and Jisc will be focusing our efforts on creating lots of online and face-to-face opportunities to help people share their successes and failures and to foster collaborative relationships. We’ve already made a start, with a session dedicated to exploring the FELTAG recommendations and the government response during the Online Innovation Week in mid-July.

Jisc has rich resources available. For example through Jorum, which is the UK’s largest repository for open education resources. By encouraging learning providers to put their resources into an open repository under Creative Commons licences, we aim to create a rich source of teaching and learning materials that can be accessed free of charge by providers and reused, adapted and developed further to meet specific needs.

The sectors membership bodies and those that work with them, like Jisc, will be working together with staff on the ground in local providers to make sure that all decisions will involve them. Working together we’ll achieve even the most ambitious targets!.

Nigel Eccelsfield is head of change implementation support programmes for FE and skills at Jisc

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