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‘Outstanding’ use of flexible learning highlighted by Ofsted in wake of FELTAG report

David Grailey is chief executive of NCFE, the national awarding organisation

In March, I spoke about the report that came from the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG), which shook the sector with its vision of a digital future.

The recommendations suggest big changes for Further Education, including a steep increase in the amount of e-assessment and the use of e-badges to accredit learning in virtual environments.

It also proposed that learners will be asked through Ofsted surveys about the online aspect of their courses, encouraging providers to deliver engaging content through innovative models.

There’s no doubt about it, FELTAG’s recommendations throw up many challenges to add to the tide of change that the FE sector is currently facing. And there are certainly some question marks over how their suggestions should be implemented. For example should we really be forcing providers into online delivery using funding requirements? I’m not sure this is the right way to encourage the shift.

However, looking at the report as a whole, NCFE supports the recommendations and believes that digital methods can provide a learner-centric approach to education, helping us to fit learning to individual needs.

There’s no doubt about it – the pace of technological change is accelerating and it’s vital that the education sector keeps up with this. But what does this look like in real terms? What tangible examples do we have? And how will the use of learning technology influence and impact upon the reputation of a college / training provider?

Well, it was interesting to see that Ofsted recently published their report following the inspection of one of England’s largest training providers, Learning Curve Group (LCG), and the report particularly highlighted LCG’s ‘outstanding’ flexible learning provision.

The report recognises the organisation’s student support via ‘electronic’ learning, the excellent use of online resources and highly effective learner tracking software including a new system which allows tutors and colleges to effectively track learner progress at all stages.

The inspection grades quite clearly link LCG’s high quality blended learning provision to ‘outstanding outcomes for learners’ and I believe this is something that we will see more and more.

Learners have come to expect a high level of sophistication when it comes to the way their learning is delivered and what’s more, it’s clear that Ofsted puts a significant value on e-learning technology. Colleges and training providers can’t afford to be slow in adopting new approaches – it’s no longer a ‘nice to have’ but rather a ‘must have.’ So what are you waiting for?

David Grailey is chief executive of NCFE, the national awarding organisation

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