Tom Burton, Director of Apprenticeships, NOCN

How has world of #remote education delivery changed, but still stayed the same? 

COVID-19 and the global pandemic certainly has changed the entire world of education, from early years through to higher education and continuous lifelong learning.

The urgent shift to remote or technological delivery across the globe, enforced by social distancing measures has resulted in societal based technological change.

Diffusion of innovation is a theory that seeks to explain how, why and at what rate ideas and technology spread through a specific population or social system. “The end result of this diffusion is that people, as part of a social system, adopt a new idea, behaviour, or product”.

Take for instance some of the major technological changes in the latter 20th century;

  • Organ transplants
  • Personal computers
  • Electronic funds transfer
  • Mobile phones, and the vital one in the COVID-19 context;
  • The Internet

All came about through diffusion of innovation.

Think the first time you held an IPhone, the wonder of possibilities it presented you with?

How will the diffusion of innovation change Apprenticeships delivery and End Point Assessment process?

For many years, corporate technology was far more advanced than anything available to the education professional. But two key dates – 2007 and 2010 (the launches of the iPhone and the iPad respectively) – decisively shifted this imbalance in favour of the regular consumer and now that of the educator and learner. 

Take the use of e-portfolios, 10 plus years in the market place, but defaulting to paper-based portfolios was just easier for some sectors. E-Learning platforms, VLE’s, all were the icing on the cake for an education providers’ offer, but were they really used to maximise learner engagement, retention and progression?

Despite the increased publicity recently, delivering remote assessment is also nothing new, with the diffusion of these innovations been somewhat limited, by again defaulting to what is perceived as the “known” face to face option.

Remote End Point Assessment delivery for NOCN wasn’t new in the last two weeks either, four years ago at the start of our EPA journey, it was the first method of delivery we used. Linking our End Point Assessors via Cisco’s WebEx platform with apprentices across England. Ensuring apprentices on the new financial services standards received a high quality and robust assessment process, while being able to maximise the flexibilities the technology had to offer.

The use of this tech has expanded across multiple sectors over the last four years with NOCN conducting remote End Point Assessments, in subjects such as Engineering Maintenance, Laboratory Science, Compliance and Risk, Team Leading, Science Manufacturing, as well as evolving the 15 individual financial service apprenticeships.

COVID-19, then saw NOCN quickly expand these remote delivery processes into some of our other sectors enabling apprentices who were part way through their EPA’s to continue to achievement, including remote examination proctoring using WebEX and the delivery of panel interviews for our degree level, Relationship Manager (Banking) EPA.

Considering NOCN’s experience in the last four years, I have pulled together our top tips to ensure that delivery and assessment using remote methods, really meets the needs of the learner and apprenticeship programme;

Top 10 Tips for On-programme Delivery

  1. Become an expert on using your preferred interface/sytem and how this links to your learner management system. Practice using it in your daily communications with other staff.
  2. Know how the individual learner experience will differ, maintain the need for individualisation.
  3. Document and share success stories helping other staff learn the art of the possible.
  4. Encourage your learners to read, or watch a video, on the subject as pre-work, before the next session.
  5. Teaching online takes longer, so you must cut content from in-person, to be self-learned in advance. Prioritise the “need to knows” vs the “nice to haves”.
  6. Play to your learner’s unique learning styles. Put you on your ‘A’ game as an enabler of content.
  7. Get comfortable with easy participation wins! Add games as you go to keep the session fresh, for both learners and yourself.
  8. Create an announcement-only Space for your online session, and another Space for your class to carry on conversation, e.g., WhatsApp, Messenger platforms
  9. Record the session so that those who missed it, can watch it. Share via a YouTube channel, remove access barriers.
  10. Follow up and encourage learners to add questions to any out-of-session platforms, like WhatsApp, for further discussion and brainstorming.

Top 10 tips for Assessment Delivery

  1. Ensure that the platform is stable, screens can be share and audio/video is a minimum capability.
  2. Ensure that you have a licence which covers all functionality you expect to use.
  3. Can the platform record and can that recording be shared in a universal format?
  4. Do you have limitation on number of users on any one session?
  5. Ensure that a quality assurance aspect can be used, e.g. reviewing completed assessments or sitting in on live assessments.
  6. Who will do the administration of the remote assessment, you need experts on the setup and roll out of remote assessment delivery.
  7. What is your plan “B”, in case a device fails or Wi-Fi fails?
  8. Ensure that the location of the learner is a “safe” “Secure” and “compliant” place.
  9. Support the assessors in the use of technology, make them also experts in the delivery and the functionality of the platform.
  10. Check what you already have in your business, don’t rush to buy the latest new platform, think outside the box and innovate, you will need a “make this possible attitude”

I believe this global pandemic will be a watershed moment for the sector, the somewhat forced move to digital productivity, will become the “go-to” option, increasing viability, productivity of the workforce and over-coming digital reluctance in many parts. It will however go hand-in-hand with the need to ensure that practical skills and application of knowledge is not lost.

Ensuring that a future proofed workforce are both able to interact remotely and be highly productive in practical skills to an international standard. 

Thomas Burton, Director of Apprenticeships, NOCN 

FE News caught up with Tom Burton, at EPA Live in Wembley, listen as he discusses End Point Assessment challenges, and what EPA logistics, how to address dual professionalism with delivery staff:

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