Patrick Tucker,

During the COVID-19 crisis there has been a great push to utilise technology for the benefit of all, this is to be applauded. 

In a previous article (Colleges to take their role as Community Leaders, 9th April 2020) I have suggested that training providers must be open to radical reinvention to find new ways of working and generation of revenue. As an example, digital learning (VLE’s) have been around for decades (I myself was using Blackboard successfully with a great learning tool / carousel of activities way back in 2003), but for some its new and therefore will be going through a digital transformation at present.

However, post COVID-19 it’s not going to be as easy to maintain on-line. Many people will revert back to ‘type’ when we return to work. A digital transformation or reinvention will be needed.

The way apprenticeship providers have ensured that learning can continue through the use of various platforms must be celebrated and championed. However, amongst the very best of blended learning there are providers promoting 100% online delivered Apprenticeships. The funding rules state that apprenticeship training is not to be delivered entirely by self-directed online/distance learning (see page 22 paragraph 105.6 of the current apprenticeship funding rules). 

I would argue the structure of an Apprenticeship means it can’t be delivered fully online, and certainly not in volume where the key to delivering personalised IAG and support is lost. This is vital to create a rich tapestry where high quality learning and assessment can take place. 

Rather than offering and developing an apprenticeship that is 100% online, I would suggest developing your models to embrace a ‘blended learning’ approach that encompasses all the positivity of online delivery, face-face and group interaction.

Understanding the pedagogy of blended learning will be the key to unlocking a true augmented delivery package ensures a rich learning environment. A blended approach will utilise various methods to deliver learning combining face-to-face interactions with online activities, the balance between the classroom and digitally enabled activity varying depending on the design and implementation of the learning. Flexibility will develop self-directed learning skills and digital knowledge, a blended learning approach is a great way to augment the learner’s experience, but its advantages go beyond that.

Blended learning can help to bring together the main advantages of the teacher presence, immediate feedback, and peer interaction (including peer-peer learning), and also removes learner isolation and the possible difficulties with motivation. 

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My Friday thought piece also wants to focus on the positivity around technology and the use of the classroom / workshop and triangulating this into a foci for providers that leads not just to outstanding teaching, learning and assessment to drive achievement and progression, but also to ensure a measurable impact framework is achieved (the impact that has been had from the practices by understanding the pedagogy behind a blended learning approach). 

The triangulation starts with the learning, where this is to match the individual learning needs to that of the teaching and learning experience that you deliver ensuring outstanding learning and impact. Linking this to teaching and ensuring a clear match of staff experience, support and training which facilitates needs and develops improved performance that ensures outstanding teaching. 

Closing the triangle by having assessment (both formative and summative) that systematically and continually supports each individual learner in their progress and informs of the impact to the learner and to the employer. 

In doing this, I Just to pose two questions–

  1. Do you have a strategy for e-learning, blended learning and ILT, and if you do is it time to review it?
  2. Do you have a strategy to ‘flip’ the classroom to create flipped activities where learners can complete pre- and post-session to gain understanding of the session?

It is also important to develop a strong and rich collaborative learning environment, where learners will have a voice in their learning and their views, knowledge, understanding and opinion will be shared and valued in learning contexts. This can be done through:

  • Collaboration through the use of learning technologies,
  • Collaboration by seeing teaching, learning and assessment as a team process,
  • Collaboration to engage, to stretch, to challenge and to encourage,
  • Collaboration through peer-peer engagement, participation and learning. 

To conclude, it’s important to remember that learning is a social interaction, it works best and is at its most powerful when everyone feels able to contribute, question, challenge, explore and experiment. 

Promote-ed will be looking to host free webinars on the utilisation of a blended learning approach, including how a ‘flipped’ classroom can support and the psychology behind engaging learners to ensure an outstanding strategy can be developed. 

Promote-ed will also be looking to develop a document for all that focuses on ‘ways to retain your learner’, this is being done as a series of packages to support the sector. 

Patrick Tucker, Promote-Ed

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