“Over the past year we have been developing our delivery of functional skills for apprentices through technology and have built an in-house VLE (currently populated with ICT and maths resources) and an online delivery programme for maths and English. Our experiences so far show that this has enriched the learning experience – we are better able to provide differentiation, tutors can direct students to appropriate resources and give more one-to-one time to others.”
Claire Foxley, chief executive, The Royal Artillery Centre for Personal Development
A concept of digital entitlement
With exposure to technology in almost every aspect of our daily lives, learners expect their programmes of learning to routinely include digital experiences that reflect workplace practices. Some of the digital advantages of doing so are outlined in our section on developing your digital vision.
Our research has shown several key challenges that underpin the ability of staff to use digital technologies effectively within the curriculum, many of which have been referenced elsewhere in this guide:
- The environment must be capable of supporting a digitally enhanced curriculum
- Staff need the skills and confidence to make the most of the technologies available
- Learners have much to contribute if they are appropriately engaged and empowered
- Bringing all of these aspects together requires a holistic approach to developing your digital vision and strategy
Three elements that significantly contribute to successfully embedding the use of technology to enhance learning are:
We provide extensive guidance on each of these topics based on research and can offer practical examples of how others have used technology to address specific challenges.
The range of available technologies presents almost limitless opportunities to embed technology within the curriculum. The purpose and pedagogical intent must be clear, the application relevant and authentic.
The case studies below and elsewhere in this guide show how providers are using technology to extend learning, engage and motivate learners, create collaborative learning experiences for learners working from different locations, provide opportunities for learners to practice and develop their skills, record achievements, fit learning around their work and other commitments and receive responsive support.
Some of the cases studies include examples of providers who are creating their own digital resources for learners. This can address gaps in content for specialist curricula and also offers a powerful, project-based approach to develop staff digital capabilities and engage staff in embedding digital activities within their practice.
However, there are also many ready-made digital resources that are available and designed to serve common curriculum needs. These include resources created by funded programmes and projects such as the Education and Training Foundation Learning Futures programme, open educational resources (OERs) - resources designed by their creators to be publicly shared, resources created by communities of practice or collaborative consortia such as the Blended Learning Consortium as well as those commercially produced. See further resources for a small selection of links to learner-focused digital resources.
The case studies below are just a few examples of effective practice. Our section deliver a relevant digital curriculum within the guide to enhancing the student digital experience: a strategic approach offers further guidance, links to resources and case study examples drawn from further and higher education.
Case study: Riverside Training
Riverside Training have introduced a series of webinars as part of their curriculum to deliver knowledge to apprentices studying customer service and management. The webinars cover the mandatory knowledge units of the level two and three qualifications.
A dedicated member of staff supports the delivery of a schedule of monthly sessions, which are repeated twice each month for the learners’ convenience. Group sizes vary from six to ten delegates. Each webinar is designed to be interactive and delegates receive pre-meeting activities, get involved with discussions and polls during the webinar and have post-webinar activities to complete for their portfolios. Read the case study in full.
Case study: Bradford College
Students studying for the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualifications and apprenticeships at Bradford College are using online video tutorials created by their tutor to ensure they are proficient in use of Excel spreadsheets.
With accompanying online practice activities, individual support and small-group tutorials the college is able to provide differentiated learning and is improving success rates, with some students completing their qualifications ahead of schedule. Read the case study in full.
Case study: The Royal Artillery Centre for Personal Development
The Royal Artillery Centre for Personal Development is developing a bespoke VLE and piloting online delivery of functional skills in English, maths and ICT to support apprentices who may have difficulty attending scheduled sessions for operational reasons and to provide cost-effective delivery and support for learners based in remote locations.
While it is too early to provide statistical data, early indications are that the learners enjoy the interactive activities, that teamwork and collaboration between staff has increased and that the model is cost effective. Read the case study in full.
Case study: S&B Automotive Academy
Our e-assessment survey report (pdf) published in May 2016 researched use of e-testing, technology-supported formative assessment, e-portfolios and tracking systems across the FE and skills sector.
From this, we know most FE and skills organisations are using technology in assessment on a day-to-day basis, but the impact is limited. Our blog post technology-enhanced assessment and feedback in further education and skills – how is the sector doing? discusses the main issues and signposts further guides and resources.
Case study: Nova Training
Nova Training use a bespoke e-portfolio system to help learners progress and take ownership of their learning. Learners found it difficult to understand the standards they were working towards and to identify key things like percentage progression and planned end dates.
The e-portfolio system has provided apprentices with direct access to relevant information, enhanced communication between apprentices and assessors and has improved quality and monitoring processes. Read the case study in full.
Case study: Prospect Training Services
Prospect Training Services (PTS) have developed the iObserve App which allows teachers, tutors, interviewers, coaches, assessors and learners to easily record and review practical activities, linking this evidence to mapped criteria (pre-set imported or created by user).
The timestamp facility allows users to identify the point at which candidates meet criteria and provide audio feedback. An accurate record is created without the need for note taking and report writing. The evidence can be saved and used to create a signed pdf declaration.
The app is making it easier for assessors and learners to provide auditable evidence of achievement, increasing accountability and saving time and money. Read the case study in full.
Case study: ISA Training
ISA Training based in south Wales is taking steps to upskill its staff and learners in digital literacies in order to make most effective use of technology in delivery and assessment of courses in hairdressing, beauty therapy and business management.
To increase the flexibility and efficiency of its provision, the company has adopted the Learning Assistant e-portfolio system. Read the case study in full.
Inclusive practice involves providing content that is accessible to as many people as possible, ensuring that a diverse range of students can use, access and contribute to it in a meaningful way.
Our guide to getting started with accessibility and inclusion provides an introduction to this topic while the section on deliver an inclusive digital student experience within the guide to enhancing the student digital experience: a strategic approach offers further guidance, links to resources and case study examples drawn from further and higher education.
Case study: Portland College
Snapshot: East London Advanced Technology Training (ELATT)
East London Advanced Technology Training (ELATT) use mobile technology to support female learners for whom English is not their first language. Smartphones are being used to overcome barriers such as personal access to computers outside class and to prevent social isolation as well as to develop language, digital literacy and employability skills.
The way you use technology can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your learners and to overcome areas that you identify as requiring improvement. You may wish to consider:
- What learners find difficult? Perhaps a particular topic or skill, continuing/reinforcing learning beyond taught sessions, or managing their own learning? Data, observation and discussions with learners can identify problem areas and also provide an opportunity for learners to contribute their own ideas on how technology could be used to solve these.
- Similarly, are there any common problems identified by staff that digital interventions could address?
- If you have online systems such as VLEs or e-portfolios you may wish to consider how effectively these are being used to support learning or how good practice can be amplified or further developed. Are the resources offered of a consistently high standard across all programmes of learning and if not, how best can this be addressed? How is technology used to support formative and summative assessment and feedback?
- Can technology help you to support differentiation and to make your curriculum offer, the learning experience you offer and your learning resources more accessible and inclusive?
- Can you identify any changes in approach using technology that would free up more time for group or one-to-one support?