As further education (FE) providers gear up to welcome learners back to campus on 8 March, they are encouraged to make use of an award-winning COVID-19 data modelling app.
Developed in 2020 by Petroc College, in partnership with the University of Exeter’s institute for data science and artificial intelligence, the tool means colleges can be proactive, rather than reactive, around COVID-19 outbreaks and changes in infection rates.
Unique to FE, the app was launched in early November 2020 with the support of the Association of Colleges, and City and Guilds. It has also just earned a ‘highly commended’ accolade in the Beacon Award category for best use of technology, sponsored by Jisc.
The app’s concept is simple: colleges enter information about their local community infection rates using figures obtained from the Office for National Statistics, and choices they could make about bubble sizes, social distancing measures, attendance rates on different days and timetabling over a set period of time.
The tool, available for free to all UK colleges, then shows likely infection and staff and learner self-isolation rates for each scenario.
More than 100 FE provides are already set up to use the app, and those wanting to sign up can do so by contacting Tammi Jahan (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the AoC.
The recorded webinar runs through a ‘how-to’ demonstration, followed by a question-and-answer session. There’s also a link showing how colleges can register to use the app.
Petroc College’s principal, Sean Mackney, says the app is easy to use:
“The app’s beauty lies in its simplicity and flexibility – you don’t need a degree in data modelling to be able to use it. Once you’re used to it, it takes about 10 mins to input the data for a scenario, and we use the results to respond quickly and change the college set up, if we need to.
“That could mean, for example, that if we know the number in self-isolation is likely to increase significantly, then we can invest more time, money and energy into improving and expanding our digital learning offer.
“The modelling enables us to strike the right balance between keeping our learners learning and the teachers teaching on campus and keeping them all safe.”
Colleges can find out more about the app and how to access it by contacting Tammi Jahan (email@example.com) at the AoC.