URL: string(3) "d2l"

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A way of opening higher education up to students who were disengaged from the traditional academic system, their goal was to increase diversity among young people choosing to continue with their studies. As degree apprentices do not pay tuition fees and also receive a basic salary, in theory they are open to all. At the same time, businesses were crying out for ‘workplace ready’ skills, complaining that graduates are often ill-equipped for a professional environment. With two equally compelling arguments it’s easy to see why the government sees degree apprenticeship schemes as a win-win for all. There are approximately 45 degree apprenticeships offered by UK universities currently, and that figure continues to rise. But the rollout of degree apprenticeships hasn’t been without its critics. An article in The Independent claims that a huge proportion of people applying for degree apprenticeships are from white, advantaged backgrounds. Quoting research from the Office for Students (OfS) for the academic year 2016/17, it suggests that only 13% of those taking up degree apprenticeship places were from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, and that 87% of apprentices supported by the Degree Apprenticeship Development Fund (DADF) were white. This is clearly at odds with the original thinking behind their introduction.
While degree apprenticeships are seen as a route to securing a career path while gaining life skills – but without incurring huge debts – they can also be a daunting prospect as students are essentially juggling an academic and a professional life.
And while degree apprenticeships are seen as a route to securing a career path while gaining life skills – but without incurring huge debts – they can also be a daunting prospect as students are essentially juggling an academic and a professional life. For some, there’s a perception that degree apprenticeships are harder than studying for a degree in isolation, as students split their time between the place of learning and the workplace. Understanding how and what students need to learn, how their progress is monitored and how they can benefit from a seamless learning and working experience can be a challenge. This is where technology is helping to bridge the gap between the learning institution, the workplace and the student, ensuring that all parties feel connected and supported throughout the process.

Supporting the learner

As digital natives, today’s students expect a platform that completely supports their personal learning journey – from providing the materials and resources they need to complete assignments, to receiving ongoing feedback and having the facility to build a digital portfolio of work that will help them secure a job. With degree apprenticeships this also means being able to track progress both academically and professionally.
As digital natives, today’s students expect a platform that completely supports their personal learning journey.
Next-generation virtual learning environments (VLEs) provide a space for collaboration as well as supporting learning and ensuring that students feel part of university life. For students who split their time between university and their place of employment, these platforms enable them to feel as secure in their remote learning as they would in a classroom. They also provide vital and open lines of communication between the learner, the tutor and the employer.

Engaging the employer

Employers have, for some time, complained that students are leaving university without the right skills for the workplace. The 2018 Job Outlook Survey produced by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, for example, claims that 89.4% of students believe they are proficient enough in their professionalism and work ethic to enter the workplace, whereas only 42.5% of employers agree. Skills are not just limited to the highly vocational careers of nursing, accountancy or software engineering either, but also those looking to pursue careers in digital, business and finance. Companies ranging from Warburtons to the BBC and BAE Systems have all launched degree apprenticeship programmes, prompted by the Apprenticeship Levy which requires all companies with a payroll of more than £3m to pledge 0.5% of their payroll costs to apprenticeship training. Mainly, they have been well received by employers.
Until degree apprenticeships become part of the DNA of an organisation’s training and recruitment strategy, work needs to be done to build relationships between the employer and the learning institution.
Until degree apprenticeships become part of the DNA of an organisation’s training and recruitment strategy however, work needs to be done to build relationships between the employer and the learning institution. The two have different ways of communicating, learning and reporting, but consistency is vital in order to benefit the apprentice. VLE platforms that have been built with both educational institutions and corporates in mind can enable this consistency. They make it easy for employers to be hands-on in monitoring the progress of their apprentices both on their courses and in the workplace. All tasks and assignments are captured within the platform and employers can see how much apprentices are engaging with their academic studies. They can also provide feedback on workplace progress directly to the apprentice and to tutors, flagging issues so they can be dealt with quickly by all three parties. Lastly, capturing this information means apprentices are automatically provided with evidence of learning and progress.

Empowering the learning institution

For teaching staff, the dual aspect of a degree apprenticeship also brings challenges. Many have used technology to deliver courses to students opting for distance or part-time learning. But with degree apprenticeships, there is also the added dimension of reporting back on progress to an employer. In many ways, the success of degree apprenticeship courses hinge on the quality of the relationship between tutor and employer. Their ability to communicate effectively has a huge impact on the apprentice.
In many ways, the success of degree apprenticeship courses hinge on the quality of the relationship between tutor and employer.
Technology can make this easy. By using a VLE, personal tutors can manage the tripartite relationship between themselves, their student and the employer via one platform. This can be done through assessments, continuous engagement, including video feedback, and monitoring and reporting on engagement levels – and by developing an understanding of the needs of the employer from the outset. All three parties can collaborate via the VLE to help the apprentice build the best possible e-portfolio of evidence-based work which can be used as they enter the workplace full-time. In return, tutors have visibility over what is happening outside of the learning environment, receiving direct feedback from the employer and using that to inform and adapt how they support each student’s journey. Having one VLE platform that can accommodate every type of learner journey, from traditional degrees to part-time, distance learning or graduate apprenticeships, is hugely efficient for the institution in terms of procurement and for the course leaders for usability. For more information, visit https://www.d2l.com/en-eu/

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Join us for a 1 hour special as we discuss how Next Generation Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) can provide a space for collaboration as well as supporting learning and ensuring that students feel part of university life. [post_title] => How VLE technology can help realise the full potential of degree apprenticeships [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => how-modern-vle-technology-can-help-realise-the-full-potential-of-degree-apprenticeships [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-11-26 15:58:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-11-26 15:58:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=articles&p=19670 [menu_order] => 391 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 19443 [post_author] => 57 [post_date] => 2019-11-14 07:35:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-11-14 07:35:33 [post_content] => The University of Suffolk is a transformational university, absorbing the best of UK university traditions and aligning them with a 21st-century audience and a modern world of employment and entrepreneurship. It is a thriving academic community which makes a clear and immediate impact. Its national and international influence through research and innovation brings recognition and opportunity to the region and supports regional growth and development. Its purpose is to change the lives of individuals and communities for the better.

The challenge

Suffolk is a large, rural, coastal county with below-average numbers entering higher education. The original mission of the University of Suffolk was to encourage more people from across the county to continue with their studies. One way of doing this has been through building relationships with businesses and the local community to identify skills gaps and potential opportunities for collaboration – fuelling the adoption of vocational courses and producing more ‘work-ready’ candidates to boost the local economy. These collaborations with organisations outside of the traditional academic environment prompted the University of Suffolk to review its existing virtual learning environment (VLE) provider. The need to maintain a close relationship with students who are working remotely as well as with businesses that have different working methods and requirements, meant that the university needed a solution that could facilitate a blended learning approach. Ellen Buck, director of learning and teaching at the University of Suffolk, explains: “We needed to reach people that were out in the field learning but were also still very much part of our university life. To achieve this, we sought a partner that understood the nuances of modern learning and could support our efforts to provide a more personalised learning experience.”
We needed to reach people that were out in the field learning but were also still very much part of our university life. – Ellen Buck, University of Suffolk
As well as supporting learning, Buck and her team required a platform that could also be used to enhance staff development: “We wanted a platform that could be used as a continuous personal development (CPD) hub. Whether training is being delivered by IT, HR or elsewhere, the solution needed to bring departments together to create an individual learning and development resource.”

The solution

A panel comprising members of the student body, support staff and tutors was brought into the process to make a collaborative decision on the new provider. The panel was invited to complete tasks within each shortlisted platform that they would normally carry out in their existing roles, as well as considering how the solution could support future learning. The platforms were then scored against specific criteria, with the user experience counting for 40% of the overall weighting. According to the university, D2L’s Brightspace platform won across the board for its pedagogical and technical functionality, usability and the ability to evolve with the needs of the university. The Brightspace platform went live at the University of Suffolk in August 2018. The university developed its degree apprenticeship content in parallel with the implementation process. “This meant we were learning about the processes that Brightspace uses for content creation and working with D2L’s Creative Services Team to design templates and structures at the same time as rolling out our degree apprenticeship courses. This had its challenges, but it helped us to understand the capabilities of the platform,” adds Buck. Training sessions were run with course teams and administrators to ensure they understood the platform’s essential functionality. The next phase was to offer ‘uplift’ services to support course teams in making full use of the system and to help them recognise its potential as a tool for learning delivery, rather than simply as a repository for course materials. [caption id="attachment_19448" align="alignnone" width="790"]D2L-Brisghtspace-app-University-of-Suffolk The Brightspace platform went live at the University of Suffolk in August 2018[/caption]

The results

The Brightspace platform has enabled the University of Suffolk to redefine its pedagogical practices, breaking down barriers and creating one big community, both within the university and more widely. Learning environments have been connected in a way that they never could be previously, with bridges being built between learning, teaching and research. Students feel supported in their learning wherever they are, from reading notes on the go to working on assignments while at their place of work. Employers can see how their student placements are progressing academically as well as in the workplace and can feed back directly within the platform. Tutors can liaise freely with both students and employers – sharing information on engagement and performance levels and taking remedial action at the first sign of any issues. “This isn’t just about connecting learning spaces, it’s about connecting people”, adds Buck. “For example, Brightspace supports the learning tripartite relationship within an NHS Trust as part of our BSc (Hons) nursing (degree apprenticeship) – the personal tutor, the student and the practice educator/employer can all meet together and evaluate progress using the online learning environment as the foundation for that discussion.”

What’s next?

Buck believes the University of Suffolk can derive even more value from Brightspace, with scope to build in new structures that ensure everyone associated with the university can make use of the platform. The team are currently undergoing training on one of Brightspace’s Performance Plus tools – Insights – to gain even greater visibility into patterns of learner behaviour.
We know we can glean even more from Brightspace as we continue to delve into the analytics. – Ellen Buck, University of Suffolk
For example, initial analysis has shown that engagement levels with course materials that support degree apprenticeship programmes are particularly high. On one module of its BSc nursing degree, students are viewing an average of eight pages of content and reading it for an average of 24 hours. For the same module on the degree apprenticeship course, students are viewing an average of 30 pages for an average of 52 hours. Insight suggests that these students are completing more work more efficiently, so the university is examining how the purposeful use of instructionally designed content within the degree apprenticeship course is easier to consume. “We acknowledge that while this programme has been designed for online, the other has not. There are still lessons and good practice that we can learn and roll out across more programmes. “We have built specific templates and checklists within Brightspace for our degree apprenticeship courses. Students are required to confirm they have read the content within the platform. We can clearly see that this outcomes-based approach to learning is working, with students reading three times as much content and spending twice as much time on it than their traditional degree student counterparts. “We know we can glean even more from Brightspace as we continue to delve into the analytics” Buck concludes. “We have built a true partnership with D2L, and we believe that with Brightspace we have the foundation on which we can build the best possible learning journey for all.” Ellen Buck, together with other University of Suffolk representatives, will be sharing the experience live on the Education Technology webinar on 4 December. For more information, please visit https://www.d2l.com

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Join us for a 1 hour special as we discuss how Next Generation Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) can provide a space for collaboration as well as supporting learning and ensuring that students feel part of university life. [post_title] => Connecting students, staff and employers with Brightspace [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => connecting-students-staff-and-employers-with-brightspace [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-11-26 16:00:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-11-26 16:00:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=blog&p=19443 [menu_order] => 407 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 18252 [post_author] => 57 [post_date] => 2019-09-24 09:00:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-09-24 08:00:24 [post_content] => Research released today by VLE provider D2L shows that 91% of university lecturers are in favour of learning technologies as tools for student engagement. The research surveyed over 500 UK-based lecturers in HE, asking about attitudes towards the use of technology in education.

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Eighty per cent of respondents agreed that increased technology options would have a positive effect on the education system, and half of those asked (50%) stated that tech could alleviate administrative pressure. Elliot Gowans, senior vice president, international, at D2L, said: “This research indicated that lecturers recognise the positive impact technology can have on student engagement and the role it can play in relieving workplace stresses, but there are still a number of barriers preventing technology being used to its full potential.” The research also covered edtech adoption rates, barriers preventing greater adoption rates, and current pain points suffered by university lecturers when using existing technology.
This research indicated that lecturers recognise the positive impact technology can have on student engagement and the role it can play in relieving workplace stresses, but there are still a number of barriers preventing technology being used to its full potential. – Elliot Gowans, D2L
Ninety-one per cent of lecturers surveyed have access to an LMS, but only 56% use it regularly. Of those that do use the LMS regularly, 75% use it to share course materials, whereas only 36% use gamification to engage with students. Gowans continued: “While the majority of lecturers use rudimentary means of implementing technology in their teaching practices, such as communicating with students electronically and sharing course materials online, a far smaller proportion utilise more sophisticated technology-enabled teaching methods, such as automated plagiarism detection and gamification.”
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In terms of pain points, 50% of lecturers said students are demanding greater availability of course materials online, with 44% wanting more online and remote working opportunities and 42% wanting more detailed feedback. Despite the 91% of lecturers that acknowledged technology’s place in addressing many of these issues, nearly half (47%) feel that more training and support for the educators themselves is needed to be able to fully utilise technology in the classroom. “If education technology is going to have the positive impact that industry, higher education institutions and lecturers all believe it can, there needs to be a greater emphasis placed on supporting lecturers in using it to its utmost,” said Gowans.  

Join the Live Webinar

Join us for a 1 hour special as we discuss how Next Generation Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) can provide a space for collaboration as well as supporting learning and ensuring that students feel part of university life. [post_title] => ‘Tech increases student engagement’ say 91% of uni lecturers [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => tech-increases-student-engagement-say-91-of-uni-lecturers [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-11-26 15:51:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-11-26 15:51:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=articles&p=18252 [menu_order] => 529 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13808 [post_author] => 77 [post_date] => 2019-03-11 00:00:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-11 00:00:22 [post_content] => Jeremy Auger is chief strategy officer at D2L virtual learning environments (Canada) Q. What does your country’s edtech strategy look like currently? Is the adoption of edtech where you would like it to be, or is more progress needed?  In Canada, we don’t have a federal agency responsible for education or edtech. Instead, jurisdiction for education falls to the provinces, with each province taking a different approach. For higher education, decisions around edtech are largely made at the institutional level and would depend on the specific institution’s needs and strategy. So, unlike in some other countries, there are no larger ‘systems’ making decisions collectively.  For schools, meanwhile, technology adoption tends to be very piecemeal. Often, teachers are using toolsets chosen at the classroom level, with limited consistency across schools or school boards. This creates big challenges around data, training and networking, and ultimately limits the potential for a consistent experience for students across classes. Q. What one initiative or development really helped things move fast where you are? An initiative that stands out in Canada is the model implemented in Ontario: Technology Enabled Learning Ontario (TELO). Involving 76 school boards, this model supports and enables the use of technology throughout the province. By using the same technology, these schools are able to collaborate more effectively, as well as sharing licensing, training, and content aligned to the provincial curriculum.  This economy of scale is helping to drive the adoption and success of blended and virtual learning in these institutions – and removes the very real cost barrier faced by so many small schools. The opportunity for school boards to opt into a provincially funded innovation model has gone a long way towards removing major barriers to technology access, both inside and outside the classroom. Q. Which innovations have proved most popular in schools and universities in your country? Learning Management Systems (LMS) are proving to be very popular and extremely successful in Canadian schools and universities. This isn’t surprising, given that this online platform enables the use of digital content, improves teacher-parent communication, and provides access to e-portfolios that allows for more ongoing assessment and increased collaboration in the learning environment. Furthermore, these LMS’ advanced analytics and early warning systems provide teachers with valuable insight into student performance and engagement. This, in turn, helps teachers to make better use of their time and improves overall communication and outcomes. [post_title] => Roundtable: Six degrees of separation – Jeremy Auger [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => roundtable-six-degrees-of-separation-jeremy-auger [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-08-01 10:42:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-08-01 09:42:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=articles&p=13808 [menu_order] => 977 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13623 [post_author] => 74 [post_date] => 2019-03-06 12:31:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-06 12:31:06 [post_content] => Continuing professional development (CPD) is important in all careers, and education is no exception. Teaching staff are under pressure to keep their knowledge fresh and up-to-date, and this is not only when it comes to the latest developments in their own subject area(s), but also skills areas essential to the teaching role. The need to keep up with technology – so prevalent in all professions now – is also a part of this. Technology changes all the time and teachers, tutors and administrators are often called upon to learn new systems, platforms and applications. Most people would agree that training is a good thing. Across industry sectors and types, employees generally value the chance to gain new skills that will help them progress in their careers. Indeed, for many this is a key determining factor in accepting a role. Providing the opportunity to undertake CPD in the workplace is therefore important but for the learner, factoring ongoing learning into an already packed schedule can be a challenge. If CPD isn’t well organised, simple to undertake and engaging to do, it may very well get sacrificed in favour of the other many activities that clamour for time and attention in busy schedules. An efficient and effective way of providing CPD is therefore essential if teachers and other staff are to successfully incorporate it into their professional lives.

Extending the VLE to deliver CPD

This is where the virtual learning environment (VLE) comes in. Now widely used by students and teachers to access assessments, course materials, provide grading and feedback and interact through, it can also be used to organise and manage professional learning, providing access to CPD material as well as a platform for tracking CPD progress. By using the same environment for their own CPD that students use in their courses, teaching staff are able to get first-hand experience of the tool from the learner perspective. This is useful for teachers and tutors to build on their own understanding of the teaching tool, and to help them support their students.
By using the same environment for their own CPD that students use in their courses, teaching staff are able to get first-hand experience of the tool from the learner perspective.
Being online, the VLE can be a convenient way of undertaking training, as it puts scheduling in the hands of the learner, who can tap into it at times and locations that suit them, from a range of devices including mobile. It’s also interactive, supporting videos and discussions. This can encourage peers to collaborate, provide feedback and share best practice. It’s a flexible approach that supports learners in practising and demonstrating knowledge they’ve gained, as well as receiving feedback which can be via a range of formats such as text or video.

A centralised view of staff development

For administrators and senior staff, a single platform for staff CPD can provide a convenient, fully centralised view of employee development within the institution as a whole. They can automatically assign learning programmes according to pre-set attributes (such as by department or according to level achieved within the organisation). The ability to view CPD progress, and to look at the data in a range of different ways, gives a clear picture of the current level of skills attainment against the institution’s aims and objectives for people development, as well as insight into future scheduled training. Ongoing learning, and continuing development, is a fact of professional life, but it can be something that is challenging to find time to do in the busy world of education. By providing a user-friendly, flexible platform for organising CPD, educational institutions can support teachers and other staff members in achieving their own career goals, while improving standards within the organisation and increasing staff engagement. By Elliot Gowans, D2L [post_title] => How technology can help deliver CPD in education [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => how-technology-can-help-deliver-cpd-in-education [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-07 09:54:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-07 09:54:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=blog&p=13623 [menu_order] => 1003 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13405 [post_author] => 74 [post_date] => 2019-02-20 15:12:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-02-20 15:12:04 [post_content] => In 2016, the University of Huddersfield decided to review their current VLE provider, after they discovered alternative VLE solutions that would potentially meet their needs better. They wanted to move away from something that felt like a content repository, to an active online learning environment where staff and students could engage with content more easily, and they decided to go out to tender.

The challenge

Requirements Given the cost and time factor of implementing a new VLE at the university, they considered longevity as a key requirement, as they wanted to have the new VLE provider in place for at least the next 10–15 years. “We were looking for a company that we could work in partnership with, someone who would help to drive the project forward and listen to what we had to say and not just accept that what they thought was best – we wanted to build a two-way relationship instead,” said Dr Sue Folley, academic development advisor. In addition they also considered functionality and usability, as they wanted a system that would be easy for both staff and students to use, and mobile responsiveness was also of vital importance. As Dr Daniel Belton, university teaching fellow, explained: “Lots of students use their mobile phones as part of their learning experience. The feedback on our previous VLE was that it was not easy to access on mobiles or tablets, and so it was really important for us to ensure that our new provider would be easy to access in this way.” The tender process Three VLE providers took part in the universiy’s tender process, and staff conducted a series of usability tests for academic staff and students in order to establish how easy each platform was to use. They also used a scoring system to check against their 2,000 requirements, and as a result D2L’s Brightspace system came out on top for functionality and in all but one usability test.

The solution

Small scale implementation The university started working with D2L in August 2017, and they launched a small-scale implementation for four courses. As part of this, they wanted to test functionality and usability, and also make any changes in advance of rolling it out across the whole university. Bringing Brightspace to life The full roll-out of the Brightspace platform took place in September 2018, and Daniel Belton was really impressed with the responsiveness and support that D2L has provided. He said: “We’ve had lots of support from the Brightspace team, and it’s been good to have their expertise on hand.” Staff training As part of the Brightspace platform roll-out, the university was keen to ensure that staff used the VLE more effectively. Furthermore, as their 1,000 academic staff will also use it in different ways, they also wanted to ensure that their usage was pedagogy-led, and they decided to invite academics to apply to take part in three retreats organised by the university and supported by the D2L customer success manager.

The result

User feedback The University of Huddersfield has not done any formal evaluation of the implementation of Brightspace by D2L as yet, but Sue Folley and Daniel Belton both agree that the initial response from staff seems to be largely positive. Looking ahead What’s next for the University of Huddersfield and the Brightspace platform? Daniel Belton is keen to run more retreats for staff as they have been so well received, and Sue Folley wants to encourage people to move past using just the basic content, and explore what else the Brightspace platform offers. In addition, the university is also in contact with other universities who are starting to use the Brightspace platform in order to share their experience and knowledge. Learn more about how Brightspace can help your institute here: D2L.com [post_title] => How the University of Huddersfield has been using D2L’s Brightspace platform [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => how-the-university-of-huddersfield-has-been-using-d2ls-brightspace-platform [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-02-21 16:03:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-02-21 16:03:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=articles&p=13405 [menu_order] => 1036 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13412 [post_author] => 74 [post_date] => 2019-02-20 15:09:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-02-20 15:09:18 [post_content] => VLEs have come a long way over the past few years, developing from rudimentary systems for distribution of course materials into truly interactive and impactful systems for learning. As the technology has developed, and the feature sets expanded, VLEs are now better equipped for true blended learning. VLEs are now much better at engaging students and equipping them with the skills needed for the 21st century job market. One of the key benefits of VLEs is that they extend learning to everyone, regardless of situation or level. Traditional teaching methods are inherently narrow, requiring face-to-face contact with teachers in a group setting. VLEs enable remote learning and flexible pedagogical models that facilitate learning at the right time and place. This benefits students whose personal circumstances may make class attendance difficult, as well as those who are better suited to non-traditional teaching methods. From a teaching standpoint, the development and improvement of tools that support personalisation, such as conditional release conditions, enable flexible learning paths to be created. Teachers can tailor content based on students’ individual needs easily, prescribing learning materials based on their proficiency. Technology will never replace the human-element of teaching, but as VLEs develop, I see them becoming ever more central to the teaching process. The stresses and pressures faced by teachers today are well documented, and as VLEs continue to develop, I envision them increasingly lightening this load, by facilitating more efficient and engaging learning environments for both teachers and students. www.D2L.com [post_title] => VLEs enable more flexibility than 'narrow' traditional methods [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => vles-enable-more-flexibility-than-narrow-traditional-methods [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-08-01 10:46:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-08-01 09:46:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=blog&p=13412 [menu_order] => 1037 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6993 [post_author] => 63 [post_date] => 2018-12-02 00:00:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-12-02 00:00:05 [post_content] => There are a multitude of reasons why a student might choose to end their studies early: some may feel unengaged by the course or unnoticed by their teachers, some may struggle with workload and reason that they’re not up to the task, whilst others might have personal or family issues which make course attendance seem untenable. Whatever the reasons may be, higher education institutions have a commitment - and financial interest - in keeping students engaged and happy, particularly through the earliest portions of their courses. Worrying statistics released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in March 2018 show that universities are struggling to achieve this. 26,000 students in England who began studying for their first degree in 2015 did not make it beyond their first year; this is the third year in a row where the dropout figure has risen. If higher education institutions are to nip this problem in the bud, something clearly needs to change. I believe that using technology in a manner that has already been adopted by the corporate world can help universities offer the engagement, flexibility and support students may need to discourage them from abandoning their studies.

Expectation and engagement

The life of the average person in their late teens or early twenties is more closely entwined with technology than someone just 10 years their senior. This is the generation which grew up alongside the smartphone, broadband and social media, and its members rely on - and expect - technology to be a central component in managing all aspects of their life. Why, then, would we expect them to feel differently when it comes to their education? In many ways, higher education has to take a note from the business world. Businesses are looking to engage with younger consumers with personalised offers and interactive experiences, often leveraging videos and gamification to build interest. A learning platform that uses similar techniques and personalises learning so that it speaks to students as individuals and adapts to their needs, whilst simultaneously providing structured learning pathways, can deliver on these expectations and increase engagement. Used in conjunction with more traditional teaching methods, this blended approach is far more likely to resonate with students and ensure they stay the course.
With the added insight, flexibility and personalisation that education technology platforms can now provide, we should be seeing dropout rates reduce, not climb.

Providing flexibility

Reasons for a student leaving their course can extend further than a lack of engagement with the materials, of course. One of the greatest triumphs of the modern university system is that it has provided greater opportunity for young people from a range of backgrounds and situations, rather than the privileged elite. That said, for students who might live in locations remote from campus, or have dependents who command a great deal of their time, or have an illness or disability, attending lectures can prove stressful or difficult. In this regard, higher education needs to learn another lesson from the world of corporate work, where flexible working options - powered by mobile technology - have created a working environment no longer married to the nine-to-five timetable. Mobile-enabled content can be ideal as it provides students access to course content and updates wherever they are, and across devices, whether at campus or at home. This can relieve the burden for those students whose personal situation might prohibit them from sticking to a traditionally strict course schedule.

Identifying at-risk students through analytics

Much as businesses have used advanced data analytics to deliver a more holistic view of their performance, and highlight areas of concern, the same technology can help tutors and administrators. Whilst the personal, hands-on approach to supporting struggling students is, of course, the preferred method, oftentimes tutors may not be aware of the severity of a situation until too late in the process. Student performance metrics, used in conjunction with predictive analytics, can raise potential red flags sooner rather than later, and provide the impetus for intervention. Technology will never replace or supersede a human support structure, but data analytics can help identify at-risk students, create a portrait of an individual student’s situation, and provide enough insight for university staff to tailor a support structure that fits the individual best. Ultimately, universities want to provide students with engaging course material and an environment that promotes success. With the added insight, flexibility and personalisation that education technology platforms can now provide, we should be seeing dropout rates reduce, not climb. If a university is seeing a rise in dropout rates I’d urge them to consider a new approach to course delivery that blends traditional methods with the latest technologies. W: D2L [post_title] => Using tech to go the distance [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => using-tech-to-go-the-distance [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-08-01 10:46:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-08-01 09:46:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://edtechnology.co.uk/dashboard2/?post_type=blog&p=6993 [menu_order] => 1198 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 316 [post_author] => 23 [post_date] => 2018-08-30 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-08-29 22:00:00 [post_content] =>

We’re very pleased to announce details of the superb panel that will be participating in D2L’s webinar on ‘How VLE Technology Has Delivered Strategic Success at Suffolk and Huddersfield Universities’.

Representing University of Huddersfield will be Andy Raistrick, Business Analyst and Project Manager, Learning Technologies.

Representing University of Suffolk will be Ellen Buck, Head of Learning Services.

For bios and chosen discussion points please read on. To register to view the webinar please click here.

University of Suffolk – Ellen Buck, BA, MA, SFHEA – Head of Learning Services

Bio:

 

In the last year she has project-managed the creating of new blended learning degree apprenticeships and International Foundation programmes, as well as the procurement and implementation of the new online learning environment, Brightspace. As Project Manager for the development of 3 new blended degree apprenticeships at the university, Ellen has been working with colleagues to design the academic experience for the apprentices joining the university, ensuring that learning is truly delivered in a way that fosters interaction with the university community and supports those learning in their working environments.

Discussion Points in Webinar

The value of modern VLE technology in delivering apprenticeships:

Harnessing the power of mobile technology, learning analytics and more to support the delivery of flexible, engaging degree apprenticeships that attract the 21st century learner.

Brightspace is currently being developed for students taking part in the university’s new blended learning degree apprenticeship programmes in nursing, social worker and Police constabulary. It will then be implemented across the entire university. 

We were recently awarded Hefce (Higher Education Funding Council for England) funding that enabled us to develop three degree-apprenticeship schemes in response to local need.

These students are often working remotely, therefore require a mobile, adaptable learning platform that enables them to work around their employment. Brightspace is fantastic as it supports a blended learning approach, which gives our students the flexibility to learn wherever and whenever they need to. Whilst other learning platforms we tested were restrictive, Brightspace enables us to teach how we want to teach, and our students to learn how they want to learn. D2L has been a breath of fresh air to work with and we look forward to continuing our relationship.

University of Huddersfield – Andy Raistrick BSc(Hons), MSc, CMALT – Business Analyst and Project Manager, Learning Technologies

Bio:

Andy has worked in learning technologies for 9 years after spending the early part of his career working in the commercial sector providing consultancy and project management to various blue-chip organisations.

He has been instrumental in the increased adoption of learning technologies at the University of Huddersfield, developing and delivering a range of staff development courses and promoting the use of technology to enhance pedagogical practice across the institution. His technical background, coupled with project management skills and understanding of pedagogy, allows him to communicate effectively with technical, administrative and academic staff. In 2017, he undertook a project to analyse the learning technology business requirements of the university, and subsequently project-managed the procurement and implementation of our new VLE, Brightspace.

Discussion Points in Webinar

The University of Huddersfield is recognised for its quality of teaching. Not only have we been awarded Gold in the TEF, but we have also received the Global Teaching Excellence Award from the HEA and are ranked No 1 in England for qualified teaching staff.

The university is committed to not just maintaining this standard but improving upon it. By implementing Brightspace we intend to transform our online teaching. We are rapidly moving from an online, passive content repository to a truly collaborative, interactive online learning experience. At the same time, a combination of some of the new affordances of Brightspace, coupled with changes in internal processes will allow us to reduce administration and use learning analytics to improve retention and attainment.

Alongside functionality, usability was a key factor in our selection of Brightspace, and we are hopeful that we can leverage this usability to increase engagement of both academic staff and students alike.

To register to view the webinar please click here.

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For many students in further and higher education it can be a challenge to attend a study programme in person. Both travel and time can be an issue, particularly for adult learners juggling family and work commitments alongside their study. The cost of education can also be a barrier. In these situations, fully online courses can offer a valuable alternative. 

For educational institutions working to maintain enrolment numbers while facing budget pressures of their own, online courses can also be a viable option. In the UK there are now around 380,000 students enrolled in distance education and over 70% of these are undergraduate students.

With the rise of technology-based learning, it’s of little surprise that a 2017 Navitas Ventures study found that at least 50% of respondents expect the traditional university model to be disrupted by 2025, with nine out of ten university leaders expecting disruption by 2030.   

Fully online courses can make learning attainable 

Online learning offers an appealing level of flexibility as educators and students increasingly recognise that when it comes to learning, one size often doesn’t always fit all. Students will often devote differing amounts of time to a topic to fully understand it. This stands to reason – after all, we all learn in different ways and at different rates. Adult learners in particular will hold a wide range of pre-existing knowledge and skills from earlier studies and work experience and will bring this to their studies. This is a strength that adaptable online courses can help students capitalise upon. 

Through a learning platform, progress can be at the students’ own pace. This not only maximises chances of success, it also helps learners stay motivated and engaged. It’s all about personalising learning – shaping the programme around the student rather than the student around the programme.

Optimising online courses for student success

Fully online courses can bring down barriers to learning, but for them to be successful, educators and administrators must also recognise the unique challenges that distance learning poses.   

With a centralised place of learning removed in lieu of one that exists online, many motivating and supportive aspects of the bricks and mortar establishment also risk being lost. The most obvious of these is that students are working on their own – they don’t come together in groups or have face time with tutors. 

Peer groups can be highly influential when it comes to maintaining learner motivation. Tutor-student interaction is also central to creating a supportive, successful learning environment. The good news is that nowadays, these things can still be a part of the equation when it comes to distance and online learning with the right technology in place.

A learning platform can provide a range of features, including online discussion boards and live video interactions to help create an in-classroom experience and support students as they progress through their courses. Feedback by video can prove useful for both student and tutor; in the absence of in-person conversations, it can help provide personalised, descriptive assessment of coursework.

From an economic perspective, distance learning creates a new revenue stream for educational institutions, whose costs subsequently shift from supporting a physical infrastructure to providing tutoring and coaching at distance. It can, however, require a shift in mindset around the instructor/learner dynamic and as with any change, this must be managed carefully. Particular focus should be paid to maintaining students’ learning momentum, motivation and self-discipline. 

While there are clear benefits to be seen, educational institutions must take steps to ensure online distance learning will work for both learners and educators. In particular, attention should be paid to their choice of learning platform and ensuring that they make full use of the tools within them. In doing so, more institutions can diversify their offering and move a step closer to creating the right learning environment for each and every student.  

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By Elliot Gowans, Vice President EMEA at D2L

Selecting a learning platform is a big decision. You want to be sure the choice you make will meet the needs of your learners, administrators and instructors, now and in the future. To help you focus in on your requirements, here’s a list of questions to consider:

1.       How quickly and easily can I build courses?

Course creation and management is where most of your instructors’ time is concentrated, so it has to be quick and easy and this is where ‘drag-and-drop’ functionality helps. Being able to drag-and-drop files directly from your desktop or favourite online tool into course content areas is the quickest and most convenient way to build course modules. With a platform that fully supports drag and drop you can add multiple pieces of content quickly, as well as simply rearrange course material between modules if necessary. You can also copy and paste content to where you need it. 

2.       What’s the mobile experience like?

The way we learn is changing. Learning is no longer limited to specific times and places. We learn where we are – sometimes in a place of learning, sometimes at work, sometimes at home. People expect to be able to take their learning with them. They also want the same experience regardless of which device they’re using, and to be able to seamlessly pick up from where they left off with access to full functionality whether they’re on a PC, tablet or smart phone. Many learning platforms have an app, but does it provide the same experience? What’s the experience like for students with devices not supported by the app? Look out for responsive web design as it adapts layout according to the device’s screen so that the entire learning environment can be accessed from any browser, including mobile.

3.       Can I get help building courses and transitioning to an online way of learning?
You might need some help getting to grips with creating courses that are going to engage your learners. You might want support in getting the most out of the tools a digital platform can provide – such as gamification – to enhance your courses. Change is a big thing, not just for learners but for administrators and decision makers too, so consider how your platform provider might help you with goal-setting and strategy, managing change, stakeholder engagement, and marketing and communicating your new platform to users.

4.       How accessible is it?
The learning platform must meet the needs of students with accessibility requirements so look for features that include speech-to-text and text-to-speech. With these tools, students can concentrate on their studies without needing to manage adjustments themselves. 

5.       Can media and documents be viewed in line on any device?

You probably have a range of document types in your course content and you want learners to be able to view them whether they’re on a PC or accessing through an app without continually being sent out to separate document viewers. It’s important, therefore, that you have support for all major document formats and reliable document viewing at the platform level. 

6.       Can I release activities based on student progress, results and behaviours?

To help learners progress through a range of modules you might want to set your course up to release activities based on when they complete or do not complete things. This ensures that learners are guided through their learning journey on the platform and establishes a unique and personal experience for each learner based on their actions and needs. 

7.       Can I schedule communications to learners through the platform?

Scheduled communications can be a real time-saver. You might want to create a welcome message for new learners joining a course, re-engage inactive or struggling learners, or send congratulations for achieving a target. Make sure that the platform you choose enables you to create these messages once, set the rules for them and automatically send them when triggered. 

8.       What insight will it give me into learner progress?

Analytics are a great benefit of digital-based learning. Being able to track, measure and report on learner progress, as well as spot any indications that individuals or groups are falling behind can be the difference between meeting and missing learning targets and improving learning outcomes. Simple progress dashboards and data exports help administrators facilitate data-driven action and improvement while ‘differential’ datasets make it easy to focus on only data that has changed.

9.       How will I get access to platform updates?

A learning platform, like all IT solutions, must evolve. When this happens, you want updates to be delivered simply and in a timely way. This can be achieved through continuous delivery which means you won’t have to manage a manual update process. It’s important to include the cost of staff time when evaluating a learning solution – if management and maintenance of the platform is time-intensive this could be significant.  

10.   Will it support a competency-based education (CBE) approach?

Competency-based education (CBE) recognises that, within a given timeframe for a period of study, learners will progress at different rates. It is tipped by many to be the future of education. Some learners will need to spend more time on particular topics than others, and they might even need to supplement course material with other sources of information to fill gaps in their knowledge. If your course adopts an innovative CBE approach you’ll need a flexible, outcomes-based learning platform with built-in logic that facilitates learners moving onto a new topic only once they’ve mastered the preceding one. 

11.   How secure is it?

Security is all-important to prevent unauthorised access and to protect student data. Look out for certification, such as ISO27001 and ISO27018 for peace of mind that the platform you choose has been developed and is maintained according to strict security protocols. 

12.   What support will I get?

A dedicated customer contact point provides reassurance that help is there if you need it and that you’ll get the most out of the platform by being able to consult with experts once you’re up-and-running. This level of support means you’ll be able to keep your staff focused on the jobs they’re there to do, rather than having them take on the burden of supporting the learning platform.

To discover more visit D2L here

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D2L, a global learning technology leader, has announced the results of research into the UK’s workplace learning landscape, employees’ learning preferences, and the role of technology in the learning experience. 

The company conducted two surveys of 100 UK HR directors and 1,000 UK employees, which revealed that 97% of organisations believe their employees’ learning and development (L&D) is important, yet only 82% have a formal learning programme in place. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority (77%) of employees believe workplace learning is important to their continued professional development (CPD), with 37% claiming a lack of training had negatively impacted their career. Furthermore, 38% of employees state they would consider the quality of employee training when offered a job. 

Recognise the importance of L&D technology

The survey also revealed that employees’ and HR directors’ expectations of L&D programmes do not correspond. Key findings included:

  • 78% of employees believe it is important that their organisation is leveraging new technologies for learning, yet only 15% of HR directors agree.
  • Half (50%) of UK organisations are failing to utilise tools such as video for employee coaching in their learning programmes, even though 68% of employees think this is valuable.
  • 60% of employees believe their employer should implement mobile learning, but less than a third (30%) of organisations are doing so.
  • Only 55% of employees are satisfied with their company’s L&D programme.

“There is clearly a disconnect between what employees want and what organisations are delivering when it comes to the learning experience,” said Elliot Gowans, VP EMEA at D2L. “While these results indicate that HR directors are aware of the importance of a learning and development programme, this doesn’t always appear to translate into practice. Today’s employees are eager to learn and want a modern learning experience that utilises the most up-to-date technology and offers them the flexibility to learn from anywhere – so much so that it is starting to impact their decisions when accepting a new job. With learning and CPD becoming increasingly important to employees, by understanding the positive impact of their learning programmes and technology, HR directors will not only boost skills and improve engagement, but also attract and retain key talent.”

A learning programme doesn’t just benefit the employee; it can provide HR teams with invaluable information about employee performance. – Elliot Gowans, VP EMEA, D2L

Embrace adaptive and blended learning

According to the research, employees are also embracing new digital learning programmes and models. Indeed, 41% of employees want their employer to use blended learning, which combines online and traditional methods, whilst 27% would like to take advantage of adaptive learning, a personalised learning approach that adapts in real-time to the individual employee’s capabilities. 

Gowans continued: “It’s not surprising that employees are embracing these learning models. As employees become increasingly connected to each other and company information through modern technology, they have reset their expectations around when, where and how they learn. The modern workplace environment is evolving to include more field and remote workers, which means training increasingly needs to be accessible whenever and wherever employees need it. In order to meet expectations and get the most out of their learning programmes, HR directors need to leverage technology that enables them to tailor training to each individual’s ability whilst combining digital and face-to-face learning.”

Measure the impact of L&D 

Finally, the research indicated that those with L&D programmes in place are failing to maximise them or take time to understand the value of their investments. In fact, a fifth (20%) of HR directors claim they do not measure the success of their learning programme.

“The final – and maybe the most important – rule when investing in workplace learning technology is to measure, measure, measure. By failing to track and evaluate their programme, HR directors are missing out on a golden opportunity to optimise employee learning and engagement. A learning programme doesn’t just benefit the employee; it can provide HR teams with invaluable information about employee performance. It’s also key that HR directors know exactly what they are investing in so that they can maximise their workplace learning technology and adapt the programme if necessary to improve their Return on Investment (ROI),” concluded Gowans. 

For more information on D2L, please visit www.D2L.com  

[post_title] => Workplace learning to benefit from edtech implementation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => workplace-learning-to-benefit-from-edtech-implementation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-08-01 10:53:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-08-01 09:53:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 1971 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 851 [post_author] => 63 [post_date] => 2018-02-14 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-13 23:00:00 [post_content] => Children are growing up with technology infused into many aspects of their lives, including the classroom. Teaching methods are evolving to incorporate 21st-century skills, and blended learning is a great example of this. Blended learning has been defined by the Innosight Institute as ‘a formal education programme in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction, with some element of student control over time, place, path or pace.’ Although blended learning comes in many forms, the use of a virtual learning environment (VLE) creates a dynamic ecosystem to complement existing teaching practices. The flipped classroom is one way to get started with blended learning, but using the tools in a VLE allows you to take it a step further. Blended learning efforts can be amplified by using a VLE to complement teaching practices that are currently in place. If you are ready to take the leap towards implementing blended learning with your VLE, then here are some ways to amplify your efforts: Utilise the VLE for content delivery The VLE allows you to create courses to accommodate different learning styles through video files, audio files, written documents, and live and/or recorded webinars. This flexibility allows you to create engaging content or upload publisher content for your students to use in and out of the classroom. Create learning paths for all Customisation tools, such as intelligent agents, allow for flexible learning paths to be created. Teachers can differentiate instruction based on students’ needs through these tools. If students master content then they can go on to new material while those not meeting proficiency can be guided to remedial or practice content.
'Regardless of how you get started with blended learning, remember that it is not about just adding technology.'
Construct and conduct assessments online Creating or importing assessments in the VLE is a great asset. Many assessments can be all or partly auto-graded. These assessments can help determine learning paths for individual students and assist the teacher in grouping students for maximum benefit. In addition, real-time reports are available for item analysis, so teachers can reflect not only on student performance but assessment validity. Provide space for meaningful interactions Incorporate social media and discussion forums into your online classroom. This feature helps bring your online classroom to life. Students can follow your social media feed for classroom updates or engage in a topical discussion. Discussion forums have the added benefit of extending a classroom conversation in a moderated format – some VLEs even allow teachers to require students to respond to a post before viewing other responses. Incorporate hands-on activities within the online format Extend your classroom reach by creating activities that merge online and face-to-face. Students can use online tools such as ePortfolios to collaborate on projects, privately discuss progress with teachers and/or peer groups, and share versions. The final project can be stored in the ePortfolio as an artefact and evidence of mastery. This online tool provides an interactive, engaging way to complete a project but also an opportunity for later reflection. Blended learning can be accomplished using various outside resources. However, the benefits of a VLE are great when implementing this practice. Regardless of how you get started with blended learning, remember that it is not about just adding technology. Blended learning should supplement and enhance the great things that are already being done in the classroom. Pick what works for you and your students, add to your practice as you all become more comfortable, and adjust when needed. For more on D2L, please click here. [post_title] => How to integrate blended learning with your VLE [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => how-to-integrate-blended-learning-with-your-vle [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-07-21 14:32:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-07-21 13:32:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 1996 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 1041 [post_author] => 23 [post_date] => 2017-11-24 00:00:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-11-23 23:00:00 [post_content] =>

A compelling benefit of technology-based learning is that it provides students, teachers, tutors and administrators with a wealth of information on how students are learning and progressing. This is because learning technology platforms capture data constantly and this can be used to not only generate reports on individual students and groups but also to predict future outcomes.

The sort of outcomes that are really important to predict are whether or not a student or group are going to pass a course, or if they’re at risk of failing and which actions and interventions will provide the greatest chance of success. Armed with this knowledge, tutors can intervene – as necessary – to get (and keep) students on track. 

Empowered learning

Data can be collected all the time when learning is digital. It can reveal many things about student progress and learning behaviour such as proficiency across course topics, personal areas of interest/engagement, where weak points lie, how much time is spent studying and how much participation there is in discussion groups. The beauty of all this captured data is that it provides many opportunities to build a unique picture of each student, therefore, empowering the student’s learning experience.

It enables educators to craft a personalised, adaptable learning journey tailored towards an individual’s success. If something isn’t working, the data shines a light on it and enables something to be done about it. Let’s say a student is faltering on a particular part of the syllabus, then additional content can be added into their work stream to bring them back on track.

 Collectively, data builds a picture of how all students on a course, or across a learning institution, are progressing. From this, deductions can be made on a wider scale that can be used to positively influence the learning path of individuals. For example, if the data shows that students who engage in group discussions perform better in a subject, more participation can be encouraged among the students who tend to work in a more solitary way.   More generally, data can help identity patterns of behaviour that can be modelled in (in the case of good behaviour) learning processes or modelled out (in the case of bad behaviours)

Of course, what works for one student may not work for the next. Learning analytics supports this understanding of the importance of individual learning pathways with concrete detail around what does, and does not suit each student. It gives teachers and administrators insight that they can use to change or adapt content or course delivery. 

Predicting at-risk students

The wealth of data gathered by a learning platform provides a baseline of how students perform overall on a course. An individual’s progress can be compared against this baseline and automatic deductions made.

If predictive analytics determine that a student is not on track and that their learning progress, studying behaviour and/or output indicates they will not achieve the required outcome, a number of options are available to turn things around. The option – or options – that are presented can be managed according to the needs of the student and the available resources of the learning institution. These can range from connecting the student with external resources, to arranging a tutoring session or revising the learning schedule. 

Personal ownership

 Students themselves also benefit from insight into their progress. They can take ownership of their study approach if predictive analytics forecasts an outcome they don’t want. The analytics helps them to understand what they need to do today in order to achieve the result they want tomorrow.  

The impact of these insights on student learning behaviour has been seen in practice. The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) in a 2017 report found that a staggering 81 per cent of students in Nottingham increased their study time after seeing their own engagement data. 

Smart data equals better outcomes 

Predictive analytics supports informed, action-oriented decisions that can help achieve better learning outcomes. This can translate into higher rates of student retention, completion, and success. Insight through analytics empowers both tutors and students to benefit from personalised and adaptive learning and to take ownership of individual learning pathways. 

Over time, continuous course improvement can result from insight through analytics with tweaks or updates made to content and/or delivery to keep study programmes relevant and delivering at the highest level possible. As student needs change over time, this will help educational institutions maintain and improve student engagement, performance and outcomes.

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Schools and universities that incorporate digital learning and virtual learning environments (VLEs) into their blended course delivery want to take full advantage of all that technology can offer. One of the key drivers for education technology is improving student engagement, and in this, VLEs incorporate a range of features that can help. Here are my top five: 

 1.       Personalisation

The resources of an online learning environment can help teachers tailor studies for an engaging personal learning experience. A VLE helps with designing courses, creating content, and marking student work. By personalising learning, teachers can hope to meet each student’s particular needs around pace, content, and style of delivery.

Students need to spend different lengths of time on topics to fully understand them. Self-pacing gives students ownership of their own learning, which is important not only to give them the best chance to succeed, but also to help keep them motivated and engaged.   

Technology-enabled learning also enhances student-teacher communication. In addition to traditional face-to-face meetings, tutorials and progress reviews can take place by phone or through a virtual classroom or meeting platform. This is especially helpful for students where travel to class is a problem.

 2.       Analytics

Central to the personalisation process is the use of data. Through built-in analytics, student progress and outcomes can be used to further tailor the learning experience. If a student is struggling in a particular area, for example, a teacher can pull content from an earlier course module into the student’s learning schedule to help bring them up to speed. By measuring a student’s progress, it becomes clear when they are ready to move onto the next lesson or activity, and this can be regulated through the platform. 

Intelligence within the VLE can be used to automate email notifications triggered by, for example, grade achievements, login history, activity completion or lack thereof. This helps keep students motivated and on track.

Even so, sometimes students need a bit of extra help. They may struggle with their studies for a whole range of reasons, and unfortunately signs that this is the case might not always be easy to spot. Intelligent analytics can support irreplaceable one-to-one intervention by identifying and tracking students at risk of missing milestones, notifying tutors and recommending supplementary resources to the student, as well as clarifying the next steps in their learning journey.

 3.       Mobile

Students are used to living their lives through mobile devices and are used to receiving reminders and just-in-time information through their phones, which often also function as their calendar and ‘to do’ list. Many instinctively turn to their mobile devices to help them with their studies by, for example, looking up information online and finding videos on relevant topics to help their understanding.

By providing course content in a mobile-friendly format, students are more likely to stay on top of tasks and keep up to date with their studies. It enables them to access course content even when they switch devices and, through automatic timetable notifications, they are able to keep on top of class alterations.

 4.       Game-based learning

With rising tuition fees, the pressure is on higher education to meet student expectations of technology as a facilitator of learning. As well as bringing convenience and flexibility to how, when and where students learn, technology can also help with engagement and motivation.

Easy-to-use digital tools, familiar to students from social media and gaming, can be incorporated into course design, motivating learners through rewards and real-time feedback. Of course, what works for one student might not work for another. Competitive leader boards encourage some, but not all, and earning points and recognition may work better for others. Incorporating these and other gamification techniques into course design, along with profiles according to student learner type, can help achieve the best results. 

 5.       Automation

Technology’s responsibility is to extend and enhance our capabilities as humans.

With all this talk of technology, let’s keep in mind that the instructor and their skills are critical to student success. One of a VLE’s greatest strengths is in its ability to automate and eliminate tasks that take valuable instructor time away from students.

A VLE can be set up to manage student notifications, automatically copy and re-offer materials, grade quizzes and assignments, watch for problem student behaviours and take action, and perform other administrative or tedious tasks. When utilised in this way, the instructor can use the time they are saving to review data, create personalised learning plans and give valuable mastery-level feedback to students.

Technology can help in the provision of personalised, flexible and engaging learning experiences. Adaptive learning models support individual learning pathways while mobile-enabled course delivery is flexible to students’ needs for on-demand access. Innovative tools help course design incorporate game-based techniques to hold students’ attention, and supporting it all, we find in-depth analytics that monitor student progress and call out when action is required to keep a student on the right track. Of course, demands on educational institutions are growing all the time; as well as helping directly with student engagement, technology can also help teachers manage their time and resources more effectively, thereby freeing up quality time for them to spend effectively engaging students.

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Technology has compelling benefits to offer education, but adopting it can present some challenges. It takes time to adjust to any new way of working, not least a transition that shifts teaching from a 100% paper and classroom-based delivery to a blend of traditionally and digitally delivered content. Yet, students respond well to virtual learning environments and in the long run they free up more of tutors’ time to spend interacting with students, so it’s worth planning to overcome any obstacles upfront.   

A virtual learning environment (VLE) administers online learning; it provides a flexible learning environment where courses can be built and content can be accessed. Students that use digital platforms to work, learn and play respond well to managing coursework, assignments and evaluations digitally.

In fact, not-for-profit organisation Jisc found that around seven in ten students believe that when technology is used by teaching staff, it enhances their learning experience. There is an opportunity to be met though, as despite student enthusiasm for technology-based learning, Jisc’s later research revealed that 40% of further education students and 46% of those in higher education would like their learning provider’s VLE to be used more by tutors.

Overcoming barriers

If student expectations are to be met and the benefits of technology gained, the challenges of effectively adopting a VLE must be overcome. These challenges include resistance to change, which is a very understandable concern. After all, educators are under continual time pressure, not only to deliver courses but also to prepare lessons and evaluate student progress.

It can be hard to see where the time to learn a new system and get it up and running will come from and while it’s true that time will be needed upfront to successfully adopt the technology, in the long run a VLE can make life easier for tutors; it can save them time on course delivery so it’s an investment worth making.

Change is a big deal and most people are naturally reticent about it. Add to this the reluctance of some to engage with technology, and a VLE can seem a daunting proposition. It’s important to understand these reactions and work with staff to air their concerns. If staff feel forced into the decision they will resist the change and the implementation will suffer.

Being clear about the benefits of a VLE, including the scope it provides for handling repetitive tasks, thereby freeing up tutors for more student time can help ‘sell’ the concept. It’s also important to commit to training and support upfront and to follow through on those commitments to help reassure concerned staff.

Four tips for successful technology adoption  

With the adoption challenges that may be faced in mind, here are four top tips for a successful VLE implementation:

 1.       Set goals – clear goals and objectives for the adoption provide a benchmark for measuring success. By knowing what you want to achieve with the solution, you’ll be able to assess progress throughout initial implementation and measure the benefits delivered over time.

 2.       Plan – an adoption and integration plan should include time upfront to create course content as well as a phased implementation and usage ramp-up. An investment of effort in the planning and design stages will save time later on as tutors and students reap the benefits of always-on access to course materials, assessments and progress reports.

 3.       Communicate – effective communication helps facilitate all change programmes and this is no different with the introduction of a VLE. Keep staff informed and make sure that communication is two-way. Involving staff advocates in this can help bring on board those less confident with the technology.

 4.       Collaborate - once an implementation is underway, the extent and speed of its adoption will depend to some extent on the influence of early adopters and the early majority. Determining who these opinion leaders and change agents are can be more significant to the outcome of the programme than the actual implementation activities of the education technology leaders. Many questions can be answered and concerns addressed through peer collaboration.

For more tips and guidance on how to successfully adopt a VLE, download this free white paper.

Elliot Gowans is VP EMEA at D2L

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Elliot Gowans, Vice President EMEA at D2L, joins the discussion.

Q. Is tech in education inclusive, divisive or neutral?

Elliot Gowans: The lack of social mobility and inequality of any kind is a problem that won’t disappear overnight, especially when it comes to education. However, technology is paving the way for more adaptive and personalised learning, which ensures that each and every student, regardless of their background or ability, receives the attention they need to reach their full potential. 

Delivering “education for all,” with barriers such as distance, time and accessibility, remains one of the biggest challenges facing the education industry. Students from remote locations, poor families and unstable backgrounds are all much more vulnerable to challenges in the classroom. Without the right kind of school setting, support and flexible programming tailored to their unique needs, these students can fail to thrive in the traditional school system. 

Technology is playing a significantly bigger role in bridging these gaps and enabling learning for those that are on the margins. Blended, adaptive and personalised learning models are key, and can only be implemented practically on a large scale via modern technology. 

Q. How can tech make education more inclusive?

Elliot Gowans: Data-driven technology that captures every student’s actions in the classroom, identifying areas of strength and weakness, also enables learning strategies to be tailored, keeping every student engaged and on track for success. Teachers are time-strapped and often faced with a class of 20–30 students, all with different needs and capabilities. Technology that evaluates individual students’ struggles and progression is key in combatting the traditional blanket teaching model where each child is taught in the same way, at the same pace. Pupils need more personalised, adaptive learning that recognises barriers – whether it’s weaknesses, location or time – and adapts the teaching experience accordingly. Technology allows teachers to design learning that accommodates each student, helping them show what they know and interact with content in a way they are comfortable with, at their own pace.

Q. What software or equipment can help?

Elliot Gowans: Tools such as video, social and gamification add a flexibility to learning that can match any student’s skills or time requirements. Whether they’re in the classroom or doing their homework, technology allows students to understand key concepts by allowing information to be presented in multiple ways, wherever they are, and at a pace that suits them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, research from Common Sense Media revealed a few years ago that 75% of children under eight have access to a smartphone or tablet, while 38% of babies as young as two are using mobile devices. Technology is a much bigger part of young peoples’ day-to-day lives than it was of their parents’, and backgrounds or skills rarely change this. With nearly every child familiar with modern mobile devices, technology has the ability to transcend nearly every cultural barrier.

For many students in the UK, English is not their first language, or they may struggle with reading and writing. By failing to communicate with teachers and other students, it can be difficult to develop, often leading to exclusion and lower levels of performance. Technology that includes translation tools, picture dictionaries and text-to-speech capabilities can help overcome these challenges, improving engagement and providing a level playing field.

Q. If money were no object for education, what equipment or resource could be provided for students that are disadvantaged in some way?

Elliot Gowans: Financial constraints are among the biggest barriers preventing real equality in the classroom. It’s often been debated that only the more affluent and privileged students have access to learning technology, but this is a situation that is being increasingly addressed by educational institutions.

Overstretched budgets are a common challenge for schools, which has, in the past, made it harder to prioritise spending on technology. Fortunately, the benefits of modern technology are proving too strong to ignore. A well-thought out and holistic approach to technology can remove inequalities in the classroom and make schools much more inclusive and efficient. It’s also becoming more cost-effective. 

 

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D2L, a global learning technology leader, announces that the University of Derby, the number one university for graduate employment in the East Midlands, UK, has selected the Brightspace virtual learning environment (VLE) to deliver a suite of new online professional development courses. 

Renowned for technology and innovation, the University of Derby decided to build on the success of its online degree programmes and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and introduce a number of paid-for short courses for working professionals seeking Continuing Professional Development (CPD), as well as for employers for their staff development. With topics ranging from leadership and finance, to more specialised subjects including Child and Adolescent Mental Health or Diabetes, the university wanted to expand its offerings for the non-traditional student audience and provide a personalised experience that would attract different types of learners and drive new revenue opportunities. 

Following an evaluation process involving three shortlisted companies, the University of Derby selected D2L’s Brightspace VLE.

Our learners are often eager to learn, yet they are time-constrained and on-the-go, which means they require an adaptable, flexible learning platform that they can engage with when and where it suits them.

“When we decided to introduce online professional development courses, we didn’t want just any VLE; we wanted a flexible, intelligent, insightful VLE. D2L’s Brightspace ticked all of our boxes,” said Munib Hadi, Head of Academic Innovation Hub at the University of Derby. “Our learners are often eager to learn, yet they are time-constrained and on-the-go, which means they require an adaptable, flexible learning platform that they can engage with when and where it suits them. Brightspace stood out in this respect. The platform is extremely easy to use and can be tailored to each learner’s lifestyle and skillset - something that is very important for us.

“What I particularly like about Brightspace is that it automates the delivery of our courses, but it still has the human touch. The platform uses intelligence agents to recognise each learner’s progress and communicate with them accordingly. We are able to automatically generate emails and still offer a truly personalised learning experience. Furthermore, the platform’s data analytics capabilities give us invaluable insight into which courses are popular, helping us continually adapt our classes and improve our teaching.”

Brightspace is mobile responsive, offers real-time analytics, a personalised learning experience, and complete accessibility, all within one flexible VLE. The dynamic and mobile Daylight interface enables instructors to design courses easily, create content and grade assignments on their phone or tablet. Brightspace’s built-in analytics enable the University of Derby to monitor courses and individuals, helping them tailor each learner’s experience.

“The University of Derby, like D2L, is committed to taking an innovative approach to technology and learning, which was clear from the outset,” said Elliot Gowans, VP EMEA, D2L. “Derby already has a great reputation for online learning and we are looking forward to helping the university further develop and enhance its online credentials.”

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Many of us still remember how the mobile phone used to be (a large handset, buttons and ¾ yes ¾ an aerial), yet astonishingly, the iPhone has just celebrated its tenth birthday. A world away from those early models, its ease of use and touchscreen technology catapulted the smartphone into the mainstream and kick-started the stratospheric rise of the smart mobile device. Since then, mobile has changed the way we communicate, and continues to influence how we work, live and play.

Its influence is felt in education. Traditional lecture-based classroom teaching is now supplemented with technology-enabled learning, and this includes mobile. 

Children as young as primary age interact readily with digital devices such as tablets. Young people conduct their social lives through their phones, and instinctively turn to them first for news, information-sharing and entertainment. By capitalising on familiarity with mobile, education can motivate today’s digital natives through new and innovative ways of learning.

Always-on access

Young people expect always-on access to the information they need. Mobile learning can deliver the kind of content they can engage with ¾ wherever and whenever ¾ in a way that suits them. Portable smart devices can be used in the classroom as well as at home. They are interactive so content can be developed in stimulating formats, utilizing navigation and techniques familiar from digital platforms, including social media.

What’s more, mobile apps can help students keep track of their studies through automated updates and the means to check on assignments and their own progress.

Motivated learning

A 2017 study of the use of iPads in primary/nursery schools in Northern Ireland found a range of benefits from using the devices in the classroom. Among them is the interesting finding that children view learning on the devices as play and are more motivated and enthused as a result.

For the most part, principals and teachers at the participating schools suggested that the introduction of digital technology had a positive impact on reading and writing, as well as the development of numeracy skills. They believed that iPads in the classroom enhanced communication skills and that, particularly where pupils shared the devices, there was a high level of discussion.

21st-century learning experience

For older students, flexible, accessible mobile learning supports the development of their independence, ownership of their progress and time management of their studies. Students expect a 21st-century learning experience ¾ one that’s convenient, is tailored to their needs and saves them time, which is exactly what mobile learning does. Not providing such an experience can become a barrier to successful learning.

Mobile can also help parents connect with teachers and stay up to date with their child’s progress at school. Digital portfolios, enabled through a Virtual Learning Environment and accessible at home on mobile devices, help bridge the school-home divide, giving parents insight into schoolwork, class activity, pending assignments and their child’s progress. It also ensures they are aware of topics being discussed in the classroom, giving them the opportunity to bring the conversation into the home.

Preparing for the workplace

Embracing mobile in education also familiarises students with ways of learning that are increasingly adopted in today’s workplace, preparing them for what they will no doubt come across in future employment.

Learning continues to be a feature beyond education, but face-to-face training can be difficult for many companies to implement. E-Learning, which fits into employee schedules and can be accessed from wherever their job takes them, is gaining in popularity. Anytime, anywhere access to learning content is made possible not only by the ubiquity of mobile, but also the growing demand from today’s younger generation.

 Mobile technology has already begun to influence when, where and how learning takes place. In today’s hyper-connected world its influence will continue to grow with mobile devices occupying an ever more significant role in the classroom. The integration of mobile technologies into the learning experience supports new and exciting ways of delivering engaging content; it also helps build the digital skills young people need beyond education. 

Elliot Gowans is VP EMEA at D2L

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Social media is now many people’s number one choice when it comes to finding out the latest news and staying in touch with friends and contacts. As the rise in mobile communication drives this shift, the education industry is increasingly embracing these technological advances. Indeed, instructors that use learning management systems to develop mobile-friendly courses that integrate with social media stand to better connect and engage with students.

While some may have initially considered social media unfit for the classroom, educational institutions are now exploring whether it might actually enhance the learning experience. In one such study by the University of Glasgow 68 per cent of students thought it would. The study suggested that social media could increase student motivation and engagement with course material, increase student-to-student collaboration, and enhance interaction between students and lecturers. It also made the interesting point that using social media provides students with useful skills for employability.

Social media is integral to the way people communicate and interact

The way we consume information evolves all the time, and technology creates ever more engaging ways of sharing information. Facebook, now with 1.86 billion monthly active users, initially led the shift toward social media but has been swiftly joined by a wide range of other platforms. These have been readily adopted, in particular by younger generations, as they are familiar (and comfortable) with digital communications and real-time information sharing. 

This has transformed the way that whole generations live, work and learn. Education in turn needs to learn from the qualities that make social media so compelling – it is instant, engaging, visual and personal. By integrating these qualities into course content and delivery, learning can aim to meet millennials’ expectations of on-demand and always-on.

Educational institutions on the whole make good use of social media marketing to sell courses and attract students, but many stop short of incorporating it into their course delivery.    

There were concerns that social media could only be a distraction from learning. Over time, these have begun to give way to the realisation that, when incorporated in a managed way, the advantages of social media can benefit learning. It’s about finding the right balance through the successful use of technology.

Educational institutions on the whole make good use of social media marketing to sell courses and attract students, but many stop short of incorporating it into their course delivery.  

Social media extends the reach and appeal of course content

Through tools that students find familiar and engaging, educational experiences can be richer. Integrating mobile-friendly, digital educational content with social media platforms builds the learning experience around the student. It is personalised, reaches every learner, and fosters imagination, creativity, and the development of skills needed by tomorrow’s workforce.

Courses can be designed to include elements that students identify with from their use of social media, such as newsfeeds, quizzes, video content, and discussion groups for collaboration and sharing. These tools can help instructors connect and engage with the social-driven learners of today.

Learning management systems (LMS) support lecturers in tailoring their course content and delivery to their students’ needs. This includes visual, mobile-friendly design support. By integrating with social media services, LMSs extend the reach and appeal of courses, enabling lecturers to push content automatically to apps such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  

With the majority of students now owning a smartphone, and social media usage accounting for a large proportion of online smartphone activity, this is a communication channel that lecturers simply can’t afford to overlook. That said, the challenge comes in selecting the frequency and volume of information to share – too much and institutions risk ‘spamming’ their students’ feeds; too little and they may fail to engage them.  

A positive addition to the way we learn

By looking at shifting behavioural patterns, educators can learn from changes in the way we communicate to introduce technologies that will help keep students engaged in their studies.

Social media can be a positive addition to learning tools, and its place as a communications channel is so undisputed that to dismiss it would be to miss an opportunity. A social learning experience can become a successful way of reaching all learners effectively.

Working with the right tools, educators can harness the full power of social media to interact with all students through visually appealing, compelling content delivered in an engaging way. 

Elliot Gowans is VP EMEA at D2L

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By Elliot Gowans VP of EMEA at www.d2l.com

The classroom we all think of, for the most part, was likely the same classroom Socrates taught in thousands of years ago. Though we’ve seen some changes since this time, Socrates would have taught in the open air on the stones of the Agora while we sat at desks in school rooms, fundamentally, the art of teaching and learning hasn’t changed much in the last few millennia.

The traditional way of learning has often involved one teacher instructing a group of around 20 to 30 students with the same materials at the same pace. Students have been delivered content by their teachers in the classroom and given instructions to work on these materials as homework. However, a shift can be seen in the way younger generations are being taught. Through the use of technology, classrooms can now be “flipped”, reversing the learning environment by delivering content that teachers would have previously shared in the classroom online and bringing activities often associated with homework into the classroom.

Indeed, modern-day learning increasingly involves students watching lectures on their phone, tablet or laptop when they’re at home, moving the traditional “classroom” into out-of-hours. The work that used to be done at home can now be done during the day. The flipped classroom means that students are given materials before class, and then told to analyse and engage with the content during class hours. This encourages greater collaboration amongst students and gives teachers more time to answer students’ questions and help with the learning process. 

Modern-day learning increasingly involves students watching lectures on their phone, tablet or laptop when they’re at home, moving the traditional “classroom” into out-of-hours

The flipped classroom isn’t a new concept. Chemistry teachers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams pioneered the model in 2007, and it was later championed by Sal Khan, who founded Khan Academy based on this format and spoke about it at a TED Talk in 2011. Since then, the concept has gathered more mainstream attention and, today, a growing number of higher-ed faculty are using flipped learning.

What’s useful is that, because the flipped classroom has been around for a while, we’ve seen many times how this should and should not be implemented. For example, flipped classrooms need to be about more than just video lectures. Educators need to keep the focus on making classroom time meaningful. The model also fails when educators forget to apply varied teaching strategies. Furthermore, it’s important to start small as opposed to implementing a flipped classroom on a large scale. Students need to understand the model and see how it can add value to them and their education; teachers need to ensure students are able to transfer their knowledge to new situations; and parents need to take the time to learn about how the concept works and what they can do to best help their child. It’s also worth noting that the flipped model is not an “all or nothing” proposition — it can be used as part of the “mix” of educational tools.

When implemented properly, the flipped classroom can have incredible benefits. It creates stronger relationships and better interactions between teachers and students, which can help students feel less pressure and subsequently achieve higher test scores. Weaker students, in particular, benefit from flipping the classroom as they have more opportunities to engage with teachers and other students, discuss ideas and work through any problem areas. For teachers, a flipped classroom enables them to personalise lessons, assessments and reporting so that students fully understand and can work with the material.

The concept of a flipped classroom is becoming more widely spoken about in the education industry for many reasons. Today’s classrooms require a much more fluid learning model that builds an experience around the students and teachers, allowing them to nurture relationships and improve engagement levels both in and out of the classroom. With the use of technology, this is now able to happen.

[post_title] => What you need to know about flipped classrooms [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => what-you-need-to-know-about-flipped-classrooms [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-08-01 10:59:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-08-01 09:59:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 2847 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 21 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 19670 [post_author] => 81 [post_date] => 2019-11-20 14:18:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-11-20 14:18:10 [post_content] => First introduced in 2015, degree apprenticeships were hailed as a panacea for social mobility. A way of opening higher education up to students who were disengaged from the traditional academic system, their goal was to increase diversity among young people choosing to continue with their studies. As degree apprentices do not pay tuition fees and also receive a basic salary, in theory they are open to all. At the same time, businesses were crying out for ‘workplace ready’ skills, complaining that graduates are often ill-equipped for a professional environment. With two equally compelling arguments it’s easy to see why the government sees degree apprenticeship schemes as a win-win for all. There are approximately 45 degree apprenticeships offered by UK universities currently, and that figure continues to rise. But the rollout of degree apprenticeships hasn’t been without its critics. An article in The Independent claims that a huge proportion of people applying for degree apprenticeships are from white, advantaged backgrounds. Quoting research from the Office for Students (OfS) for the academic year 2016/17, it suggests that only 13% of those taking up degree apprenticeship places were from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, and that 87% of apprentices supported by the Degree Apprenticeship Development Fund (DADF) were white. This is clearly at odds with the original thinking behind their introduction.
While degree apprenticeships are seen as a route to securing a career path while gaining life skills – but without incurring huge debts – they can also be a daunting prospect as students are essentially juggling an academic and a professional life.
And while degree apprenticeships are seen as a route to securing a career path while gaining life skills – but without incurring huge debts – they can also be a daunting prospect as students are essentially juggling an academic and a professional life. For some, there’s a perception that degree apprenticeships are harder than studying for a degree in isolation, as students split their time between the place of learning and the workplace. Understanding how and what students need to learn, how their progress is monitored and how they can benefit from a seamless learning and working experience can be a challenge. This is where technology is helping to bridge the gap between the learning institution, the workplace and the student, ensuring that all parties feel connected and supported throughout the process.

Supporting the learner

As digital natives, today’s students expect a platform that completely supports their personal learning journey – from providing the materials and resources they need to complete assignments, to receiving ongoing feedback and having the facility to build a digital portfolio of work that will help them secure a job. With degree apprenticeships this also means being able to track progress both academically and professionally.
As digital natives, today’s students expect a platform that completely supports their personal learning journey.
Next-generation virtual learning environments (VLEs) provide a space for collaboration as well as supporting learning and ensuring that students feel part of university life. For students who split their time between university and their place of employment, these platforms enable them to feel as secure in their remote learning as they would in a classroom. They also provide vital and open lines of communication between the learner, the tutor and the employer.

Engaging the employer

Employers have, for some time, complained that students are leaving university without the right skills for the workplace. The 2018 Job Outlook Survey produced by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, for example, claims that 89.4% of students believe they are proficient enough in their professionalism and work ethic to enter the workplace, whereas only 42.5% of employers agree. Skills are not just limited to the highly vocational careers of nursing, accountancy or software engineering either, but also those looking to pursue careers in digital, business and finance. Companies ranging from Warburtons to the BBC and BAE Systems have all launched degree apprenticeship programmes, prompted by the Apprenticeship Levy which requires all companies with a payroll of more than £3m to pledge 0.5% of their payroll costs to apprenticeship training. Mainly, they have been well received by employers.
Until degree apprenticeships become part of the DNA of an organisation’s training and recruitment strategy, work needs to be done to build relationships between the employer and the learning institution.
Until degree apprenticeships become part of the DNA of an organisation’s training and recruitment strategy however, work needs to be done to build relationships between the employer and the learning institution. The two have different ways of communicating, learning and reporting, but consistency is vital in order to benefit the apprentice. VLE platforms that have been built with both educational institutions and corporates in mind can enable this consistency. They make it easy for employers to be hands-on in monitoring the progress of their apprentices both on their courses and in the workplace. All tasks and assignments are captured within the platform and employers can see how much apprentices are engaging with their academic studies. They can also provide feedback on workplace progress directly to the apprentice and to tutors, flagging issues so they can be dealt with quickly by all three parties. Lastly, capturing this information means apprentices are automatically provided with evidence of learning and progress.

Empowering the learning institution

For teaching staff, the dual aspect of a degree apprenticeship also brings challenges. Many have used technology to deliver courses to students opting for distance or part-time learning. But with degree apprenticeships, there is also the added dimension of reporting back on progress to an employer. In many ways, the success of degree apprenticeship courses hinge on the quality of the relationship between tutor and employer. Their ability to communicate effectively has a huge impact on the apprentice.
In many ways, the success of degree apprenticeship courses hinge on the quality of the relationship between tutor and employer.
Technology can make this easy. By using a VLE, personal tutors can manage the tripartite relationship between themselves, their student and the employer via one platform. This can be done through assessments, continuous engagement, including video feedback, and monitoring and reporting on engagement levels – and by developing an understanding of the needs of the employer from the outset. All three parties can collaborate via the VLE to help the apprentice build the best possible e-portfolio of evidence-based work which can be used as they enter the workplace full-time. In return, tutors have visibility over what is happening outside of the learning environment, receiving direct feedback from the employer and using that to inform and adapt how they support each student’s journey. Having one VLE platform that can accommodate every type of learner journey, from traditional degrees to part-time, distance learning or graduate apprenticeships, is hugely efficient for the institution in terms of procurement and for the course leaders for usability. For more information, visit https://www.d2l.com/en-eu/

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