FE failing to integrate edtech

FE colleges believe there is still a long way to go towards integrating technology-enabled learning into the curriculum

The report, by YMCA Awards, reveals that whilst providers involved in the study are hungry to modernise learning, many feel they are being held back by a lack of resources and necessary funds needed to meet the essential costs of development, setup and maintenance.

In its study, Lessons in Technology-Enhanced Learning, YMCA Awards reveals the findings from its own market research, undertaken with a group of major UK colleges and private training providers, ahead of launching a new eLearning pilot.

The report highlights a number of persistent barriers to adoption and discovers that part of the problem may be the nature of eLearning itself. Participants complained about ‘supplier hype’, overwhelming choice, and off-the-shelf eLearning products being too inflexible, or not extending beyond the classroom.

The research also points to issues associated with the culture and structure of organisations. Rob May, director of YMCA Awards, explained: “Our research found strong examples of innovation in digital learning, but many participants suggested that this was often occurring organically, in pockets, and was down to the drive and passion of project managers rather than systemic culture change.  We found that wholesale adoption of digital learning – which requires experimentation, risk, change management and capacity building – remains elusive whilst institutions are being driven hard by compliance and cost-reduction.”

We found that wholesale adoption of digital learning – which requires experimentation, risk, change management and capacity building – remains elusive whilst institutions are being driven hard by compliance and cost-reduction’

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The report also challenges a major assumption that young people entering vocational education have high expectations about eLearning and are ‘tech savvy’, finding that although young people may be conversant in social media, gaming and entertainment technology, the digital learning experience can be very different. 

However, when YMCA Awards introduced concepts such as gaming, rewarding, and chunking learning into digestible pieces, the feedback from both learners and tutors was overwhelmingly positive – 83% of students who took part in the pilot said they would recommend the eLearning to others and 100% of tutors agreed that eLearning catered for different learning styles and provided effective support in delivering the qualification.

Students taking part in the study also embraced the flexibility of eLearning. Data collected during the pilot found that 26% of students chose to learn outside normal classroom hours in addition to face to face learning, and 14% opted to work at weekends. 

May added: “This research has challenged us to think differently about eLearning and to include more features such as game-thinking, micro content – which squeezes learning into downtime via mobile devices, and also apps to support the learning process and enrich face to face learning.’

YMCA Awards will be discussing the findings of its report at a free-to-attend symposium event in London on 24th September.

For further information please visit the website https://www.ymcaawards.co.uk

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