Summary: Learners’ workstream

This workstream focused on enhancing the experience of all learners across the FE system using Learning Technology. Emerging themes included that learners need a framework in which to share their digital skills with FE and Skills staff as well as with other learners, and that this work should be recognised via minimum wage payments or accreditation. It was also mentioned that learners should be consulted on recommendations which would affect them – although how this could be best achieved was not determined.

In addition, the idea that all learners need digital skills to enable them to fully participate in a digital society, and that assistive technologies can provide opportunities for learning for those who might otherwise be excluded, was also widely cited in discussions.

Draft recommendations:

  1. Scaling up the Digital Leader: empowering learners with digital technology expertise to transform teaching and learning models through widening (public- and private-) funded participation in ‘Digital Leader’-type schemes
  2. Empowering the learner voice: learners should be invited through the open conversation to review FELTAG’s proposals that will most affect them, and comment
  3. The missing link: funding the critical medium-term research gap for FE learner and provider digital needs. Create a funding plan so key research in FE learner and provider digital trends can take place and is accompanied by an implementation strategy connected to previous developments and recommendations.  Establish the ‘state of the nation’ in learner, provider, teacher, awarding bodies preparedness and abilities to make best use of learning technologies. This should help identify gaps, priorities and best approaches.
  4. Assistive Technology: providers must make better use of AT to improve learner outcomes
  5. Establish the extent to which learners of all ages are excluded from making positive use of learning technology

Your views:

  • Building on these proposals, what specific changes to the ideas for learners are needed to make the biggest difference to you?
  • Can you suggest any good mechanisms for achieving these recommendations?
  • Are there other issues relating to learners that should be considered?

Rate the learners’ workstream:

In your opinion, how useful are these draft recommendations on learners ( 5 = very, 1 = not at all).

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Learners, 4.0 out of 5 based on 10 ratings

7 thoughts on “Learners

  1. Crispin Weston

    This strand confuses the teaching of computing and digital skills with the use of technology to enhance learning. They are completely separate objectives, which may sometimes have synergies but are often antagonistic.

    In general, it has been assumed that teaching digital literacy will create independent, lifelong learners. This has assumed that accessing information and social networks would make significant contributions to formal education. All the evidence such pedagogies make only very marginal contributions.

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  2. William Jenkins

    With regard to empowering learner voice the FELTAG proposals may be a good reason to establish a collective and concerted effort to encourage students to shout about their FE experiences.

    Dell sponsors a vibrant @Stu_Voice forum in the US and feel an FE student hashtag could be established to get their views on Technology, and maintained as a way to promote FE and/or get student views on other national further education issues. There were a few comments at the AoC Conference about the great results FE were achieving but, for various reasons, the message does not always seem to reach other stakeholders (schools, prospective students, employers etc).

    There is no doubt that modern apprenticeships can set students on the same path as uni – and if you agree with what @jenny_blake says in her Ted Talk “The Career in the Age of the App” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oZI9Qtymfg you may be inclined to think that they will get you there quicker!

    In the age of social media existing students spreading the word about FE could make a real impact on policy, learner voice, admissions… and help students with digital citizenship and improve their job prospects. For example see how this has helped @Samuelship http://apprentice-ship.com/About-Me

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  3. Bob Mackenzie

    Commenting on digital leaders

    In HAFLS (Hertfordshire adult and family learning service) ie HCC’s community learning dept, we have sponsored several “champions” or “leader” courses. In a couple of instances these have been hugely successful in others they have faded to nothing

    They are successful when an supportive infrastructure has been placed around them. Leaders need frequent directing and management. This, of course, requires ongoing resources. You cannot rely on leader self motivation. Just training leaders then expecting them to be self motivated and to operate independently will not lead to success.

    In short “leaders” can make excellent contributions to their communities but they are not a cheap option

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  4. Alistair McNaught

    The focus on assistive technology is welcome and must include openness to free and open source tools / apps etc, not just commercial tools. Equally important is a focus on ensuring procurement policies for ALL mainstream tools (from hardware to software and services) include a strong accesibility audit.
    When mainstream products have accessibility built in the requirement for specific AT tools is significantly reduced. Jisc TechDis has a very wide range of free advice and guidance in all these areas and a recent focus has been helping to raise awareness among disabled learners as to minimal “reasonable adjustment” entitlements. WHen learners are empowered to know their rights learning providers are motivated to get their act together.

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  5. Nigel Ecclesfield

    Alistair McNaught has raised a number of pertinent issues around the use of collaborative and “open” approaches to development and I would endorse his comments. I see this theme as one of the most critical of the FELTAG workstreams and would offer the following observations;
    By using “Digital Leaders” as the example of learner particiaption, this tends to give an impression that the model developed for the sector will follow practices in schools, even if the intention is to promote the principles from that work. I would prefer to see examples of learner engagement drawn from practice in the sector, which ranges from the learner committees and community practices adopted by the WEA (Workers Education Association), various initiatives in colleges to engage students in innovation and as “technology stewards” or “e-guides” through to the pioneering work at Henshaws College to offer severely disabled students the opportunity to respond independently of carers and helpers to review and evaluation of their experience.

    Equally, there are concerns about the digital literacies of students in further education and higher education and these literacies have been explored in detail in a Jisc funded programme “Developing digital literacies” which explores both current levels of digital literacies of learners and staff and seeks to establish ways in which providers in the sector can contribute to “Those capabilities which fit someone for living, learning and working in a digital society.” http://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/developing-students-digital-literacy

    For adult learners coming from employment and wanting higher level qualifications there are issues of engaging individuals in planning, managing and, in an increasing number of cases, co-creating their learning.

    Through the Jisc digital literacies programme, and other initiatives at Jisc, we are coming to appreciate both the necessity to engage learners and their existing knowledge and skills and the complexity of achieving a vision that links these existing abilities to promoting other outcomes supported by this conversation such as employability, independence and collaboration.

    For those interested in practical developments of these ideas might like to go to the following links;

    E-guides at Llandrillo Menai: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruPIvEN7ahI
    Independent living skills at Llandrillo Menai: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfuRBD5wj0o
    Digital literacy at Worcester College: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3frHQg-SUC8

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  6. David Phillips

    Pearson welcomes FELTAG’s recommendations. Harnessing and recognising learners’ technological expertise and learning preferences to aid their peers’ and tutors’ learning is a valuable idea, which could maximise and foster a ‘technological interchange of skills’.

    FELTAG proposes the creation of a common framework by which learners use their digital skills to participate with peers, mentors, tutors and trainers in their learning. This framework would be informed by the ‘learner voice’ and Pearson strongly agrees with the proposal to consult learners on these recommendations and to gain their views.

    Pearson also supports FELTAG’s proposal to extend this research to include learners of all ages to gain a better overview and to determine ‘how’ and ‘to what extent’ they can be better supported in their learning through their adoption of learning technology and new ways of learning. Technology is in a constant state of flux and therefore this research would require careful consideration in order to provide meaningful data. Pearson would be happy to work with FELTAG to determine how this can be best achieved to improve learner outcomes and reflect learners’ preferences and approaches to online teaching and learning.

    It is important that there is a distinction between the need to increase technological capability and to improve the pedagogical employment of that technology. In this respect, learners should be encouraged to comment upon what supports their learning journey and how it can work to improve their outcomes. We should not expect them to create, or be responsible for, the associated pedagogy.

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  7. Helen Milner

    Sector providers should make it their responsibility to identify, support and develop learners’ digital capabilities to become effective online learners, to demonstrate their online skills to employers and to be active digital citizens. We all know that learning by doing is a very important part of the learning process; using Course Builder provided through Learn My Way learners can create their own online courses and share them with other learners within their institution. The online platform enables the learner to take control over their own learning, and by thinking of the learning outcomes of other students and being creative their own learning will be deeper.

    No learner should leave the formal FE Sector without basic online skills. Tinder Foundation can make Learn My Way available to all learners who need to develop their basic online skills. We have a vast amount of experience working with learners who are from hard to reach groups, this is experience we can share with the providers across the sector. We also take the learning one step further and provide a qualification which learners can undertake. It is accredited by City & Guilds and provides learners with 1 credit on the QCF. In the first instance we would urge the Minister to strongly advise colleges, and other providers, to use Learn My Way as a free learning tool for all of their students without basic online skills – this would avoid arguments about funding as the courses are free and online and therefore available to all at any place and at any time.

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