Daniel Howard, Managing Director at Skills Forward, discusses the specific struggles faced by training providers as a direct result of coronavirus, how this is impacting on apprentices and what you can do to implement successful eLearning and remote delivery for your apprentices.
Recently released guidance from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has laid out support and information for apprentices, employers and training providers. This guidance refers to supporting apprentices and the continuation of their programmes during the coronavirus pandemic, including online teaching and delivery methods.
The ESFA encourages a move towards eLearning
The advice is championing online delivery with the ESFA stating that it is: “encouraging training providers to deliver training to apprentices remotely and via eLearning as far as is practicable”. For some providers, this may mean scaling up on something which they already do to some extent. However, for many other providers, this is brand new territory. If you’re new to the concept of eLearning, myself and my colleagues have a wealth of experience in implementing online learning software for training providers to support a range of learners.
Here are my top tips for successful eLearning and remote delivery for your apprentices.
Tip 1: make it personal
If you’re not familiar with it, your first encounter with eLearning means that you’ll likely recognise that eLearning feels different to traditional delivery. Without the opportunity for face to face contact and instant feedback through conversation, body language and eye contact, the remote learning experience can feel strangely isolating – but it doesn’t have to be.
To ensure that your remote delivery is providing a great learning experience, you need to offer personalisation for your learners. Consider how you manage the digital interactions you have in day to day life, outside of work or the classroom.
It might sound simple, but your feedback needs to be clear, comprehensive and address the learner personally. You can’t rely on your non-verbal cues when you communicate largely over email and digital platforms and if you forget this, you run the risk of crossed wires and miscommunication. Don’t let what you’ve written be misinterpreted and alienate the learner, take your time and remember there’s a human at the other end of the communication.
Your content shouldn’t be one size fits all and your platform should support that. Individualisation is vital and our software tools for English and maths delivery and employability skills are intuitive and will provide an individualised learning plan for each of your learners based on their initial assessment results.
Tip 2: make it seamless
Digital experiences are part of everyday life and we have all metaphorically and physically switched off when a process is cumbersome, full of glitches or the interface is visually unappealing.
It’s almost become second nature to use a digital first approach in other aspects of life, so our standards for digital tools are high and this extends to education and learning experiences. Ensure that within your learning programme, the resources and assessment software feels familiar in process to other digital experiences such as a single sign on, notifications and visual familiarity with other platforms outside of education.
If your learners are used to tapping away on their phone or they use predominantly Apple or Android software, does what you’re looking at cater for these platforms? Make sure to walk through this process yourself. One of our pioneering eLearning tools that we’ve added to our portfolio is our Skills Go app, for learning anywhere in the palm your learner’s hand. If they expect it from other services such as watching movies or ordering pizza, why not education?
Tip 3: make it accessible
Similar to providing a seamless digital experience, you should consider whether your remote delivery is accessible for all learners, whatever their learning abilities. There are many reasons why learning, whether in the classroom or online, may not be accessible for everyone.
Statistics show that:
- 10% of the population is estimated as having dyslexia
- 3-6% of the population has dyscalculia
- 11 million people are deaf or hard of hearing
- 2 million people who are blind or have sight impairments.
These learning challenges exist alongside many more and learning needs should be a primary consideration when you are looking at eLearning tools. Does the software you’re considering accommodate the needs of all of your learners?
Our software has been designed with accessibility features included as standard, including:
- Fully WCAG 2.1aa
- ReciteMe added to the entire platform
- full audio guidance available
- adjustable text size
- dyslexia and colour blind colour settings
- compatible with desktop, mobile and tablet.
Tip 4: make it flexible
One of the benefits of taking your learners online is that everyone can set their own pace to learn at a time that suits them and complete their work in an on demand fashion. Whether it’s 9am or 9pm, it doesn’t matter – as long as they meet deadlines and complete work on time.
It may be a hard and fast lesson in self-direction, motivation and independence but these skills, alongside flexibility, are hugely important for your learners. With the potential for the workplace to look very different after coronavirus, the ‘typical 9-5’ may no longer be deemed appropriate. The world may well be looking for more self-starters who can manage their own time.
To help learners become used to this, we built the functionality to set targets and key milestones for learners in our English and maths eLearning platform and our ePortfolio system. When learners log in, they can see specific targets that have been set for them to complete as part of their individualised skills plan. Delivery staff can then review progress and achievement against these targets when they next have a review with their learners.
Tip 5: make it work for YOU
Think also about the specifics of what you as a provider need from your eLearning. This will encompass all of the above but might also include the rich data that you need to run your business, provide learner feedback and use as evidence for your regulators.
Your dashboards and reports should be easily available and interpretable, and offer the level of detail that you need to run your business, whether that’s a record of prior learning for apprentices, a clear learning plan for individuals, data at cohort, group or provider level or by month or year, your platform should offer this. You can evidence prior learning using our self-analysis skills gap tool, Skills Review and provide evidence of online delivery to regulators with data from our e-portfolio tool Skills Portfolio.
Getting started with eLearning
This is a challenging time for the education sector for many reasons and there are many providers who may, or already are facing, hardships that will take a long time to recover from. We’re here to help and offer support and guidance where we can, especially if you’re transitioning your delivery online.
Our team can support you with our eLearning software that is geared up to be flexible, accessible and will supply the data that you need to keep delivering your apprenticeship programmes where possible. We have no set up costs, our training is completely free and we have flexible packages to support different sized providers.
For a demonstration of any of our eLearning software, please get in touch and our team will discuss our solutions and how they can support you, your organisation and your learners.