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During the past decade millions of pounds have been invested in chasing the dream of e-enabled teaching and learning. Following the lead of UK Higher Education (HE) a substantial investment was made in UK Further Education (FE) and this has continued with support now extending to Adult Learning and Specialist Colleges.

Centrally provided funding was enhanced by a factor of three with institutions clambering to make themselves e-led. Wonderful suites full of the latest technology – or it was at the time of purchase – are often marketing lures for institutions hoping to reel in the students. There is no doubt that students who use technology as part of their learning are shown to be better motivated, more likely to stay the course – but…
Has the scramble to connect been focused at the wrong end?

Institutions are often static buildings, still requiring ‘attendance’. They remain stuck in the traditional mode of terms and with inflexible patterns of teaching and learning. Within UK FE, 59% of institutions have purchased a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) but less than 17% have utilised these institution-wide. IT suites are still the norm rather than ‘e-enabled rooms’. Within institutions, Information Learning Technology (ICT) is still being championed by the enthusiast but not understood by the Executive. In HE numbers have expanded but has participation widened? The research says no.

If we invert the triangle, and ask what students want, we might get a shock. Society has changed the way we all live and work. Our patterns of activity have moved to a 24/7 culture putting more power directly into consumer hands. Communication patterns have changed to a point where more often than not it takes place from a mobile phone, which has been 'adapted' by users into transmitting text often utilising a widely understood, informal 'new' language.

There needs to be a transformation not only in the provision of teaching and learning but, just as importantly, a clear link between managing the learning and the learner. Innovative use of technology will enable learner-centric teaching and learning to be a reality. We should not be surprised if we fail to widen participation when we still expect learners to be confined within walls or be treated as a cohort rather than an individual.

I am not advocating a wholesale reduction in face to face teaching but I am suggesting that by making learning appropriate for the individual we will add to the richness of the experience and at the same time make it more relevant to more learners.

I am not just talking theory, as in Buckinghamshire we believe in walking the talk. Working from a research project on ‘non-learners’ we have taken their identified barriers to accessing learning and used technology to help overcome them.

What they said:-
• Cannot commit to regular sessions
• In the past spent ‘years’ studying only to be branded a failure
• Colleges are not for me, they are full of clever people
• Cannot stand all the paper work
• Dismissed as I was in the bottom group
• Cannot travel far – kids you know
• Not treated as an individual
• I was seen as difficult because I wanted to learn in a different way
And so on…

What we have done:
• Taken learning to the learner utilising laptop technology
• Given them a Smartcard which:
o Records their details in a user friendly way
o Lets them device and record their learning goals
o Lets them and their tutor/facilitator monitor progress
o Records their success
o Treats them as an individual within a learning community
o Works off line as well as on
o Is ‘e-pursed’ interactively with a central data base
o Can be tutor adapted to record satisfaction
o Logs into technology in a user friendly way
• Incentivises the learning – yes points for achievement mean rewards - real money in our case
• Links the learner to our MLE
• Creates an account which can be web accessed if no smart card reader is used during a session and then card is updated, if used, at next log on
• Provides an unique individual learning log

What do they think?
• Feedback from learners has been very positive agreeing the simplicity of access to resources is a great help.
• Tutors have commented on how learners seem to enjoy the ownership of their own card to access their learning.
• Community based project such as "Getting smarter by far" have found the offline registration and data collection aspect of the solution has allowed them to greatly reduce their administration burden.

This has been piloted with 2000 learners and in September we will be rolling out across Skills For Life including ICT and Skills For Employment where we are going to create ‘A Virtual Business Club’. We are convinced that inverting the triangle and focusing on technology to create individuality will enhance opportunities for learners to ‘Get Smart’.

Whether you are working in HE – FE – ACL or other post 16 providers ILT can help you transform your organisation into one that Provides Learning Fit For The 21st Century.

So invert your triangle– jump off the pinnacle – embrace ILT and see transformation in action.



This presentation is part of session "Closing Plenary" which starts at Thursday, June 10 @ 11:00


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Last modified on the 15th 2004f June 2004 - 12:35