Embracing EdTech – a new age for education

Lockdown brought with it a new age for tech enabled learning. Many classrooms moved online as a safety measure to ensure that we limited the spread of coronavirus. However, prior to lockdown, the upwards trajectory for tech enabled learning was already on the agenda for many schools, colleges and training providers.

The use of portal systems like Moodle and online resources for some was a helpful tool at their disposal. But, even to the most technically savvy of tutors, teaching exclusively using tech was a shock to the system. For the traditionalists who love nothing more than their beloved notebooks and handwritten lists, adapting to unfamiliar sights like Microsoft Teams, Trello and textbooks navigated by a touch screen, was even more of a challenge.

With our new found love, or at least tolerance, of EdTech, how do providers evolve their delivery from simply surviving to thriving?

Supporting tech-enabled education

Generally speaking, encompassing education and the workplace, our reliance on technology has accelerated, with the Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index 2020 finding that: “78% of people agree that the Covid-19 pandemic has escalated the need for digital skills.

The Government is supporting the digital direction with investment in essential digital skills which is targeted at adult learners and as a requirement of apprenticeships. With this move towards digital, it’s important to not forget about those young people who we mustn’t assume are already au fait with technology. Those from marginalised groups also may lack the digital skills they need to progress in the workplace such as composing an email or setting up online meeting, something many of us have all had to get better at recently.

We are all on a learning curve and we must take everyone with us. High profile industry sectors like hospitality and retail, where digital reliance is typically limited, have been heavily impacted by the pandemic and were large employers of young people before being decimated by the pandemic and lockdown.

As educators, we owe it to young people to be equally agile and adapt services to be suitable for a new world. We must exercise patience and compassion as the lockdown has affected not only young people’s prospects, but also their wellbeing and confidence.

Success in lockdown

The support for young people and the recognition of the uphill struggle that many will face is an important move by the government. Young people are the future and they are in need of support to ensure that we don’t leave a generation behind.

We’ve heard some fantastic stories of resilience and agility of young people from our customers about their own learners seeing great success in lockdown. Learners from SDConsultancy, a training provider in Scotland, have been using Skills Portfolio during lockdown to ensure that they could still continue with their studies. They have 80 learners on

role and during lockdown, 18 learners have completed their qualifications in spite of the challenges of limited face to face contact.

Sarah, Managing Director of SDConsultancy, said: “During lockdown, we conducted 8 meetings in one day with learners whilst they were at home from the comfort and safety of our eco-friendly office. There is no way this would have been achieved without using an e-portfolio and the dedication of our candidates and apprentices. Covid-19 has definitely made us adapt to a new way of working and although we still need to observe our candidates in action, this lockdown period has been a good opportunity to make the best of our time.”

Support from Skills Forward

We cannot let stories like those from SDConsultancy be the anomaly. They are testament that; when supported by the right infrastructure and technology, visionary educators and their own ambition, young people can continue to do great things.

Our eLearning technology has meant that many providers have been able to continue delivery during lockdown. Skills Builder has supported learners to complete initial assessments in maths and English and the resources have allowed them to continue their skills development from anywhere. Also, we have now launched our initial assessment for essential digital skills, in time for the implementation of the new essential digital skills qualifications. Our e-portfolio has supported learners to upload evidence as they have worked on their qualifications and apprenticeships. It has helped tutors to work remotely, offer feedback and do so whilst in a safe environment.

As we come out of lockdown, apprentices will return to the workplace and they, as well as their employers and the providers, will need to understand their current working at level. 

Skills Review provides an occupational ‘skills temperature check’ at any point in their apprenticeship against the specific skills, knowledge and behaviour in their apprenticeship standard. It can also be used to test gateway readiness.

Additionally, transferable skills from full time education into the workplace or from one sector to another will be essential to young people’s progression. Skills Work is a pre-employment skills test which helps learners to understand their strengths and weaknesses against key employability skills like communication, initiative and personal responsibility. All of which will be of great importance as we adapt to new ways of working.

To speak to the team about any of our eLearning software to support your learners, contact elearning@skillsforward.co.uk, call 0300 102 1023 or you can use the live chat feature on our website.

Read next: Digital inclusion will be essential for our economic recovery

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