For 25 years or so the UK’s Joint Information Systems Committee (Jisc) has provided advice and resources to tertiary education providers about how to make the most of all that information technology can bring learning and teaching. Over time Jisc has expanded its remit to support the training sector too. Recently Jisc’s publications provided case studies that describe how Further Education (FE) colleges have used technology in innovative ways to power up teaching, learning and assessment.
A case study selection
An overview is presented in a blog post, Six examples of FE and skills providers delivering effective practice. Links to full case studies, which run to three or four pages each, are embedded in the blog post. The titles of the case studies are:
- Leicestershire Adult Learning Service – Improving students’ experience by increasing independent study
- Swindon College – Getting the most from e-portfolios (this one has an assessment focus)
- Harlow College – Engagement is the key to success (focused on using iPads and apps as a means of promoting engagement and peer-to-peer learning)
- St Helens College – LinkedIn opens up the world of work
- Borders College – Partnering to offer innovative solutions (for which there isn’t a case study yet, just a description in the blog post)
- Bolton College – Improve your service platform (focused on using student data analytics to shape personalised learning experiences).
The case studies follow a consistent format. Take the Harlow College study as an example. It commences with a brief summary explaining how the College provided iPads to every learner, with carefully selected apps already uploaded.
The following section describes the challenge Harlow College set itself, which was to improve its use of blended learning pedagogies to ‘offer a more personalised and effective learning experience for every learner’. The case study then describes in more detail the digital solution Harlow College defined and implemented.
The last two sections of the case study identify in specific dot points:
- the impact of the digital strategy
- key points about digital strategy definition, implementation and maintenance.
The case study for Bolton College is enlightening for the clear way it describes the gathering of information about learners which is:
processed to provide targeted information and services and it is delivering improved pastoral care for each learner through the college’s learning development mentor scheme. Learning analytics is driving rapid improvements in the way that individual learners experience life at college.
The use of data to personalise learning is a wave of change that is certainly coming. From the case study, here’s an example of what’s riding on the wave – note that SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model which pretty much refers to IT standards for e-learning:
In spring 2016, using learning analytics, the college implemented changes to Moodle to make it adaptive, giving teachers the ability to deliver differentiated, contextualised and personalised learning, as well as adaptive assessment. Bolton College has coupled Moodle SCORM packages with the wider dataset at the college. Now, when a learner accesses a SCORM package, Moodle interrogates the student’s dataset, which includes information such as learner ID, course title, previous assessment scores, entry qualifications and more, and determines the most appropriate learning and assessment material to present to each learner.
The online report, The evolution of FELTAG: a glimpse at effective practice in UK further education and skills, includes the case studies listed above and dozens more.