Sam Blyth

In just a few months, the FE landscape has changed beyond recognition. Previously full colleges and classrooms have disappeared and in their place we’ve seen a complete shift to distance learning and online teaching. As the government begins to consider a return to in-person education, what role is edtech going to play in the post-Covid FE landscape?

The Slow Return to Normality

Each day it is becoming increasingly clear that a return to life pre-Covid will not be immediate. Practically speaking, classrooms are an ideal breeding ground for the virus and limits on college occupancy and class sizes seem likely, with some reports suggesting that classrooms will be restricted to as few as 15 students. For FE - as with every other educational sector - this poses a real logistical challenge. Institutions will have to reintroduce students slowly in order to facilitate effective social distancing. So, even as a trickle of students begin to return, a good number will still have to learn remotely.

This means that for FE educators and administrators edtech will continue to be a vital component of providing teaching and learning. Although this isn’t the ideal situation, we know from our own Canvas customers just how effective this can be, and just how innovatively tech can be used for pedagogy. 

Where edtech might have been used rudimentarily before by some, this period of enforced digital learning has helped pave the way for a more flexible and blended style of education to be seen as a widespread valid option. Through tech like VLEs and other online learning tools, educators can harness the power of novel and engaging ways to deliver curricula: online discussions, live streaming, peer feedback, interactive videos and incentivised games can all help democratise learning. Just from conversations with our own customers, we’ve seen numerous examples of digital collaboration benefiting students who suffer from classroom shyness and who can be crowded out by more assertive learners, or who are otherwise unable to attend mainstream school. 

Whilst a new found embracing of tech will by no means ‘replace’ the teacher, it will help usher in development of forward-thinking, blended pedagogy. 

Online exams are here to stay

However, even once we are back in the classroom, one remote learning habit might stick around - online exams. With what would normally be ‘exam season’ upon us, Covid-19 has allowed colleges to undertake a massive test-and-learn of remote assessment, and get a sense of whether it could work as a long-term option. 

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For this to happen, students, teachers and administrators had to pull together and be open to doing things a bit differently, which we’ve seen happen up and down the country. And whilst this initial roll-out of digital assessment has not been without its fair share of teething problems, it has had the effect of normalising the idea of online examination for future cohorts. So, once colleges have had the time to implement the right assessment technology that ensures that the digital platform is intuitive enough for examinees, and keeps data-outcomes meaningful enough to direct further learning, we may well see online exams becoming a common feature of future exam seasons.

A boon for adult learning?

It goes without saying that this crisis has affected jobs up and down the country. Across a vast spectrum of sectors, many employees, from directors to apprentices, have been furloughed or made redundant. A recent report from The Open University even found that the skills required for 5 million job roles will change as a result of the current crisis. FE institutions have long been places where adults have been able to gain new skills and progress into new roles, which may mean we see an increase in enrollment going forward.

And it’s not just in-person learning that can support this - those looking to upskill and improve their professional chances in a post-Covid employment market can also do so via flexible, distance learning courses. The boost to technology infrastructure that we’ve seen over the past few months mean that traditional barriers, such as travelling to college and committing inflexible time to classes, have been removed and replaced by courses that can be undertaken around the learner’s pre-existing commitments, whether they be professional or personal. 

Covid’s impact on the fast tracking of distance learning, and the increased need for upskilling, might ultimately have a positive effect on reversing the decline in adult learners that we’ve seen in recent years. 

Covid-19 has re-emphasised the importance of edtech, and made it clear that it must continue to be a priority as we transition back to ‘normal’. In this disruptive period, it’s more essential than ever that students have a continuity within their education, and are able to access learning whatever their circumstances. Keeping remote and online learning options open throughout this transition and into the future is the best way to ensure this.

This crisis has been extremely challenging for the whole education community, but as we navigate our way into a post-covid society we are presented with an opportunity to radically change the further education landscape for the good of students and educators alike. 

Sam Blyth, Remote Learning Expert and Senior Director, Instructure

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KEEPING APPRENTICES ENGAGED...AND FUNDED

Overview In these difficult times it is really important that training providers work with their employers to keep as many apprentices as possible...

  • Tuesday, 14 July 2020 02:00 PM
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Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

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The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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