“No matter who you vote for, the Government always gets in”

How quickly an election comes around when most individuals and organisations are still dealing with the current policies. Suddenly along come a whole new lot of manifestos for us to choose from and this time with education and in particular apprenticeships featuring highly by all main parties. Each vehemently pledging more quantity and quality in the usual politician style of ‘We will do it better than they will’ which in my youth was expressed as ‘My dad’s bigger than your dad!’ so I find it difficult to take it too seriously, actions will tell.

Polling_station_6_may_2010But however we judge the rhetoric, the headlines are that the Tories have a target of three million apprentices, as apparently they created two million in this parliament ‘so let’s go for it’. The Lib Dems join the apprenticeship numbers race with a pledge to double the number of businesses with apprentices at least acknowledging that you can’t have one without the other, (which is a novelty) and Labour state that they will increase the number of apprentices whilst introducing technical degrees and scrapping level two apprenticeships – as they want all apprenticeships to be level three and above, or possibly not, as it is no longer in the manifesto (something we said perhaps?). It’s all very volatile and having read each one, or at least the sections on education, I can’t say I am any the wiser and the poll card still doesn’t have a ‘none of the above’ panel.

So what has this to do with technology in Post-16 education? Well, the situation on the ground today is that most learning providers are not using technology to help manage current, let alone future issues and about the same time as the manifestos were released, yet another report was published on using technology to improve efficiency. The report is part of City & Guilds initiative ‘to explore ways to save time and money, increase productivity and attract more learners and employers.’ In my opinion, the findings merely endorse, albeit very well, that which has been reported repeatedly for more than a decade, most recently FELTAG and more comprehensive and likely to be effective as it was initiated and endorsed by government.

Techno-logic_Report png.ashxBut as an example, the City & Guilds report states that 80% of those surveyed, believed that the key benefit of using an ePortfolio is that it allows greater visibility of student progress. Of course it does and has done since early 2000 when I first used ePortfolio in a college. What the report doesn’t say is that it is estimated that less than 30% of training providers actually have or use an ePortfolio effectively. Further ‘findings’ reflect the usual barriers to change. Barriers which I find bewildering as each can be overcome quite easily when set against the prospect of jobs being lost as financial constraints and regulation bite further. Many learning providers are managing apprenticeships and vocational courses using processes introduced in the 80’s, or to put it another way, several governments ago.

As a fully paid up voter of some 50 years it seems to me that whatever happens on May 7th, the learning provider will still be dealing with the same issues of funding cuts, rising costs and delivering quality on May 8th and thereafter. Engaging with appropriate technology in a structured way will not take that away completely, but many have proven that it can make a difference, whatever the government in office.

So what next? Well apart from voting at the election and hoping for the best. You could do worse than to read some of the other articles published on this site, talk to learning providers that have taken back control of their provision. Ask for help through these pages (via our contact page) as an initial conversation cost’s nothing, I doubt that you will need a report to tell you what you probably already know, although you might need some help to put it into practice. I doubt it will get easier any time soon regardless of who is in power.

Colin Gallacher
eLearning Adviser

See: City & Guilds techno report
Government response to the FELTAG report
What is an ePortfolio?

FELTAG eportfolio webinar staff development

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