If Not Now – When?

Might be a good time to bring your processes into this decade

I realise that this is same old stuff that I have espoused previously, but in the same week that we had an election and Learning Providers returned to their office to discover (surprise, surprise) that the impending changes and cuts to FE Funding hadn’t gone away. I was contacted by three different organisations, each with variations on the same theme of ‘getting away from paper.’ Oh dear!

In all cases these are people that are more than familiar with the benefits of using technology and in some instances technology was being used, but not in a cohesive way and certainly not in a cost effective way. So whilst the Apprenticeship places are expected to grow with ring fenced funding and the rest of FE & Adult Learning are bound to take a bigger share of punishment. It comes as no surprise that some Learning Providers are finally looking inward to address their inefficient, costly methods of managing learners. The only surprise is that it has taking so long for these individuals to overcome the barriers inherent in most Learning Providers. To be fair, all three are looking at efficiency rather than cost saving, I suspect that at this early stage of consultation that their respective managers still assume technology will cost lots of money. Well it might, but the savings are already proven.

Paper based PortfolioFor those that are still thinking along similar lines then here are some examples of savings from a few Learning Providers that introduced an ‘effective’ (not all the same) ePortfolio and have since gone from strength to strength.

Several years ago a College thoroughly researched then took the plunge introducing a particular ePortfolio across all sectors. Twelve months on and they were able to measure the cost benefits which showed savings in the order of £30 per learner against the paper based portfolio and that was only for the paper and disposables.

Some ePortfolio suppliers have an ROI calculator to put your own figures in and based on a scenario of 10 assessors, one calculator show savings of over £40,000 per year. Another eP supplier estimates savings of £150,000 based on 500 learners. All of which will vary depending on individual circumstances, but not by a lot, try it yourself. But I wouldn’t take anybody’s calculation for granted unless it was from a Learning Provider that has earned the ‘T’ shirt, such as presented by a rather large Learning Provider recently:

Return on investment:

  • Paper Portfolio Time/Cost Cancelled Out
  • Postage Cost Reduction of 40%
  • Printing Cost Reduction of 50%
  • Remote Visits: Average Savings of £45
  • Caseload Increased by 20%

With 5 more slides demonstrating quality improvements, how could it not be?

calculator-385506_640There are dozens of case studies available showing similar benefits, but of course this isn’t just about cost savings it has a lot more to do with efficiency, improved learner and assessor experience etc. But if that’s what it takes for senior management to get their head out of, wherever it is, then give me a call and I would be happy to point you and them in the right direction.

These are challenging times and there is little that can be done about what is already legislated for, but introducing proven technology would certainly be a contributory factor and far more effective than laying-off the very staff that are core to any business.

Footnote: In a former role, I presented a business case for ePortfolio to a strategy group at a large college. The group included many who were anxious to take the project forward and so included the VP responsible for making the final decision. Key to the presentation was showing the findings of the aforementioned college in great detail. The cost of their traditional portfolio, just for paper, folder, inserts, printing etc. etc. at about £64 per learner, against the cost of a decent ePortfolio £30 per learner. I interrupted the subsequent discussion pointing out flaws in what was being argued. The VP turned to me and said “You don’t seem to understand Colin we have 1000 learners, that means £30,000. We don’t have that sort of money to spend”

I hesitated, looked around the group, some of whom expressed as much bewilderment as I and eventually said “Perhaps you might find it from the £64,000 that you are currently spending on stationary”.

It’s not easy, but it is do-able.

Colin Gallacher
Learning Technology Consultants



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