Is Work Based Learning Fit For The 21st Century?

One year on

12 months ago today I posted my very first article on my new company’s website after choosing to leave Jisc. The article began:

I have been very fortunate to have spent more than a decade dishing out advice, supporting and occasionally nagging, learning providers about the fantastic and often simple technology available to them. But here we are beginning the fifteenth year of the 21st century when I feel the need to make the following observations which may touch a nerve with some, bewilder others and perhaps, just perhaps, encourage a few to reconsider their organisations methods of delivering Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Post-16 education. Particularly in the FE & Skills sector.

Is Work Based Learning Fit For The 21st Century?

Sadly, I could post the same article today as despite an even greater need to use technology to improve quality and in some cases aid ‘survival’, it appears that very few learning providers since that time have seen fit to change their methods, as in ‘we have always done it that way‘. Well we are where we are, but it didn’t have to be. The barriers put up by management and some staff never did hold water and still doesn’t.

We don’t have the money
(what is the cost of doing what you are doing so badly- now?)
Staff don’t have the skills or time to learn new technology (how do you know and who said it takes more time than is already being wasted)
Staff don’t like it (are you sure? will they like being laid off and is that any reason not to put a plan into practice? )

Sorry, I forgot – What plan?

Bury_your_head_in_the_sandThis site is full of articles about how feasible and necessary it is to implement technological changes to improve delivery, track progression, convert paper handouts into dynamic interactive learning resources fit for learners experience in 2016.  We have used these pages and our social media posts to highlight reports from leading figures and agencies on the ‘failings’ or otherwise of colleges and others to improve, engage and track learners which is well known. We now have regular announcements of Learning Providers ‘tumbling’ from ‘Good’ to ‘Inadequate’ grades in just a few years. We have area reviews and potential mergers or closures and yes there are major issues about funding and confusion about the future and despite what is said by public funded agencies that know better but suggest otherwise. Introducing technology will not in itself make good the financial state of any learning provider. Their financial problems are much wider than that. Although few businesses can survive without accurate and up to date information so how some learning providers manage using paper based methods or systems that don’t ‘talk’ to each other, is beyond me.

Even more strange that such organisations haven’t noticed that other colleges or learning providers with similar funding and demographics have proven that it can produce significant savings whilst increasing revenue by raising quality, efficiency,reach of provision and far more and most important of all having real time information, enables leadership and governance to take back control of the business.

There are some terrific examples of Leadership and Governance harnessing technology here.

But we are where we are pretty much where the sector was 12 months ago today, entering another year, the 16th of the 21st century, with more technology in our pockets than imaginable when some of the work base learning practices in use today were introduced. Go figure. Perhaps the coming months will see many more providers climbing off of the technological fence before someone knocks it over.  If you’d like a helping hand off the fence, visit out services page and get in touch.

Colin Gallacher
Learning Technology Adviser

See also: 7 days can be a long time in FE & Skills
Making a silk purse out of an outdated, inefficient…


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