Learning Technology self-assessment tools are OK…

…but it rather depends on who’s ‘ticking the boxes’.

It’s well known that the majority of colleges and independent learning providers are not yet realising the benefits of technology to deliver courses online, or to ‘manage’ learners such as apprentices. This despite evidence that the learning technology available today has already been proven by hundreds of organisations to reduce costs, enhance quality, engage learners and employers and in the case of apprenticeships, put the control back in the hands of management.

But in defence of leadership and management, when it comes to introducing innovative technology or even using what they already have but more effectively, including staff. Most would acknowledge that they ‘don’t know what they don’t know’ and why should they? Tending to be guided by their own staff, technology suppliers or in some cases, rely on information collected by way of a ‘positioning tool’ to analyse its practices and infrastructure. Even though the outcome may be to learn what they already assumed and depending on the ‘adviser’ which of ‘their’ services might be considered the ‘solution’.

Learning technology ‘self-assessment’ tools are all very well, but many of us will recall how many iterations have been before, from ‘eLPS‘ via ‘Generator’, RAPTA and the more recent online readiness tools.

When Coralesce conducted an analysis and evaluation of all such tools, their final report in 2014 indicated that unless the review included the involvement of learners, teachers and managers in the process, it could result in a less than robust approach to self-assessment. Unfortunately, whether or not the tool can be used that way, in practice it is more likely that one manager within the organisation will complete it, which as the report also shows, ‘can reduce the rigour of the findings’.

But experience had already shown Learning Technology specialists, that however ‘clever’ the tool or impartial the subsequent analysis, what comes out will only be as good as what goes in and if those completing the review are the same individuals that already ‘didn’t know what they didn’t know’, then how much progress is likely? I would suggest that after a decade of costly and well promoted self-assessment positioning tools, the fact that over half of the colleges and learning providers, still aren’t realising the benefits of using appropriate technology, should be evidence enough.

It’s one of the reasons that Incentive8 offer a Learning Technology Review, which relies on our impartial learning technology specialists interviewing the managers, staff and learners that actually experience the organisations technology every day. They are the stakeholders that actually know rather than assume what does and does not work, what the barriers are and have their own ideas of what could be more effective, given the opportunity to try. An impartial specialist asking appropriate questions, prompting honest replies and opinion, invariably results in a far more accurate assessment with which to inform management.

That’s the starting point and although the review begins with senior management setting out their objectives, our analysis of feedback from 30-40 stakeholders over one or two days will form the basis of a detailed report and proposed actions. Otherwise the outcome in many cases will be based on self-belief of an individual or two, which as a recent Ofsted report stated of an ‘inadequate’ college, that its self-assessment was somewhat ‘over optimistic’.
The following video will show how we conduct a Learning Technology Review during which we tick a lot of the boxes.

The first step is to tell us what you would like to know via our contact page, an enquiry followed by an online conversation costs nothing, delay tends to cost far more.

Colin Gallacher
Learning Technology Consultant


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