Monday, June 05, 2017
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
I had a moment or two this morning to try out Lumen5 what a cool tool - but I hope you pick up the key messages as well as learning about this new medium
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
|Thanks to https://unsplash.com/@heftiba for this image|
Education and Skills is thankfully a devolved issue in Scotland and we have our own levers and our own challenges in making Education and Skills in Scotland reflect the needs of Scottish learners, employers and broader civil society. And thankfully education and training is still viewed in the main as a social good across the political spectrum in Scotland.
But it is worth having a keek over Hadrian's Wall as large UK employers will have an appetite or at least will question the Scottish institutional response to some of the broader English reforms around Further Education and Vocational Skills Reform.
Some of these policy commitments could have big implications for Scottish training providers operating in England and for FE Colleges in Scotland trying to hold on to training contracts from English based organisations.
In amongst all of this there are some good ideas, from both sides of this political divide. Some of these ideas might even creep north of the border but only the good ones, I hope.
The summaries of Labour and Conservative Manifesto's as reported by The Federation of UK Awarding Bodies appear below along with links to the full party manifesto.
Labour Party Manifesto
- Labour would introduce free, lifelong education in FE colleges, enabling everyone to upskill or retrain at any point in life.
- Labour would abandon Conservative plans to once again reinvent the wheel by building new Technical Colleges, redirecting the money to increase teacher numbers in the FE sector.
- To implement Sainsbury’s recommendations, we would correct historic neglect of the FE sector by giving the sector the investment – in teachers and facilities – it deserves to become a world-leading provider of adult and vocational education.
- Labour would restore the Education Maintenance Allowance for 16-18 year olds from lower and middle income backgrounds
- Labour would replace Advanced Learner Loans and upfront course fees with direct funding, making FE courses free at the point of use.
- Maintain the apprenticeship levy while taking measures to ensure high quality by requiring the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to report on an annual basis to the Secretary of State on quality outcomes of completed apprenticeships to ensure they deliver skilled workers for employers and real jobs for apprentices at the end of their training
- Set a target to double the number of completed apprenticeships at NVQ level 3 by 2022
- Cover apprentices’ travel costs, which currently run to an average of £24 a week – a quarter of earnings if apprentices are on the minimum wage.
- Roll out of T Levels with an average of 900 teaching hours per year and a 3 month work placement. No specific mention of or timescales licences etc.
- Repeated commitment to create 3 million apprenticeships for young people by 2020.
- A UCAS-style portal for technical education
- Commitment to establish skills as a key part of the "modern industrial strategy"
- £250 million investment in skills by the end of 2020 from the National Productivity Investment Fund
- Double the Immigration Skills Charge levied on companies employing migrant workers, to £2,000 a year by the end of the parliament.
- Ensure that the skills and qualifications gained by members of the armed forces are recognised by civilian employers
- New institutes of technology, backed by leading employers and linked to universities, in every major city in England. They will provide courses at degree level and above, specialising in technical disciplines, such as STEM, whilst also providing higher-level apprenticeships and bespoke courses for employers
- Employers still "at the centre of these reforms" with Skills Advisory Panels and Local Enterprise Partnerships working at a regional and local level.
- Discounted bus and train travel for apprentices
- A new right to request leave for training for all employees.
- A national retraining scheme - the costs of training will be met by the government, with companies able to gain access to the Apprenticeship Levy to support wage costs during the training period.
- A right to lifelong learning in digital skills.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
#oereumt UNESCO Regional Consultations for 2nd World #OER Congress 2017 #openscot #digitaldifference
Interview with Joe Wilson
Spotted that the papers and all the sessions from the UNESCO #OER Regional Consultations are now up - if you are interested in this important global dimension of learning really worth having a good dig around. You can get all the key notes here and if you don't already know about Video Lectures as a platform worth having a look at that too.
Here is me caught on one of the coffee breaks on a sunny balcony over looking Valletta harbour.
Shout out to https://twitter.com/LornaMCampbell whose work I plugged in session but is not mentioned in this edited version.
Main lessons coming out of sessions
1. Open Educational Resources is a subset of Open Practice
2. That countries need quite clear competency frameworks around digital literacy for learners and for those who work with learners ( teachers , lecturers , trainers , librarians , community education workers , GLAM workers ) which includes an understanding of Creative Commons , open licensing and how to create, publish , find and re-purpose open educational resources and embed this in their practice.
3. That to move on both digital skills and open educational practice there needs to be some quite clear policy drivers - not sector by sector - but from government. To be really effective this can't be from Education Ministry alone it should be seen in broadest context to get both civil society and industry engaged, they all have things that they can share openly to support learning. But Education Ministry is a good place to start.
4. That there does need to be some sort of technical infrastructure a national repository or another suitable aggregation, tagging , discovery tool as a means of finding and tracking openly available learning materials
Remember too where ever you are in the system you can just share your own learning materials with an appropriate creative commons licence . You don't have to wait for permission to innovate.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
I had the opportunity to present to the #FELTAG FE and Skills Coalition in London this week on the challenges I see around the vocational reform programme in England and the opportunities emerging from this. I will not rehearse them all here but will offer a short summary.
I think the system is becoming comfortable but needs more challenge around delivering 20% of apprenticeship programmes off the job. There is still room for more innovation around on-line delivery. Training organisations unused to classroom delivery need most support here in shaping innovative on-line offerings.
The main challenges lie around how to manage the movement of learners through programmes and towards end point assessement without the scaffolding of the unit based qualifications that existed in previous frameworks. There is an opportunity here for open badges and other forms of micro-credentials. You can see City and Guilds and the other former awarding bodies that operated in this space positioning their delivery systems to supply learner content and step by step assessments that are supported by open badges.
Managing learmers progress is a mechanistic challenge too. Many frameworks require the collection of on-going evidence to be presented at end point assessment. The system as a whole needs new approaches to e-portfolios that better support learning and development. The previous vocational system was over reliant on checklist based systems while the systems that are used in Higher Education are too aimed at deep reflection against very broad outcomes. The ideal system for the new apprenticeships lies somewhere in the middle - twinned with an reliable virtual learning environment for learner delivery and tracking. This to allow trainees, employers, training providers and End Point Assessment providers a window on the progress of the learning. Trainees need to be highly confident that they are ready for end point assessment.
For providers there is still a challenge around making sure that there is a consistency of decision making and reliable quality control both around delivery and in decisions about predicting gradings.
Grading is a new concept in this area of training. There needs to be greater transparency around the quality assurance mechanisms for End Point Assessments. Candidates and training providers need clear guidance both around understanding the pass/fail criteria and the grading criteria in many frameworks.
There remain some gaps - some of which might have been held up by the general election. I think many observers were anticipating the publication of a new set of digital competency standards around digital literacy to be published in England. This to form part of the underpinning essential skills for apprenticeships. There is already a new framework in place in Wales.
There remain too some deeper structural challenges that need tidied up by the new Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education. Some standards and assessment standards are not fit for purpose though published and approved. Probably best exemplified by the diminishing but still stubbornly high list of frameworks with no end point assessment body. This is still a potential crisis needing averted. The offer for non-levy paying employers still seems unclear and will stop many SME employers engaging with the programme. I think too the cost of end point assessment may act as a deterrent for both employers and employees in achieving fully qualified status.
From a Scottish view point
As someone with a lot of experience of this sector in UK and internationally I understand the English drivers for many of these changes - but I don't agree with many of the reforms. I think the system should be rightly very anxious about the next wave of changes in trying to shoe horn vocational delivery towards 15 strands. Yes, they do things like this in New Zealand and in other vocational systems but not in the manner that is being attempted in England.
I wish the term UK Vocational Reform Programme was used less - in what is in essence and practice an English Vocational Reform programme.
But I am jealous about some of the high level movement and thinking going on.
On the data side, the willingness to make more use of the Universal Learning Number ( we have had this in Scotland since the 1970's, the Scottish Candidate Number, but have never fully exploited its utility around reporting learner progress through all of our learning system) The work around both the Individual Learning Record and the Individual Learning Plan with that focus on how the system supports and pushes on the performance and achievement of the learner so that centres are not rewarded for simply allowing the learner to mark time is something the Scottish system should be exploring. Yes, it does take some learners longer than others to achieve but system should be working to understand this. It will be interesting to see how the final link to HMRC shows a clear link to income and productivity. Would be great to see some of these approaches in Scotland.
We have data and some of these tools but have lacked the willingness and ambition to join this data up in Scotland.
I like too the grading of apprenticeships - as will employers and apprentices - but I think you can achieve this without the cost and disruption of End Point Assessment.
I like too the broader ambitions of the graduate apprenticeship programmes in England . In Scotland we are doing these targeted at areas where there has been a lack of flexibility from the Universities and a latent demand from industry. In England you are doing this too but also building a rich set of alternative pathways into the professions like law and accountancy. This will really close the academic and vocational divide.
Finally I like the innovation around delivery and assessment that has been driven by both the FELTAG coalition and by the changing landscape shaped by the vocational reform programme. There is a greater sense of urgency to adopt new delivery methods and drive up the technical capacity of centres and teaching staff in English Colleges and training providers. We do have some excellent practice in Scotland but it is more distributed. Jisc and other have been doing a great job in supporting centres through this period of change .
I'll do a follow up post on the growing list of support available for centres in this new landscape.
Friday, April 21, 2017
I spotted this company some years ago while working at SQA since then they have done well in establishing both a Scottish and an international footprint for their innovative English language learning materials . Their voice recognition software to support English language acquisition and development is particularly innovative and effective.
Ann the CEO has drawn my attention to their latest development. I think there are some real benefits to explore here for Colleges willing to partner with Klik2Learn.
I think Colleges and ESOL training organisations across the UK will be interested in this.
I'll let Ann explain the rest ....
I’m dropping you a note to let you know that there’s a small window of opportunity (till 4th May) to buy licences for our SQA –endorsed intermediate ESOL course, ‘Journey 2 English’ at a substantial discount – up to 85%. The course is being used in a number of FE colleges and Councils throughout the UK.
You can also pre-order the course many people have been asking us for – ‘Journey 2 Basic Skills’ which combines basic literacy, numeracy and English at beginner level – A1/A2.
You’ll find all the details on this link to our campaign: http://kck.st/2nDg62y
where you can help support the development of the beginners’ course and receive licences for the intermediate course to use now, in return. There’s even an option to have a bespoke promotional video for your college.
If you’d like further information, feel free to contact me by email: email@example.com
Thanks for reading this far!
Thursday, April 20, 2017
I keep being asked what I've been up to, or what I've been doing - here is a whistle stop tour of some of the highlights. Thanks too to all my connections and friends across FE/HE/Schools and Work-based learning in Scotland , UK and internationally for harnessing my enthusiasm for learning and keeping me busy, by making full use of my breadth of experience, expertise and network.
If you follow this blog or keep up with my linkedIn profile or follow me on twitter you'll see what I get up to. Learning and development is an open activity ;-). You can still make a living outside but alongside the institutional atriums'. I liked this post from an old friend Eylan Ezekiel on the life of a freelancer.
There are still too many closed minds around, too many folks chained to the iron rice bowl, and not prepared to think out of the box or challenge the established orthodoxies or speak to those who wield power, but who often have little understanding of skills delivery in FE and or the development needs and motivations of those who work in vocational training sector. These folks are often badly in need of sage advice. You can break the chains, keep smiling and make a positive contribution. (Chained to the Iron rice bowl is analogous of prisoners within a system, who just keep their heads down no matter what changes are instigated as they know any challenge to the orthodoxy will cut off their food supply - this from a senior colleague still working within education policy circles)
Recent substantive assignments - I can't list them all here ...particularly all the events I've talked at or chaired over the last 18 months.
Whitepapers and webinars for international VLE suppliers to support entry in UK educational and vocational marketplaces. Example
Evaluation of the Socio and Economic Impact of Massive Open On-line Courses with recommendation for future development models ( client global UK University with courses on Coursera, MitX , and Futurelearn) Enjoyed working for Edinburgh University.
Bid writing and partnership building for a public tender for national on-line testing system for schools (client global e-assessment provider in need of curriculum advice to tailor product for UK market)
Papers , Workshops and Advice developed and delivered for JISC for Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. This spanned - advice on creation processes to enable digitisation of the national occupational standards development process , advice the creation of trailblazer standards to ensure that they are open to on-line and blended delivery , guidelines to encourage the creation of assessment standards to encourage best use of digital technology in assessment delivery and quality assurance, suggestions on better use of data management and the on-line rather than paper certification of apprenticeships, this for the UK Vocational Reform Programme in England. ( client Jisc) I do think we are missing some tricks around how to make best use of the Employer Levy in Scotland and will keep trying to be heard.
Advice too on the adoption of suitable new standards for digital literacy for learning, life and work. Based around the excellent work of Helen Beetham and Jisc and in line with the new essential skills framework developed in Wales. ( For various clients )
Identification of suitable international consultants for design and delivery of range of international vocational learning projects for a range of clients including large UK based awarding bodies for assignments in Middle east , Africa , China and within Europe.(clients international consultancies and international awarding bodies)
Advice and support for organisations around the SCQF Credit and leveling and the sourcing of credit and leveling services. ( international awarding body)
Partnerships and introductions around content development , campus apps , the development of digital learning spaces and associated innovative thinking for relevant Colleges and training providers. ( range of providers and clients )
Workshops for senior management teams - trying to find routes ahead for service delivery and for staff development in an increasingly on-line and cloud based world of learning.( Colleges, training providers and in company sessions) I'd like to do more of these. There are far too few open practitioners in Scottish Further Education and it is a poor reflection of the innovation and great teaching practice that I know exists.
I am enjoying the continued challenges : as Board Member of Youthlink Scotland , ALT as Co-Chair in Scotland and as a Board Member at Glasgow's Kelvin College.
As Co-Founder of Open Scotland I continue to support any initiative encouraging the open sharing of learning materials , collaborative learning and the development of teaching staff and learners' digital skills and I am looking forward to contributing to Scottish Government's Information Literacy Community of Practice as an adviser.
This year I supported #oer17 and the UNESCO Global Consultation on #OER as a chair and contributor. Thanks to the generosity of ALT and UNESCO for their invitation and support..
I still feed back where I can opportunities for Scottish FE , to individual colleges and to organisations I have worked for in the sector. The focus needs to get back on to innovation in life long learning.
It's been a fun 18 months and if you need to drive real change in your organisation along with your staff ( driven with them not at them or over them ) and or have an interesting project that is around collaborating and improving the lot of learners in Scotland, UK or internationally and above all you are positive and fun to work with - I'm always on the look out for my next gig.