Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Musings on Educational Technology and Learning

Thanks to ALT and CMALT Programme Pages for image 

I was asked by a commercial organisation some questions around where I think technology around learning and assessment is currently and where it might be going .  I was presenting this week too at the Scottish Qualifications E-Assessment Group - so probably good time to share this generic thinking. Think some of CEAG stuff will be shared at a later date. The questions here specifically about work based learning.

What do you recognise as the current, most effective methods in training and assessment?

This is two questions but I think you mean in a formal learning and training setting where assessment is linked to training and competency assessment for regulatory purposes in the workplace.

Is there particular types of training you feel would best suited to deliver through technology, and is there other types you feel should stay the same in the way it's delivered?

It is actually all about cost and efficacy, some things are always best demonstrated in real life - so the skill and assessment at same time , But increasingly simulation will be used for formative assessment - how can AR and VR be used to give candidate experience without cost of running full summative assessment . Been happening for along time in things like pilot training or even container ship skippering - where people spend hours working through simulations both to develop basic skills and to deal with hazardous situations that could not practically be assessed in real life .You are also beginning to see good application artificial intelligence to both guide learners through materials and to assess their capabilities.

Training should be as real as possible and observed and recorded for reflection and evaluation, that should be staying the same.  

What are your reasons for that?

Almost everything that is knowledge and understanding should by now be assessed on line - dependent on nature of content by MCQ , Short answer questions etc - or simply assessed at same time by candidate being filmed performing the task and through this demonstrating they have the underpinning knowledge. This is within all organisation reach. 

What technologies do you use or know of that are in use today to train, develop and assess the workforce?

It is actually all about cost and efficacy, some things are always best demonstrated in real life - so the skill and the assessment at same time , But increasingly simulation will be used for formative assessment - how can Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality be used to give the candidate experience without cost of running a full summative assessment . Been happening for a long time in things like pilot training or even container ship skippering - where people spend hours working through simulations both to develop basic skills and to deal with hazardous situations that could not practically or cost effectively be assessed in real life.

Policy can be real barrier. In England the switch back to End Point Assessment in apprenticeships will actually skew the value of the assessments and have added a lot of cost to the assessment process. 
What are the benefits or challenges with using these technologies?

I've worked as an  independent educational consultant and  in large organisations, I use and appraise regularly a range of platforms and technologies - they all come with own benefits and challenges - the main thing is to pick technology that fits the aims and outcomes of the learning. Make sure it is as future proof as it can be and uses standards that are open. 

For training it's got to be video - at entry level a youtube channel - but you can use lots of platforms , for delivery you need a Virtual Learning Environment  or Learning Management System  - you choose - VLE normal in education LMS in workplace learning - systems have own strengths and weaknesses .  An e-portfolio and reflective approach if done properly along with some MCQs probably the most effective approach for learner - but often regulatory requirements stipulate assessment strategies. 

VLE/ Moodle/ Canvas / Brightspace/ Google Classroom - I am seeing as core currently or relevant LMS Totora , People Soft , Bridge etc in workplace environment 
The main challenge is getting whatever platform embedded in practice - the default for many trainers is still paper and or email. 

Do you know of any future technologies that will enhance training, development and assessment? What are you doing, if anything, to prepare for these new methods?

I am working with City of Glasgow College currently they have the full package of useful platforms that enable on-line assessment and feedback - Turnitin , Gradebooks etc 
We've invested in content Blended Learning Consortium , a platform for video - ( Clickview) , we are working out how to use Google Apps for Education and Microsoft 365 particularly teams in supporting our training.

We train training staff in use of H5P so they can build their own interactive content when they need it and we are working out how to get them thinking about learning design. So the VLE is more than a collection of powerpoints and word documents and 
we  are no longer reliant of a few staff with higher level learning object creation skills. 

We are looking at systems around artificial intelligence - how it can support learner journey , Blockchain - how badges can be linked to certification and verified evidence 
In a College setting we are looking at how we can share more open educational resources - massive open on-line courses may be beyond us - but we have platforms that can do the same. We should have offers for students and the broader community who can't engage with formal education .  Where you can everyone should be giving away learning materials. See Open Scotland Declaration. 

But it does mean we need to get all staff to think about digital learning design - it is more than blended learning or flipping the classroom - you can plan and use new delivery and collaborative learning strategies. - you need to re-think your engagement strategies.  In old money you lesson plans need to be different. Have a look at ABC Learning Design.

What are the barriers to using technology to train, develop or assess staff?  

These get lower all the time but often it is the digital skills of the staff who are being asked to change their delivery skills to a blended one that requires less face to face time. 
Learners in the main lap up being able to learn and be assessed at times and on devices that suit them.

It should leave trainers more time to focus on the learners who are struggling.
In Glasgow not everyone has broadband but most learners have a smartphone ! 

Our Skills Landscape work highlighted a shift towards new, innovative ways of learning including the use of simulation in training.  Do you think there will be a drastic change to the way we learn in the short term (5 – 10 years)?

Yes I do - what is holding things back is probably regulatory environment and the skill sets of training and assessment companies - and to be fair it is still the cost of some technologies,  building a simulation is still expensive and repurposing one - if for instance the assessment rubric changes can be equally expensive - I think we may see some more partnerships with games industry around building and creation of simulations. Or whole area may be rethought Augmented Reality and layering questions and problems over other media is probably more cost effective than full Virtual Reality. 

Have you received feedback from your workforce regarding recent training?  Any comments on what has worked well or what they would change?

A lot of the regulatory  mandatory training is simply bought off the shelf - repurposed slightly - company logo etc and delivered in chunks through VLE or LMS generally its is not very good - but delivers an audit record of those who have read materials and passed assessment - staff find it boring but realise it is a necessity - it should be better than this . As cost of development of materials come down we are creating and developing more materials in house. 
What is working well - re-thinking approaches building closer partnership with Google for instance - see for example 

How do you think we can assure competency using technology? 

Yes,  you certainly can - sampling and all the things you need should now be on line - audit trails , analytics , lots of things that should make both internal and external verfication easier across a very broad range of assessment strategies. And a lot of things I've suggested already - around real practical skills it is hard to fake doing something on video.
For the learner they should have an on-line digital portfolio showing their on-going CPD - 


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