Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Digital Skills , Digital Literacy and Apprenticeship Frameworks

I've been doing a bit of homework today on all things Trail Blazer Apprenticeship Frameworks - picking out specifically the opportunities to embed digital skills and where digital tools can be used in assessment, tracking and related processes.

Wales have already moved to an essential skills framework that includes digital literacy rather than IT as a core component. Based on  Jisc and many otherswork around digital literacy.  I like this piece on Move over ICT

In Scotland we have at the moment : Core Skills , Essential Skills , Skills for Learning Life and Work.

Perhaps it is time, with new apprenticeship frameworks on the horizon  and an all employer training levy about to arrive,  to do a bit of thinking in this space in Scotland too. Is it time to think Digital Literacy rather than Information Technology ?

As a first pass on Document Future of Apprenticeships in England 

Key Sections From Future of Apprenticeships in England 
Page 7 Future of Apprenticeships in England 

• The English and maths criterion has been extended to cover digital skills, to the
extent that Trailblazers are now required to consider whether digital skills should
be built into the standard(s) they are developing (criterion F at paragraph 85).

Page 30 

In this context, “digital” encompasses the very broad set of skills that individuals need in order to
understand, use or create the software and services we all access through devices such as computers,
tablets and ‘smart’ phones.

Page 19 

Criteria for apprenticeship standards
50.To ensure every standard is high quality there are seven criteria that all
apprenticeship standards must meet. These, together with the kind of evidence
needed to demonstrate compliance with the criteria, are set out fully at paragraph 85
but, in summary, a standard must:
A. Be short, concise and clear.
B. Set out the full competence needed in an occupation, so that, on completion,
the apprentice is able to carry out the role in any size of employer across any
relevant sector.
C. Have the support of employers including smaller businesses.
D. Be sufficiently stretching so that it will require at least a year of training (before
the end-point assessment) with off-the-job training accounting for at least 20%
of the apprenticeship.
E. Align with professional registration where it exists.
F. Contain minimum English and maths requirements and any digital skills
G. Only include mandatory qualifications under certain circumstances. 

Page 30 
As a key underpinning skill set, you should also consider whether any digital skills
are required to achieve full competence in the occupation, and include them in the standard if appropriate. 

Delivery Page 51
For all standards, the amount of off-the-job training mandated is a minimum of
20% or equivalent. We expect that all apprentices will benefit from genuine training away from their day-to-day job, but this does not necessarily need to take place away from the employer’s premises. 

EPA = End Point Assessmeent 
Assessment and a Good Assessment Plan Page 71 
• Explain what will be assessed (i.e. which skills, knowledge and behaviour
listed on the standard, and giving more detail if needed).
• Explain how the apprentice will be assessed (i.e. which method or range of
methods will be used at the end of the apprenticeship to judge competency),
• Indicate who will carry out the assessment (i.e. who will be the assessor(s) for
each aspect of the end-point assessment (EPA)),
• Propose internal and external quality assurance arrangements to make sure
that EPAs are reliable and consistent across different locations, employers,
and training and assessment organisations

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Foundation Apprenticeships in Scotland

As part of Developing the Young Workforce in Scotland  Foundation Apprenticeships are rolling out across Scotland following a pilot phase , these will create many  more opportunities for young people in Schools to engage directly with employers and colleges.

 From August 2016 these new qualifications  "Foundation Apprenticeships" will be available in the following subjects and will be available in more schools in more parts of the country.

  • Children and Young People
  • Construction
  • Engineering (energy)
  • Engineering
  • Financial Services
  • Social Services and Healthcare
  • Business Services
  • Software Development
  • Hardware and System Support.

If you work in Education you will see a dignified scramble to get these programmes up and running and learners recruited over the next month or so and Foundation Apprenticeships will increasingly figure in the subject choices available in many schools from this year onward.

These courses will be the bridge between school , college and the workplace that really change the relationship between schools, colleges  and employers.

What are the benefits ? 

The programmes involve a not inconsiderable time either in College or in the workplace. This dependent on programme but could be 2 days per week. So this is not a taster it is the real thing. 
The programmes are designed to both have a knowledge component and a component too of the Vocational workbased delivered qualification that makes up part of the full modern apprenticeship. If positioned well  this will give young people a real head start into a career if they want this,  or at least an in-depth work experience combined with workplace recognised qualifications that they can use to gain casual labour and/or use as part of their College or UCAS application. 

What are the challenges :

They will only work for the learners if schools , colleges and employers work closely together. You can see they may need a customer relationship management system if they do not already have one. 

This is changing the relationship between schools and colleges ; a foundation apprenticeship is not a taster session of the College experience for those with low national qualification grades  as many previous school/college  programmes have been in the past. 
The programmes last two years 4th and 5th  or more likely 5th and 6th year,  given the academic demand of the Foundation Apprenticeships (SCQF6), the same as a higher - the target group of pupils is a different cohort from those who may have traditionally attended College within a school college partnership arrangement. For some Colleges this will involve linking with schools that have not traditonally sent learners to College and/or working with a new cohort of teachers and learners within schools they have worked with in the past. 

The 'Foundation' is in many frameworks the core components of the full apprenticeship and this could be hard to explain to teachers and to learners and their parents. 

There will be some learners who will  wish to take the 'Foundation' but perhaps do not have the necessary National passes to secure a place and may be disappointed not to secure a place on the Foundation programme. 

The progression routes between HNC/D are well chartered,  if not always fully recognised by all universities in Scotland,  the routes from SVQ into HND and Degree are less well mapped out and the system needs to improve recognition of SCQF credit and level here. 

Its the right thing to be doing - but it will be a challenging one for many in the system. Schools will need to be prepared to support learners continuing with nationals, higher and advanced highers while allowing learners time to complete their foundation apprenticeships. Colleges will use their networks to find the employers where the work-based learning component will take place and co-ordinate the reporting of the learners progress - to schools and to parents. 

Young people will enjoy the challenges and opportunities these programmes will bring and the range of progression routes.

Progression for some will be to complete their apprenticeship , for others it might be HNC/D at a College and for others who have completed a Foundation Apprenticeship along with the necessary highers their aim will be University. 

So before I get asked - what is a Foundation Apprenticeship ?  here is part of the answer. 

Acid test,  is that if I had someone who the school was keen to get to re-sit a couple of nationals in 5th year ( but not English or Maths )  and who had an interest in one of the areas above - then a Foundation Apprenticeship would be a good option. 

Friday, April 22, 2016


#OER16 Quick Overview and Some important links for Scottish FE

#OER16 Quick Overview and Some important links for Scottish FE

A quick overview of a superb two days thinking time.

  1. Open Educational Resources for those still wondering what #oer means.
  2. This conference has been going since the inaugural conference at the University of Cambridge in 2010 . It was a great privilege to be once again on the organising committee and chairing some of the sessions this year . This storify captures some of the sessions I attended . The event was supported by the great folks of alt.ac.uk/ co-chaired superbly by twitter.com/LornaMCampbell and twitter.com/HoneybHighton and attracted delegates from 29 different countries to two wonderfully sunny days in Edinburgh.
  3. I am prejudiced but I do think some of our most creative educators are interested in open education. I enjoyed the action-bound challenge and I made full use of the excellent and well organised on-line programme
  4. ActionBound would make a great platform for student induction sessions.
  5. @Catherinecronin did a great job of unpacking the issues around open learning and the digital identity dilemma to being open .
  6. All of the sessions I attended inspired me and showed way forward for all of us in rethnking what education could be . Many of the sessions were recorded you can access them all on the conference web site oer16.oerconf.org There was something for everyone from policy makers to practitioners.
  7. I'll focus here on picking out a few sessions and links that I think further education should tune in to . Every session had something superb wrapped up in it so this is a tough task.
  8. In no particular order and for those teaching computer games development have a look at
  9. RAGE hoping colleges and universities teaching programming or games development tuned in to this #oer16 @EU_H2020  http://rageproject.eu/ 
  10. All of the sessions from Wikimedia offered something for Colleges and adult learners - I can't do them all justice in a post . But Colleges should be using Wikimedia tools not just as reference materials but as active learning tools. Learners should be authoring content for all of the wikimedia platforms
  11. If you haven't discovered DS106 and you teach anything creative then have look - that primary learners all around the world are now doing some of the assigments should tell you something startling.
  12. @jimgroom #oer16  http://ds106.us/open-course/  open course aimed at HE and lots of primary kids do the open assignments .. Tells you something
  13. I am assured that all of the BBC RES and other re-sources will be available to Scottish Schools through GLOW I hope similar thought has gone into how Colleges will access these probably through JISC services
  14. The research and education space (RES) | RIchard Leeming BBC great session on new resources for learning #oer16  https://www.jisc.ac.uk/rd/projects/research-education-space 
  15. I saw a whole new academic discipline open up as David Kernohan set out his thesis on Blogs as now being more accessible, authoritative, accessible and capable of citation than traditional research. All pointing to new ways of evaluating the impact of academic publishing.
  16. Evaluating blog corpus on open education nice work from @dkernohan  now on to semanometrics and citation metrics https://t.co/rI98Nt78jN
    Evaluating blog corpus on open education nice work from @dkernohan now on to semanometrics and citation metrics pic.twitter.com/rI98Nt78jN
  17. Dublin City University student success tool box - give Colleges a range of customiseable re-sources for induction and much more . Every College in Scotland needs access to this . Perhaps one for CDN to have a look at . Available for download from github
  18. These two superb characters - are driving global changes in Educational blogging and content creation SPLOT is just one of a range of tools they demoed splot.ca/about/ watch their session carefully I liked NSCloner which gives teachers any kind of Wordpress blog they want quickly and easily
  19. Check out too how American Community Colleges use OER across the curriculum
  20. And finally if you want a closer to home example check out Edinburgh University open.ed.ac.uk/ Every College should have its own modest ambitions in opening up learning . There are 210,000 learners no longer in Scottish FE . How are you reaching out into your communities and local businesses and offering real support.
  21. If you missed out - think about becoming a member of ALT and/or book your place or better submit a presentation idea to next year's conference
  22. And remember too to read and comment on the Scottish Open Education Declaration !

Monday, April 04, 2016

@A_L_T Scotland: Sharing Stories Enablers and Drivers for Learning Technology in Scottish Education

It is great news that this year's annual ALT gathering will be held at Dundee and Angus College.

The event will run on the 7th of June 2016 10am-4pm 

 The event is organised by the ALT Scotland Members Group

Bringing together Members from across Scotland and allowing an important interchange between those working across education to share current practice and their plans for the future. 

It has been an exciting year in terms of on-line developments in both the Further and Higher Education sectors and I am sure this will be reflected in the proceedings. 

The event is designed to bring together practitioners from across sectors to share experiences of current and emerging practices in encouraging engagement with learning technology, highlighting the key enablers and drivers. 

To help with the organising we’ve set up a Google form for proposals at 


Get your story in and come along and share it with learning technologists from across Scotland. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

#OEPS Forum , Final #Jorum Steering Group , Making An Open Information Age

In the last couple of weeks I've been involved in a number of gatherings all around the open sharing of learning materials and information across the public sector.

A re-current discussion theme -

"What are the key arguments or actions that will encourage senior policy makers in your institution to take a strategic approach to open education resources and encourage  open practice "
And response ;

If our leaders can't see the value in opening up and sharing and prefer that everything is done in silos then it is hard to challenge this. 

The usual fears of senior managers and colleagues around sharing learning materials were trotted out.

Managers fear exposure around the quality of learning resources and fear that copyright may be breached . They dream too of a new income stream from the sale of institutionally produced learning materials .  There is a conflict here - and while they are conflicted between the argument that sharing and collaboration make sense - but our materials are not good enough - and or maybe one day we could sell these teaching materials - they fall back on inaction.

Classroom practitioners share some of these fears and without leadership are worried too that by sharing learning and teaching materials they are making themselves redundant. In many cases they are worried about sharing learning materials across an institution with their colleagues  not just sharing learning materials openly.

I thought it might be worth doing a wee run down on the state of open in Scotland - This reflecting mainly on open educational resources rather than open data and open research and other open practices,

Clear Government Policy

The Government has adopted a Scottish Open Government Licence for publications from Government and their agencies . There are pockets of enthusiasm for open data , open standards and even harder to find for  open educational resources .  But the feeling is still that opening up educational resources is  very much an issue for institutions rather than government policy.

We've been trying to find and without success a Scottish government speaker for #OER16  https://oer16.oerconf.org/ an international conference, this year running in Edinburgh. The reluctance of anyone to talk out aloud around benefits of #OER underlines what is at moment an indifference to shaping policy here.

The Open Scotland Declaration while garnering much recognition outside Scotland remains a statement of ideals, though it  is gaining some traction at institutional level, it has been used a basis for Edinburgh University's recent commitment to open education.

Wales seem more comfortable with open educational resources while England is becoming a fragmented nation of content shop keepers.

National Platforms supporting Open

The government has committed funds to the OEPS project which is  due to complete in June 2017 http://www.oeps.ac.uk/ this is having good impact on practice in the 3rd sector but it is hard to see the impact it is having on the other HE partners or on the FE sector despite the best efforts of the team.

JORUM/ Re-Source  The not well understood and not well enough used platforms for open content are being retired by JISC will be  replaced by a content and app store due to come on stream in June with the  former services being  retired in September . The new platform will have a sharing area for open educational resources as well as a commercial area for re-sale of 3rd party content.

While many believe that permission for publishing to the open web is all that is needed for #oer to flourish I still believe that it needs both curation and support from a broader learning community for #oer to be sustainable. The new content and app store is aiming to be the place for this.

I think too that it is  important that a sharing space exists out with the bailiwick of a single institution.
I am cautious about the success of the TES sharing platform - but it is making progress in being the place to share learning materials. The platform meets the criteria of being in existence , having a user base and being out with an institutional bailiwick . Though deposits here are made by individual rather than by institutions. Perhaps find and sell your wares is the new reality for education.

Support from University/Colleges/ Local Authorities

Edinburgh University , GCU and Leeds - leading charge along with the Open University in having policies and platforms around open educational content.

 But in at least one of these gatherings there were mutterings from English based universities,  they are now in competition , that they and not the public purse invest in their learning materials and they use their learning materials to gain a competitive advantage over other universities and are therefore increasingly unlikely to share learning materials.

Thank goodness they are already mandated to share publically funded research.

Colleges in Scotland while happy to date to share materials through Re-Source have been focused mainly on re-structuring rather than updating their practice . There are some green shoots West College Scotland pioneering an offer of automatically marked free on-line courses.  There are different forms of open.

Colleges across UK are  looking too to closed content consortiums as method of sharing the cost of developing on-line content through partnerships like that established by Heart of Worcester College.

I hope the new content and app store from JISC will reinvigorate the sharing culture.

In Scotland hard to see any sign of local education authorities encouraging teachers to adopt open practice and produce #OER . The Scottish schools intranet #Glow is going from strength to strength and while necessarily closed to protect primary and other young learners it is producing a kind of locked in syndrome around school based resources. There is not an open area for content.

The teachers who are engaged around this tend to be the maverick enthusiasts.  Perhaps no one has noticed that maths teacher Colin Hegarty and others are just getting on with it and garnering global recognition.

It hard to see signs that any local authority in Scotland is likely to adopt the open Leicester model at moment - so ably led by Josie Fraser.

I'll add here at link based session I did on content and content creation across the FE Landscape for a recent webinar on sources of open but mainly commercial content to support delivery .

It does not have to be like this . There is a great opportunity to find out about open educational practice from around the world at #OER16 next month in Edinburgh

Monday, February 22, 2016

New Horizons

I was about to email this around some contacts, who are just catching up with my news ,  but it's not really the open way to do things so I am posting it here too - minus my home address.

Dear all,
I have moved on from the College Development Network and I am looking for full or part-time assignments that can use my skills, experience and networks across Scottish Education, UK and into international vocational education.

For those in the system.  If you have staff who need their eyes opened to the possibilities of new delivery models in a constructive way – I have the skills and contacts to build their confidence to inspire them to  take delivery and learner engagement to a new place.

For those in and around the system;  if you have a project that needs a business case, a product or solution that will support learning or educational institutions in an innovative way, you are searching for the right route to market or you are simply looking for the right partner in the Scottish Education sector then I hope to be able to help.

My personal interests will still focus on  innovation, entrepreneurship, digital literacy with a focus on educators, developing open practitioners , shared services, open education, digital communities of practice, collaborative education and the co-creation of curricula, new forms of assessment – particularly e-portfolios and their role in quality assurance, open badges and new ways of credentialing learning, all things 16+ learning formal and informal and much more.
I have a deep understanding of the policy landscape around Colleges and across the vocational learning landscape across the UK.

In the month ahead I am supporting a webinar from the Heart of Worcester College on a new model of collaborative content creation and supporting the organisation of https://oer16.oerconf.org/ #oer16 at Edinburgh University.

My updated linkedin profile is here https://www.linkedin.com/in/joerwilson

If you have a moment,  I would welcome a recommendation around the work we have done in the past on my LinkedIn Profile.

I look forward to working with you in the future and meeting you on the journey to make education a relevant and a better place for all.

Kind Regards


Monday, February 01, 2016

Who to Follow where to look for the new ?

I had one of these brain dump conversations this morning on Skype that spanned change initiatives , technology,  and the sharing and networking of learning materials among other topics.

I've been around a bit - here is a quick guide to folks that I think are worth keeping an eye on in Scotland and across UK currently.

I hope this is useful and I'm happy to add folks - probably lots of omissions. Surely there is  a useful google.doc or other crowd sourced directory out there by now ?

I've tried to make list one of people rather than organisational accounts.

This with a focus on 16+ learning formal or informal.

First of all who to follow on twitter or to grab an rss feed from their blog.

JISC Folks  are always a good place to start .

For a UK focus - follow

For JISC UK with Scottish angle

For Scottish College staff - harder but try as a starter

For right across life long learning schools/colleges/adult learning and HE


For College News

SQA Tweets

For leading change

I hope this is useful - especially if you are still trying to explain to staff 'what is the point ' of twitter or other social software tools in developing a personal learning network.