I have to say that when I first came across FELTAG, I was really excited. Working for years in UK Further Education I was waiting patiently, like many in eLearning, for a structure that would enable us to really explore the efficiency and quality gains that good, well designed eLearning should afford.
FE has had an interesting history with eLearning but I came in shortly after the NLN materials, and then the heady days of new build and rotating project funding for MoLeNet, the Technology Exemplar Network etc. Then the crash came, and for a short while we looked seriously at eLearning for efficiency, not just for fun (AKA student experience). And then, nothing. Competing and conflicting demands from OFSTED, awarding and funding bodies have made it too complex to work out what a “guided learning” hour could be, so we take the safe route and say it is a teacher in front of a class in a room on our campus.
Some people involved in FELTAG seem to think that FE is responsible for the sector’s lack of progress with eLearning, and in some colleges this may be true. However, a quick look at the JISC case studies shows that this isn’t the case everywhere. There are many innovations across colleges and in all curriculum areas on display, but regulation prevents many curriculum innovations from having their full potential realised.
So, after this, what do I think FE needs from FELTAG?
- Freedom for teachers to work together and develop models that work for our students
- An understanding that the majority of 16-19 FE students have a very different experience of learning than HE and different motivations to adult learners
- Honesty about the fact that, although we need to focus on a “digital future”, the government is likely to further cut FE funding and long term eLearning will be more cost effective
- Time to work on recommendations ourselves before making the sector more open to the private sector
- An understanding that content based eLearning probably will not create good learning experiences in terms of ROI, but activity, community and collaboration could
- A sensible but sophisticated framework to guide the best possible development of eLearning activity, but based around evidencing learning progress and personalisation
- Provision of cross sector support from organisations such as Jisc
- An understanding that nobody can currently predict exactly what real eLearning in FE will look like and a new regime of regulation will only stifle innovation again
- And the biggest thing we need is the time to prepare for this effectively
Read about the response on the West Suffolk College Academic Technologies Blog.