We must keep learning technology at the forefront of educational agendas to reduce the risk of the sector moving backwards
– Article attributed to James Earl, CEO of FE Tech
Before the pandemic occurred, the post 16 sector was fraught with negativity about e-learning solutions. Whether that be assessors too nervous to adopt blended learning solutions because they thought it posed a risk to their job, or a sweeping statement and perception that full distance learning students had horrific achievement rates.
Granted, there were organisations who adopted bad practices – but think of a type of provision where there aren’t examples of bad practice.
There were, of course many organisations with a matured e-learning strategy, but as a whole the system was years behind many corporate markets.
Now we seem to be in a transitional phase coming out of the pandemic. With everyone heroically keeping the education system alive with endless online learning and teams during a tough two years – I fear the spill out on the other side could be catastrophic for the ed tech market.
Panic bought edtech systems
Every organisation bought up systems, content and services and through no fault of their own, many purchased them without much procurement and perhaps not fit for purpose for what they were trying to achieve. Making do with 100% online lectures and not blended solutions, emailed assessments rather than assessment systems, Learner Management Systems used by the corporate market for staff training and not a regulated environment.
Dozens of new vendors popped up, start ups, established system providers, all wanting a piece of the market. Heavy on a recruitment drive for sales and operational staff which in turn caused the salary market to heavily fluctuate with anyone that had anything to do with SAAS sales.
What we’re left with now is many colleges and providers coming out of those contracts they were originally tied into, thinking that learning technology isn’t for them – rather than the system or solution they purchased wasn’t quite fit for purpose.
We’re beginning to see this in a number of ways – the slowdown of recruitment in ed tech firms, some redundancies starting to be made with the vendors who attempted to enter the market.
On top of this, the back to the classroom strategy, cancellation of online application forms and many other systems shut down throughout a learners journey in many provisions.
I am certainly not advocating going back to where companies were with system and solutions use during the pandemic, but more to have a fully thought through e-learning and systems strategy, being considered across all provision and each step of the learner and operational journey. This is the only way we will truly keep innovating.
Where do we go from here?
There are many steps that need to occur in order to keep learning technology at the forefront of people’s minds in the sector and here are my top four;
- Hiring the right staff who drive innovation at all levels – not just one job role or a department, a culture only works when everyone understands it, agrees with it and adopts it
- Maintain rules and regulations that allow learning technology to be adopted – through both internal and external processes
- Maintain learning technology in the news – at events and lobbying at the highest level to be specifically included in future funding schemes
- Sharing of best practice – across the sector
The latter point is perhaps the most controversial of the lot.
Why would a college or a provider share what they are doing and how they are doing it with their perceived competitors? There are of course those that do but I don’t feel like they have enough of a platform in which to do it.
As a learning technology enthusiast I feel there has to be a way for the sector to collaborate more, sharing best practice and case studies whilst maintaining and growing their own organisations. I welcome anyone’s thoughts good or bad – after all, it’s a start to keeping the message of e-learning solutions in the headlines.
CEO of FE Tech
An organisation that champions the best e-learning solutions and stories within post-16 education. Membership, advice and guidance free for everyone at www.fetech.co.uk/register
About FE Tech
FE Tech is a website designed to help further education (FE) providers find the right learning technology solutions that are designed for our industry.
The organisation is a community of learning technology product comparison, latest news and trends from industry expert voices which is meaningful for the Further Education sector. It acts as a hub where all learning technology providers can present their products to the right decision makers all in an area that is dedicated to learning technology specifically for Further Education.
If you’re a College, Independent Training Provider, Secondary School or Higher Education Provider then FE Tech can help you to find the right solutions.
Become a member for FREE to get the best offers, latest news and a FREE advice and guidance service from FE Tech here www.fetech.co.uk/register.
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