Welcome to the September 2021 issue of the Vocational Learning Resources newsletter. This month, we’re focusing on the key findings from Jisc’s 2021 digital experience insights survey for FE learners and what worked and didn’t work for students whilst they were learning remotely. We also have a reminder about subscriptions and VLR top users.
Digital learning in FE: what will stay?
It’s now been 18 months since the pandemic began and the ways in which colleges now deliver learning and teaching are very different to what we were used to in early 2020. Colleges have adapted quickly and have adopted a range of new technologies and resources. But now staff and students are far more familiar with digital resources and the opportunities they offer to enhance the learning experience, what will online learning look like moving forward?
Creating digital communities
In Jisc’s 2021 digital experience insights survey of FE Learners, high numbers of learners reported engaging in live sessions (68%), but fewer students said they had engaged in collaborative online activities.
In order to encourage collaboration online, some organisations are trying to create virtual learning environments that mirror the real world ones. In a recent Education Technology article, some education institutions are creating rooms where students can virtually wander in and out, catch up casually with classmates and find people to study with.
Others have set up virtual office hours so learners can drop in and ask questions or go over any content they don’t understand. These virtual offices are also set up only allow a one to one meeting room and a virtual waiting room for students to wait in. Once the learner is in the meeting room with their teacher, they don’t need to worry about any potential interruptions or distractions from other students.
If you’d like to read this Education Technology article in full, you can find it here. The examples are from US Higher Education institutions but the content and ideas are still relevant for FE organisations.
Breaking down content into bite-sized sessions
Another key finding from the survey was the desire to have lessons broken down into shorter chunks of learning to help ease the physical discomfort of working online for long periods of time and also to help learners maintain concentration.
The idea of creating bite-sized pieces of learning content or ‘microlearning’ has been proposed to help students focus on the most important pieces of information learn and help them build up familiarity with a subject over time as this information can be quickly revisited at regular intervals.
By building in these smaller intervals of learning which can then be repeated on a regular basis, learners are far more likely to develop long term retention of the information, as opposed to cramming large amounts of content before a test or exam before quickly forgetting what they’ve learned.
If you would like to read more on microlearning, you can read the full article here.
Using digital learning content
Tying in with this idea of microlearning, digital learning resources are also here to stay.
Digital resources are a great way to break up learning content into a variety of different experiences to cater to different learning styles. For example, our Vocational Learning Resources include content such as infographics and videos which are an excellent way to introduce a new topic and generate discussion and our quizzes and interactive activities can be used to reinforce what’s been learned. As our resources are non-linear, students can dip in and out of the content and choose their own learning journey.
Want to learn more?
Jisc’s recent blog post What do FE learners want from online teaching? looks more in depth at the key findings from the survey.
To further explore how digital resources can enhance teaching and learning, our Digital Learning Resources in FE Teaching Toolkit covers topics such as using digital resources, the digital learning experience and building your online classroom.
Reminder about subscriptions
Just another quick reminder that our Vocational Learning Resources are now free but do still require you to sign a licence agreement via the Licence Subscription Manager (LSM).
The catalogue page for the VLRs can be found here: https://subscriptionsmanager.jisc.ac.uk/catalogue/2655
Once you’ve signed the agreement, you will receive a confirmation email from us.
If you’ve already subscribed and you’re having trouble accessing the resources, please do let us know by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Top users coming soon
Now we’ve started the new academic year, we are going to start publishing our top users for the Vocational Learning Resources here on our blog site. We will let you know when these have been made available.
If you can’t see your college’s name on our top users list, you can request your log in statistics by contacting us at email@example.com