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Online FE courses to become 'the norm, not the exception'


All publicly funded FE courses in England will have to have an online element in future as part of a push to make online learning the norm, the government has announced.

Responding to the FE Learning Technology Action Group (Feltag) recommendations, the government said it wants providers to create a “blend” between face-to-face and online delivery.

From September the Skills Funding Agency will introduce an ‘online-only’ funding rate and start supporting ‘online-only trailblazers’ – colleges and other providers – that will lead the push towards a minimum of 10 per cent of online learning in all courses.

In its response, the government said: “We know that online learning and assessment will not be appropriate for all learners and in all circumstances, but where it is appropriate we want to ensure it becomes the norm rather than the exception.”

The government backed almost all of Feltag’s recommendations and encouraged the Education and Training Foundation and digital education charity, Jisc, to use their resources to help the sector, particularly in training teachers to use digital technology.

Launching the response, skills minister Matt Hancock said: “Technology is only part of the solution. It will only work to drive up standards if it is used to challenge and raise expectations. But it has the power to transform and help all young people reach their potential.”

Kirstie Donnelly, UK managing director of City & Guilds, said that while it was “great” to see such a positive response from the government, the response needed to be matched by the necessary investment.

“It’s risky to devolve so much responsibility for this to the Education and Training Foundation and Jisc,” she said. “The government has the right priorities but it must lead from the front to achieve real change, otherwise there is a risk that this momentum will be stopped in its tracks.”

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