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Tech report says half of all FE learning should be online within three years

All publicly-funded FE courses in England should have half of their content online by the 2017/18 academic year, a technology review has suggested.

In a draft document published this week, the government’s FE Learning Technology Action Group (Feltag) says that it is vital the sector keeps abreast of rapidly accelerating technological change.

It recommends that from 2015/16, all publicly-funded learning programmes should have at least 10 per cent of their content wholly online, with incentives to boost this to 50 per cent by 2017/18.

The report says the entire FE workforce must be “brought up to speed” to fully understand the potential of learning technology, with “significant investment” in their knowledge and skills.

The FE funding system should fully support the adoption of new digital technology and learning methods, and should start encouraging “learning presence, not physical attendance”, it recommends.

It points to the use of remote teaching via webcams, video "masterclass demonstrations" and massive open online courses (MOOCs) as examples of learning that don’t require learners and teachers to be in the same place.

The new approach should also be monitored, with all providers having a learning technology strand in their teaching, learning and assessment strategy, which will form part of Ofsted's inspection framework.

Feltag member Bob Harrison, who is also vice chair of governors at Barnsley’s Northern College and an education adviser at Toshiba Information Systems, said: “This is an attempt to 'nudge' the culture of the FE system further towards a digital future and shake it out of its analogue past.

“FE was predicated on the industrial revolution and designed to meet the needs of that world. The world has changed, but the FE system is struggling to keep pace.”

Earlier this week vocational education body City & Guilds said the FE sector should be “bolder” in its use of technology.

In a report, it said the sector should embrace a “culture of experimentation”, with teachers developing new methods together with students.

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