Increasing Learner Engagement During Lockdown

Learners are taking responsibility for their own learning

Learners are taking responsibility for their own learning, working at the pace that best suits them

Blog Post by Stephen Hinde, Community Manager for Ufi VocTech Trust

Learners are taking responsibility for their own learning, working at the pace that best suits them, whilst still receiving the support and guidance they need from their learning coaches. 

Back in March when restrictions were put in place, many organisations had to rethink their operations and how to overcome the barriers introduced by Covid-19. Swift action from one company resulted in a 90% retention rate of learners during lockdown. 

Northern Training Academy (NTA), based in Lancashire, provide apprenticeship services nationally to employers. NTA knew the outline of how they wanted to support their apprentices during lockdown, but it was evident from the start that the answer was not going to be a one-size-fits-all. 

The project that NTA delivered with funding from Ufi was focused in the retail sector and implemented e-portfolios for apprentices, enabling them to take responsibility for their own learning and access learning resources at their own pace. The technology also allowed NTA coaches to access the learners’ portfolios to monitor progress and achievement, and to talk to learners through a learner notepad. 

With all contact and communication now being delivered remotely, there was a need to develop content that work for the apprentices.  

Rather than use just ‘off the shelf’ content, NTA decided to use their own team to develop learning videos. NTA’s strength has long been the relationship between their learners and coaches, and using familiar faces in the videos helped maintain those personal relationships, at a time when all face-to-face contact was restricted. In addition, by using their own team, as opposed to professional speakers, meant learners identified more with the active coaches that NTA employ. 

Multimedia learning offered a more direct and engaging learning experience than traditional textbook training. 

Jo Roche, Managing Director for NTA said:

In the beginning we struggled to understand how we could best connect with our learners whilst they were not at the workplace.  Many of the learners we had connected with after lockdown had been relatively new to technology so we needed to understand what would work for them, bearing in mind possible limitations with technological knowledge and availability.

Thanks to Ufi’s project management support we were able to quickly unpick the issue of this lack of technological understanding and to focus on keeping things as simple as possible to make our project as accessible as possible to our learners.

We needed to understand what limitations there were in the accessing of our e-portfolio system and we needed to ensure that we kept our system simplistic, easy to access and navigate.

Having made this discovery now means that our learners are able to access their learning support materials at a pace that suits them – they are no longer restricted by having to wait for contact from coaches to enable their progression.

Being able to maintain contact with their individual coach through the e-portfolio messaging function means that learners can make more rapid progress than under the regime prior to lockdown. 

Findings from the Ufi-funded project have given NTA more confidence in working remotely with learners – the new normality will be that remote working will be part of their delivery structure.

A year ago, NTA wouldn’t have thought that their learners would enjoy remote learning. They have happily been proved wrong and their delivery processes during lockdown are now being incorporated into their delivery model. 

Jo added:

Three big wins from this project...

Less physical wear and tear on coaches who are spending less time out in the field.

Employers can blend our remote delivery model into their workflow, which reduces strain on business at an already challenging time for many sectors.

Learners can take control and check progress at a glance without losing the ‘human touch’ of contact with coaches. 

Find Out More

To find out more about Northern Training Academy, please visit their website.