1. It isn’t just the technology – although the technology is an issue
Access to technology and data is a big issue for those most at risk of being excluded from training. There is a significant equality gap that needs to be addressed urgently. Even where there was greater access, motivation to learn was a big issue. Employers were reported to be unwilling to accept that online training was ‘real’ learning and that perception may a barrier to adoption.
The question our insights raise for VocTech is whether greater use of mobile-first learning is possible. And if so, how do you design and deploy great quality digital learning that doesn’t rely on the latest software or large amounts of data? How can good quality personalization be supported affordably - as one-size digital learning solutions don’t fit all? What can be done to help employers understand the benefits of digitally supported vocational learning?
2. It’s all about confidence
The confidence to be an independent learner came through in most of our discussions and has two main aspects – the confidence to engage online and confidence in digital skills. Issues manifest themselves in several ways, for learners as well as for teachers and trainers, including fear of judgment, potentially chaotic working spaces, peer pressure, and concerns about online safety. Sharing openly online is just not seen as an option for some.
The landscape here is around supporting learners, whatever their personal and learning needs, to experience VocTech and blended learning in a way that is supportive and non-threatening. Developing resources or strategies to enable learners to become more independent becomes a priority and understanding how VocTech and emerging technologies can enable access for those with additional learning needs now becomes more urgent.
User design also needs to take account of the experience of the teachers and trainers, who facilitate that learning.
3. Digital skills are key to engagement
The second part of the confidence issue is digital confidence and goes across all actors in the learning and development space, not just learners. There are big issues for teachers/trainers, learning and development professionals, and managers across the piece – employers, training providers, FE. And a willingness to disclose a lack of digital skills is an issue.
The landscape here is around stepping back from our current assumptions of competence and finding ways to engage, inspire and motivate people to develop those skills and/or to make them well known and widely available.