Adult education providers offer adult learners the chance to develop new skills and knowledge around their existing commitments, such as work or raising a family. It can take place in a specific adult learning setting such as a college, in the workplace or remotely (especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic), and Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) such as itslearning are helping adult learners to get the most from their educational experience.
We explore how a VLE can make a difference in adult education and to local authorities by looking at the case study about Wiltshire Council and their journey toward blended learning with itslearning – read on to find out more.
The implementation of itslearning at Wiltshire Council
Wiltshire Council’s Adult and Community Learning team decided to move to a blended teaching and learning model through the implementation of itslearning as their VLE. Rowena Prentice has been involved in adult skills provision for 10 years and led the project at the council.
Before the implementation and the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the council had no kind of VLE, and all community learning courses (such as maths, English and IT) were delivered face to face to small cohorts of adult learners in places such as schools and community venues.
During the pandemic, one of the challenges for the council was that learners weren’t wishing to engage face to face. Also, a large majority of learners had their children off school and therefore wouldn’t have been able to attend lessons due to lack of childcare and there was also a general apathy towards learning due to lockdown and the impact on learner’s households.
At that point, Rowena and her team recognised that they needed a digital strategy and online solution to overcome the issues they were facing, and they needed it quickly. So, after doing some research on Google they came across the itslearning platform.
For them, they needed to ensure that the solution allowed learners to have independent IT access as opposed to requiring the council to set up an email address for them, they wanted something engaging and interactive. It had to be compatible with Microsoft Teams too, which they had just started using, and it also needed to be accessible to learners on smartphones.
“We had a lot of questions which we compiled into an email the itslearning consultants. They responded to us that same day, giving us the reassurance that everything we weren’t sure about was achievable within the platform, so at that point we made our decision to move forward.”
The VLE procurement process
Further on, Rowena held a meeting to discuss the terms of business, and she then had to work through a procurement process before the itslearning VLE could be implemented.
After completing an asset change request form, the procurement team identified that because the cost of buying into the platform over four years came in at below the council’s threshold for their internal three-quote requirement, just one quote from itslearning was sufficient to move things along.
Finally, Rowena had to complete a record of officer decision form with approval from a senior manager, as well as an IT security evaluation before she was given the all-clear to proceed.
Speaking about her experience of the procurement process, Rowena said “We worked through an implementation plan which itslearning put together and very clearly outlined dates and times, as well as the people responsible.
It also referenced people attending meetings and what was covered in each of these interventions to get us from just signing the contract to ready to deliver, so that took place through June 2020.”
How adult education and community learning can benefit from having a VLE
For Wiltshire Council, having the reassurance of an experienced organisation like itslearning has helped to make the implementation of a learning platform a success, as they have had support whenever it’s been needed.
Rowena added: “In terms of the support that we get, any issues that arise are always very quickly responded to. Our relationship with the itslearning account manager has maintained and we meet regularly, sometimes it’s once a month but sometimes it’s once a week. We can also email questions directly to a pedagogical consultant, he will still step in to help us with particular issues, and we can also raise a ticket via email to the support team and they are generally pretty responsive.”
In addition, other benefits for the council have been:
- The opportunity to set up digital support sessions to help learners navigate the platform.
- Having flexible options for attendance so if a learner isn’t able to attend a given session on a given week, tutors will arrange a one-to-one catch-up with them the following day or later that same day, something which wasn’t possible with face to face sessions.
- Their attendance has actually increased to around 85 learners attending sessions, compared to an average of around 73 at the end of 2019.
- Tutors have utilised the new technology to provide a range of different resources to learners.
Summing up the benefits for their adult learners, Rowena also said: “One learner said that she found it was really great to be able to actually do her learning virtually with a tutor rather than having to learn by herself reading information.”
In the following video, James Bruton, Digital Learning Team Leader at Bristol City Council, talks about his experience with the implementation of itslearning VLE and how they migrated from their previous platform, Google Classroom.
itslearning for Adult Education and Community Learning
At itslearning, we work with adult education providers to help them create an effective learning environment for their students, especially during these times with COVID-19. If you would like to realise your vision for education excellence at your institution, get in touch with our team today.
In just 15 minutes learn what a VLE is and how it can benefit teachers and students at your institution.
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