Levelling Up Access to Further Education Whitepaper
The Covid pandemic was a digital moment of truth for universities and colleges of Further Education. The vast majority coped brilliantly and adapted with a lot of energy and goodwill. A new whitepaper looks at colleges who tackled the challenges of online learning and moved beyond improvisation to innovation and best practice with a strong link to industry.
The whitepaper charts the experiences of City of Bristol College, South Devon College, Coleg y Cymoedd, and Newcastle College in adopting a technology, platform and curriculum solution to help them skill more learners in web application development to meet the technical skills needs in their region.
Each college had to solve issues relating to physical resources, subject matter expertise and the demand for increased course frequency. While many others were lumbering along with ad-hoc zoom solutions these colleges took a risk on a new delivery model that enabled them to transform course delivery in the same way that fintech transformed banking, and streaming revolutionised the media and music industries.
A risk that quickly paid dividends in terms of increased learner numbers and the flexibility to run multiple enrollments as the delivery is not tied to classroom delivery. The game-changer is a Level 5 Diploma in Web Application Development from Gateway Qualifications delivered using the Code Institute format where platform, technology and pedagogy are one.
Putting Technology to Work
Their experiences are detailed in a new whitepaper, Levelling up Access to Further Education: Using Technology to Skill more Digital Talent. The case studies within it highlight both the individual and common challenges each college faced.
City of Bristol’s Head of Department for Digital and Creative, Pasquale Fasulo, was drawn initially to the rich curriculum and support system before realising the potential to expand the delivery significantly,
“It’s evolved to the point where from January 2022 we’re going to do rolled monthly starts. We will continue to offer support but the approach will be more flexible.”
As each cohort produces software developer graduates within a year it provides a very stable and sustainable pipeline of tech talent for the region.
The strong link between skills and industry along with flexibility of delivery were central to the development of the Code Institute programme as Lee Lindsay, UK Education Partner Manager explains,
“We’re focussed on delivering skills for jobs using a combination of learning at scale technology and qualifications. For colleges, the real benefit of the learning platform comes from the flexibility it affords in terms of how programmes are delivered. But, equally, for learners, the increased flexibility makes it easier to mix upskilling into their already busy work and personal schedules.”
Demand for complex tech skills, both for people coming to further education for the first time and those returning to reskill is growing rapidly. Yet, the pace of evolution within tech often leaves colleges struggling to find the most up-to-date expertise. This conundrum is what piqued the interest of Coleg y Cymoed’s Business Development Manager, Kathryn Bishop,
“Some of these courses are taught by us but for Level 5 software development we lacked the required in-house expertise.”
The college has been running the course for a year now and has gone from 20 to 200 learners in that time.
This is a real indicator of the pent up demand for software development skills, both from an industry and learner perspective, throughout the UK. In fact, the demand has been such that Gateway Qualifications and Code Institute have collaborated on a new level 3 diploma in software development utilising the same combination of curriculum, technology platform and support. This is geared towards Further Education colleges serving adult learners and is being rolled out shortly.
You can read the full case studies covering both colleges’ and learners’ experience of the technology, curriculum and delivery of the Level 5 Diploma in Web Application Development here.
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