Apprenticeships remain a hot topic at the moment, particularly in the wake of the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic which has unsettled the status quo of how training and learning is approached and delivered.
Apprenticeships in particular rely on effective teaching to communicate practical skills and knowledge, and so can be particularly challenging to deliver, both in “normal” circumstances where a training provider may not always be physically present, and especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of learning technologies that are necessary to secure outstanding apprenticeship delivery in today’s world:
Learning Management System/Virtual Learning Environment
This is perhaps the most important element! The best way to deliver, track and report on your learning performance and outcomes is with the use of a Learning Management System (or LMS), which is a repository for all learning. A Virtual Learning Environment (or VLE) is a method of presenting resources to learners which encourages them to drive their own learning - all VLEs will have an LMS in the backend, but all LMSs do not have VLEs.
Engaging UX design and features
It is important to consider the learners that will be using your LMS, and how easily they will be able to navigate and interact with your chosen solution. Open eLMS, for example, which is designed to be universally accessible, uses a Netflix inspired interface which replicates products your learners are likely using in their own time.
All LMSs will hold learning resources, but it is important to be aware of what resources are supported, and the flexibility with which they can be catalogued. Generally speaking, more resource types will create a more interesting varied and engaging experience for learners, as well as allowing you to take advantage of content created by others, such as YouTube videos.
How do you plan to procure learning content? Pre-built, bespoke or self-built? Authoring tools allow you to create your own elearning for use by your apprentices - this can be particularly useful if you work within a niche field where you’d prefer content from your own subject matter experts. Ease-of-use can differ greatly depending on the specific authoring tool, so be sure to consider all options to best meet your needs.
Smart lessons made our list of top trends for 2021! But what makes them special? Imagine your average video-based lesson (such as Zoom) but with the ability to add any number of varied resources for completion whilst the call is active, creating a more integrated and interactive learning experience - a much needed feature in recent times.
An ePortfolio tool can be invaluable for reducing the overall human resource requirements for tasks requiring information contained within a learning portfolio, as well as helping to reduce human error - allowing teachers/trainers to concentrate on their learners!
Individual Learner Record & ESFA Reporting functionality
For mandatory ESFA reporting processes, ILR software is often sold as a standalone solution, exclusively with this purpose in mind. The benefit of choosing an ILR tool which is built into your LMS is that the data captured by the system can be used to automatically populate the relevant fields, allowing people to focus on their core responsibilities.
Video conferencing platform
Whilst basic, video conferencing can provide valuable utility in abnormal circumstances where physical presence is not viable, but when paired with ancillary solutions such as Open eLMS Live for additional functionality such as automatic calendar invites and reminders, recording of attendance and cataloguing saved videos for use in your LMS as a revision tool at a later date.
Peer-to-peer discussion forums
An LMS may have the ability to host discussion forums or other chat functionality which allows learners to communicate with each other about their learning, a specific subject, and to support each other.
Gamification functionality makes learning more fun, and can be utilised to motivate learners, by competing against themselves or with their peers.
Microlearning (H5P compatibility)
HTML5 Package (H5P) objects are individually deployable learning objects which are able to track and report on learner activity as you would expect from any other elearning. By being deployable as standalone resources however, they are a great resource for any organisation looking to incorporate microlearning as homework or part of a live smart lesson.
eForm/Digital Form Building Tools
If you are pursuing a digital first approach, an editable digital form builder with esignatures for audit, compliance and survey purposes should be added to your list of required tools.
Continuing Professional Development trackers allow employees and managers to review their learning and development in one place, during apprenticeships and beyond, making it easy to understand the capabilities of a workforce and address any necessary areas of improvement.
Curriculum building/planning tools
If an LMS has curriculum building and planning tools, you can control how resources are structured within modules and programmes, and also control when those resources are visible to students - this helps with navigation, understanding and administration!
Integrations and Interoperability
Systems need to talk to each other. Be sure to understand your chosen vendor's approach to integrations with other solutions, and compatibility with open standards that are central to the interoperability of learning data and resources. An open API which is plug and play and can interface with major software vendors and adherence to open standards such as LTI and SCORM is vital to ensure interoperability, and could save you a bundle in development costs.
Author Andrew Howie is Director of eLearning WMB - owners of the Open eLMS for Apprenticeships system. Andrew says “We have identified these technologies and have spent the last few years building them into our product for effective apprenticeship delivery so they are ready to go. We’ve helped all our customers through an incredibly difficult period - we’re here to listen, advise and provide all our expertise to your ongoing requirements.”