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Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

Skills Minister Asks Employers to Increase Education

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

The U.K. Skills Minister John Hayes has called on all U.K. businesses to promote informal learning at work, following pledges from 64 companies to increase informal workplace training for their staff.

via Informal Learning at Work.

UK Universities plan to become world leaders in on-line distance learning

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

A new task force to ensure our universities become the first choice across the world for on-line distance learning was announced yesterday by Higher Education Minister, David Lammy.

The task force chaired by Lynne Brindley, the Chief Executive of the British Library will advise on a wider strategy to build on our past and present successes and ensure we do not lose pace on increased demand in expanding and new markets.

It will be backed by a new Open Learning Innovation Fund aimed at helping universities build on their existing world class reputations to access and engage future markets that are expected to value around £15bn in the future.

This is a competitive match funding initiative, with up to £10m from HEFCE and therefore worth up to £20m in total, aims to encourage universities to work collaboratively with each other and the private and third sectors, to bid for money to develop projects to help transform the way people can get a degree.

David Lammy said;
“Advances such as 3G, webcasts and web 2.0, will allow UK universities to reach out to communities as far flung as Africa and Hong Kong and to deliver high quality, student-centred higher education across the globe.

“The use of mobile technologies such as PDAs and MP3 players means this can be done at a time and place that is convenient for the student wherever they are in the world.

“This Open Learning Innovation Fund will help institutions develop new initiatives and exploit new opportunities to ensure we remain at the forefront of online distance learning as the international market develops.

“I am particularly pleased that Lynne Brindley, Steve Beswick from Microsoft and Martin Bean have agreed to be part of the task force that will guide the way as this important work is taken forward.”

Dame Lynne Brindley, CEO British Library said:
“I am delighted to have been asked to chair the Task Force, and to consider the many opportunities for UK higher education to excel in online learning and meet the changing demands of students. The British Library is itself committed to innovative, high quality digital services, including public and commercial partnerships, and I look forward to making recommendations for action to stimulate growth in this important area.”

The Taskforce will include senior representatives from Microsoft [and Apple], who will join Martin Bean, the next Vice Chancellor of the Open University, the British Council, HEFCE, JISC and Universities UK. The BBC has agreed to advise the task force as and when appropriate.

The Online Learning Innovation Fund, established by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), could help groups of institutions to pursue new business opportunities and promote online learning including using open resources funded as part of the e-learning programme. Universities will also be able to develop greater expertise in on-line teaching and create centres of excellence for the delivery of online learning.

The wider strategy will broadly;
> Develop new plans for international marketing of on-line distance UK HE;
> Continue to promote the development of e-learning across the breadth of HE;
> Work to increase the quantity of learning resources freely available for all institutions to use; and
> Continue to develop the role of the Open University (OU) as a national resource, so that all universities can benefit from the OU’s specialist expertise, developed through public funding.

HEFCE will develop the Open Learning Innovation Fund in the light of the task force’s advice and then consult the sector on the practical details.

Britain is a world leader in distance learning currently attracting more than 100,000 students from around the globe and earning the sector some £200m in fees.

Source: PublicTechnology.Net

Nottinghamshire County Council engages adult learners with interactive quizzes

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Adult Learners Week: 9-15 May 2009
Inspiring adults from diverse backgrounds to give learning a go, the Adult and Community Learning Service (ACLS), part of Nottinghamshire County Council, is engaging adult learners through game-show style quizzes.

Adult learning providers across the county are using Qwizdom (www.qwizdom.co.uk), an interactive voting system, to encourage learners to participate anonymously with confidence, removing the embarrassment or fear of speaking in front of peers.

A major skills shortage is costing the UK economy up to £10 billion a year according to a recent estimate by The CBI (Confederation of British Industry). By improving adult learning through new technology, the ACLS aims to help adults regardless of their background to continue their education through numerous projects. It has trialled the voting system with three of its learning providers: Advocacy 2 Engagement (A2E), The Positive Action through Learning Support Project and The Personal Learning Consultancy. Due to huge demand, it has now rolled out the kit to numerous other learning providers in Nottinghamshire.

A2E, which delivers tailor-made courses for adults with learning difficulties and disabilities, is using quizzes to improve their basic life skills. Questions such as: ‘Have I put a safe amount of water in this kettle?’ are posed to the class whilst the facilitator shows them a kettle filled with water exceeding the maximum limit. Learners press their keypads to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and responses are anonymously displayed on an interactive whiteboard, open for discussion. The system can also record achievement and progression by inputting the quiz results into a spreadsheet against each learner. This instantly shows how well learners are progressing, indicating which learners and topics need more attention.

Alan Clark, Service Development Manager at ACLS, commented: “Learners have been able to identify the link between using Qwizdom and popular television shows such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The feedback from learners and staff has been overwhelmingly positive because of the interactivity and healthy competition it brings to sessions. Sometimes adults’ perception of learning is a stereotypical one of being seated in rows and lectured, whereas voting technology is bringing learning to life for them.”

Comments from A2E learners include: “I liked seeing it on the screen so I know what I am doing”, “I liked it very much, it was easy” and “now I feel more independent.”

The Positive Action through Learning Support Project – a partnership between Nottingham Dyslexia Action and Nottinghamshire Probation Service – also uses Qwizdom for basic skills training. For example, when a probation officer identifies a literacy or numeracy weakness in one of their clients they can put them forward for a place on the programme. The Personal Learning Consultancy uses Qwizdom for family learning programmes to enable parents and carers to become more involved in their children’s education by understanding the literacy and numeracy curriculum whilst improving their own skills.

Gary Morrison, Director of Qwizdom, concluded: “The ACLS appreciates the benefits of using interactive technology to engage adult learners. If education providers are to successfully motivate adults to continue learning, it is vital that they implement innovative technology so that all learners feel confident to participate.”

Hospitality Training Programs will help fill 1m vacancies

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

An extensive initiative is underway to prepare the hospitality industry for an upcoming one million vacancies.

The initiative, run by the National Skills Academy for Hospitality, will endorse hospitality training programmes that meet specific standards and criteria.

It is hoped training programmes that receive a stamp of approval from the Academy will stimulate and develop new skills needed in the hospitality industry.

The National Skills Academy for Hospitality, a not for profit organisation, said they are responding to a demand for skills in the industry that will escalate in the coming months. The hospitality sector, which has escaped from the economic downturn relatively unscathed, will continue to grow and recruit, according to the Academy’s Chairman Bob Cotton.

The increase in the demand for hospitality skills, they said, will be spurred by seasonal demand, people retiring and those leaving the industry. Despite the recession, the Academy has predicted around one million vacancies in the industry in the next 12 months.

The industry is already affected by skills shortages in management and leadership, customer service and chefs.

If a course is approved by the Academy, they will “reap the reward of being recognised as excellent,” according to the Academy’s chief executive, David McHattie.

He said the initiative would raise standards and increase the availability of training programmes.

Shining a light on the excellence found and increasing the availability of these programmes will not only raise the standards of training throughout the hospitality industry but enhance our reputation with the talent of the future,” said Mr McHattie.

Several programmes have been identified, approved and recognised so far.

They are a New Advanced Apprenticeship to provide students with skills to run a successful pub, restaurant or bar; Diplomas in Professional Cookery; Diplomas in Professional Cookery intended to set a new standard of delivery in chef qualifications; Chef Master Classes for those who want to develop their existing skills; and Junior Chefs Academies, a 10-week Saturday morning college programme that provides 14-16 year olds with basic cooking skills.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) will be working with the Academy and partners to establish several Junior Chefs Academies in the Northwest.

Douglas Gyte,tourism development manager at NWDA, said the programme will act as a vehicle for talented individuals who want to further a career as a chef.

This programme provides fantastic opportunities for our potential chefs to develop their interest in the profession and gain expertise. The programme aims to stimulate interest and encourage more talented young chefs to pursue a career in the industry,” said Mr Douglas.

He called the development of chefs important and integral to the overall success of the hospitality industry.

Lifelong Learning UK seeks online feedback on data collection project

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Lifelong Learning UK is running a process of data collection about the workforce to ensure there is a better understanding of those operating in the lifelong learning sector.

We have been analysing and reporting labour market intelligence gained through the Staff Individualised Record (SIR) submissions received from further education (FE) colleges. Encouragingly, submissions for 2007/08 increased by 29% on the previous year and will provide our partners with a detailed profile overview of staff working in FE colleges.

As part of a data collection process revision, Lifelong Learning UK has now created an online consultation portal for all those involved in submitting data to discuss any aspects of the collection. The portal will enable frequent and simple interaction and will build a community of users to assist each other.

Tynan Rodger, Project Manager at Lifelong Learning UK said: “We’re really pleased with the response from further education colleges, and this year have opened up the collection process to work based learning and adult and community learning providers, which are also an important part of the workforce.”

He added: “Data collection is just one element enabling us to build a picture of the FE workforce but we also want to ensure we encourage an ongoing dialogue with providers. We are confident that the portal will be a welcome tool for providers to give us their feedback on the process.”

With the launch of the consultation portal, we are inviting FE colleges along with other training providers to log on to the portal, speak up and share their experiences of the collection process. This is fundamental to ensure its benefits are identified and necessary improvements are delivered.

We look forward to receiving the feedback and engaging in a constructive process to shape the future of data collection and support the development needs of all those working in this important sector.

Source: PublicTechnology.Net

Strategy for tech-enhanced learning launched by Higher Education Funding Council for England

Friday, March 27th, 2009

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has published ‘Enhancing learning and teaching through the use of technology – a revised approach to HEFCE’s strategy for e-learning’.

This revised approach follows an independent review of the strategy and is designed to provide further support to higher education institutions as they develop their own e-learning strategies.

The new approach is intended to support institutions in considering where they may wish to prioritise their technology-related investment over the next few years, and to develop appropriate institutional learning and teaching strategies. Support and guidance is available from the Higher Education Academy and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). Findings from the review, which was carried out with the support of the Higher Education Academy and JISC, suggested the strategy has been useful in motivating institutional activity, but that some of the information has become outdated, given the current level of maturity in e-learning in the sector.

In order to assist institutions in achieving their strategic aims for enhancing learning and teaching through technology, the document suggests a framework focusing on: pedagogy, curriculum design and development; learning resources and environments; quality; and research and evaluation.

John Selby, HEFCE Director (Education and Participation), said:
‘Our emphasis is on recognising that technology has a fundamental part to play in higher education, and that it should now reflect commitment from senior management in institutions within an institutional context. Our revised approach to e-learning will contribute to the Government’s aim to position the UK at the front of technology-enhanced learning internationally, and continue to build a knowledge-based economy.’

David Sadler, Director of Networks at the Higher Education Academy, said:
‘The Higher Education Academy is pleased to have been involved in this review and the revised policy statement, and its emphasis on enhancement is one that highlights how technology can be used by practitioners to support students in their learning. It focuses on the benefits and the outcomes from using technology to support learning, teaching and assessment, which will be different in each institution, and could make a real difference to the learning experience of students across all higher education institutions.’

Malcolm Read, Executive Secretary at JISC said:
‘JISC welcomed the opportunity to work with its partners to contribute to this review, and suggest how technology can enhance teaching and learning to assist in the delivery of higher education institutions’ strategic missions.

‘Part of this strategy is already beginning to take shape through the current investment being made in the open educational resources pilot. This work aims to open access to high-quality education resources on an international scale. It shows a new approach to virtual education, and will help to maintain the UK’s position as a global leader in online learning.’

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) distributes public money for teaching, research and related activities. In 2008-09 HEFCE will distribute over £9 billion to universities and colleges in England. The Higher Education Academy works with universities and colleges, discipline groups, individual staff and organisations to help them deliver the best possible learning experience for students.

JISC is a joint committee of the UK further and higher education funding bodies and is responsible for supporting the innovative use of information and communication technology to support learning, teaching, and research. It is best known for providing the JANET network, a range of support, content and advisory services, and a portfolio of high-quality resources.

Source: PublicTechnology.Net

Villiers High School hits e-learning goals with open source Moodle solution

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Meeting the Government’s latest eLearning targets, students and teachers at Villiers High School, Middlesex now have access to an engaging, interactive online learning environment that provides anytime, anywhere learning.

Choosing to tailor the free open source learning platform Moodle with the help of Moodle Partner Synergy Learning, the school is benefiting from technology tailored to the specific needs of its staff and students at the fraction of the cost of an off-the-shelf solution.

Government eLearning targets state that by 2010 all schools must have a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) for pupils and use this technology to report in real-time to parents about key issues such as attendance and attainment. With a VLE, pupils can log on, search resources, receive and complete homework and talk to teachers and peers via internal email. Villiers High School is leading the way for the region by introducing a free of charge, open source online learning environment for schools. Open source software enables schools to use, change and improve the software with no restrictions.

The biggest advantages of open source software such as Moodle are its flexibility and cost savings. The software can be adapted to suit each school, from adding school colours and logo to selecting which functions they want for pupils. To gain maximum potential from their new tool, Villiers High School has enlisted the help of Synergy Learning, a Moodle Partner specialising in adapting the tool, technical support and training staff. The company provides 24/7 advice and support 365 days a year for less than the cost of an annual licence for similar off-the-shelf software. This support is particularly useful for schools that do not have a dedicated ICT coordinator and those that would like to free up teachers’ time that may otherwise be spent on overseeing the school’s technology.

Juliet Strang, Headteacher at Villiers High School commented: “Using Moodle and the support from Synergy Learning has been incredibly cost-effective, enabled us to meet government targets and create the highest quality educational tool for our pupils. We wanted technology that was unique to us, not a generic online environment that offered various functions we wouldn’t use and a style that wouldn’t appeal to our pupils. We now have a tool that meets our needs and the ongoing support we receive is invaluable.”

Source: PublicTechnology.Net

Learn Skills can also offer this support and advise for schools wishing to explore this option in line with these targets but also have a hosted LMS options targeting the needs of schools that would not be as familiar with the Moodle LMS.

e-skills UK and Microsoft bring excitement of IT to Diploma students

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Last week, around 200 Diploma in IT students from 25 schools were given an insight into working in IT. The students spent a day at Microsoft’s London offices as part of an interactive event to show how exciting a career in IT can be.

Throughout the day, students heard from Microsoft employees who shared their experiences of working in IT and the importance of technology to the wider world. The students also had a chance to try out Microsoft’s Surface technology and to see Microsoft’s Deep Zoom and Photosynth in action.

As part of the event, the students were challenged to come up with the “next big idea” in technology, with suggestions ranging from a device for the kitchen that tells you what’s in the cupboard, to a multifunctional travel gadget with GPS. Newham College from East London was runner up and the winning idea came from West Sussex school Steyning Grammar, whose next big thing in IT was the “eco-kube”, a device aimed at lowering your carbon footprint by telling you if you’re using too much water or gas, and providing advice about how to be more eco-friendly.

Karen Price, CEO of e-skills UK, who led the development of the Diploma in IT, said “This was a fantastic event and demonstrated how motivational the hands-on involvement of companies like Microsoft can be for young people. Giving IT Diploma students a chance to try out the latest technologies was very inspiring and showed them how what they are studying now applies to a real workplace environment.

“The continued decline in the number of students choosing IT-related A-levels and GCSEs highlights a serious issue for the UK. To compete in the technology intensive globalised economy, we need an inspiring curriculum in schools that attracts talented students into technology-related degrees and careers. We are proud to be working with leading employers to ensure that the Diploma in IT does just that.”

Parents & teachers to receive practical support to get children learning online

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Teachers and parents across the country will be able to request support and training on how to help school aged children access the internet at home for learning, from a new foundation to be set up by Becta. The foundation will provide a vehicle for all interested organisations to demonstrate their commitment and support to this initiative.

Becta, the education technology agency, will work closely with industry and other interested parties to create an independent foundation, which will administer and distribute industry funds in support of the government’s Home Access programme. The idea was proposed by Microsoft in response to the government announcement made in September 2008 and the foundation is open to other organisations who wish to get involved.

The Home Access programme, which will be piloted in Oldham and Suffolk from February, will work to ensure every child has access to a home computer and the internet for their school or college work. The pilot aims to ensure every 7- to 18- year-old in full time state-maintained education has access to the internet at home.

The Home Access programme forms part of Becta’s Next Generation Learning campaign, which promotes the best use of technology in learning.

The new foundation is expected to be launched later this year, to coincide with the national rollout of the Home Access programme. It will be charged, on behalf of the government, with supporting local training of teachers and parents, including raising awareness of the importance of home access and how to overcome barriers in the community. The independent foundation will be overseen by Becta and other organisations are being encouraged to join Microsoft in providing support for the foundation.

Stephen Crowne, Chief Executive of Becta, said:
“We need to ensure that every learner has an equal chance to tap into the benefits of the internet to enhance their learning – and the Home Access programme seeks to do just that, by offering this opportunity to all learners.

“Getting parents and teachers on board is clearly vital to the success of the programme, so we are really excited about this opportunity to support them, in partnership with the industry. I welcome the leadership Microsoft has shown and am now calling for more leading companies to join us in the drive to support parents and teachers.”

Steve Beswick, Director of Education, Microsoft, commented:
“We believe that all children should have access to the learning tools they need in order to realise their full potential. As part of a global programme, we have created an investment fund to support activities that will help ensure the home access programme has maximum impact. Our goal is now to support Becta in setting up the foundation and encourage others across the industry to get involved.”

In early 2009 a pilot begins in two local authorities, focusing on learners aged 7-18. Low income families may be eligible for support towards the purchase of an approved package consisting of a device, connectivity and support.

Hospitality and tourism training update from the UK

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

24th October, 2008 – UK – A short-life task group has been set up by Ministers to review qualifications within the hospitality and tourism sector and ensure these are relevant and responsive to the changing needs of the industry in these tough economic times.

The group will also examine a recommendation from the Parliament’s Economy, Enterprise and Tourism Committee that education, skills and training in these sectors should be rationalised, with resources prioritised to support an industry-backed system.

The group, which will include representatives from the industry, national education and skills bodies, and college and university sectors, will help inform Ministers on what action may be required. Its remit will be to:

* Identify what hospitality and tourism qualifications are available and advise Scottish Ministers on what is required to make them more relevant and responsive to employer needs during these uncertain times
* Establish how many and what type of hotel school developments are currently under consideration in Scotland and advise on how these can support the industry’s needs
* Summarise, for the industry, the roles of the respective public bodies in relation to qualifications development, validation and funding

Minister for Schools and Skills, Maureen Watt, said:

“Tourism is a key sector in Scotland and the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring the right conditions exist to enable it to flourish, particularly in these tough economic times.

“Ensuring that those within the industry and those seeking to join it in the future, have access to the right skills and training is an essential part of that – both for employees and employers.

“The task group will help us ensure that resources are targeted towards skills and training that best meets the industry’s requirements and that training is also sufficiently flexible to adapt to those changes needs.”

Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism, Jim Mather, said:

“Scotland has a fantastic tourism product. From our wonderful scenery, to our compelling history, diverse culture, and friendly people, we have so much to offer the world.

“But if we are to continue to compete in one of the world’s most competitive markets, we need to ensure that we have a new generation of well trained young talent who can take Scotland’s reputation to the next level in years to come.

“It is their Scottish hospitality, their standards of service and their skills which will set our great country apart. This new group will ensure that those standards continue to rise, leading to a highly responsive Scottish tourism industry which will be the envy of countries across the world.”

The creation of the task group will help the industry ensure that people have access to the right skills and training to ensure it gets through these difficult economic times. It will also enable Ministers to respond to a recommendation from the Economy, Enterprise and Tourism Committee’s report – Growing Pains – can we achieve a 50 per cent growth in tourist revenue by 2015?

While the Scottish Government agreed with the majority of the recommendations, Ministers wanted to further investigate issues raised in recommendation 246, which said the Tourism Minister should work with his colleagues and key agencies to declutter and rationalise the provision of education, skills and training in the sector and reprioritise the resources towards a system that is demand-led and enjoys the support of the industry and which offers a smaller number of industry and government approved courses delivered by a limited number of centres with geographical spread.

Full membership of the group, which will meet twice and is expected to report by mid-December, includes:

* Iain Herbert, Chief Executive, Scottish Tourism Forum. Iain has also worked with several premier Scottish tourism agencies, including the Scottish Whisky Heritage Centre as general manager and as manager for the Royal Yacht Britannia. He is also a former head of visitor operations for the National Museums of Scotland.
* Peter Lederer CBE, Chairman of VisitScotland and Chairman of Gleneagles Hotel Limited. He is also a Trustee of the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland and the Tourism & Hospitality Education Trust.
* David Allen, People 1st. Prior to joining People 1st in September 2007, David spent more than 16 years in the hospitality and tourism industry, in the UK and in Europe. This included working for the Marriot Group and setting up and running a multi million pound conference centre in Fife. He is a member of the Institute of Hospitality and plays an active role in supporting industry led skills and education forums including the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) Skills forum.
* Mandy Exley, Principal, Perth College. Mandy moved to Scotland in 2000 and bought at small hotel on the shores of Loch Tay. In addition to her post in the college, she is a director of the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, and the Scottish Tourism Forum.
* Mary Nasmyth, Scottish Training Federation
* Professor David Kirk, Vice Principal, Queen Margaret University
* John Kemp, Deputy Director of Strategic Development, Scottish Funding Council
* Chris Taylor, Highlands & Islands Enterprise
* Eddie Brogan, Tourism Director, Scottish Enterprise
* Joe Wilson, Head of New Ventures, Scottish Qualifications Authority
* Darah Zahran, Skills Development Scotland
* Eric Milligan, Skills Development Scotland

Source: Scottish Government News