ONLINE LEARNING POLICY
This policy oulines ITEC NE’s approach to online learning as a response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced the way in which our training programmes are delivered. Delivery would traditionally take place in one of our three well equipped training centres, or on employer premises. In response to the pandemic, and to ensure that our learners & employers could continue in training, all delivery was moved online.
This reactive move ensured that the vast majority of learning could continue, however in some minor cases we identified that not all learners had the necessary hardware, connectivity or technical capability to engage.
The policy, as at December 2020, identifies our distance travelled since March 2020, and our short term goals to ensure inclusivity for all moving forward into 2021.
ONLINE LEARNING STRATEGY
Our Online Learning Strategy (20-21) details 4 strategic aims;
- Enhance Practice
The strategy has been designed in collaboration with staff and learners at ITEC. The central aim of the strategy is to build on our existing strengths to enhance the overall teaching and learning experience at ITEC.
The objectives seek to broaden the ways e-learning may be used, ensure that learners have an effective and consistent online learning experience and to enable an informed, digitally literate staff with appropriate development opportunities and smart tools.
The strategy is discussed and actioned via ITEC NE’s Quality Group with operational actions logged and monitored via the companies Quality Improvement Plan. A copy of the strategy can be requested by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org , or calling 07783 336695.
We are able to offer blended models to cater for individual learner need, or in response to further lockdown restrictions.
Our centres are full equipped with appropriate signage, hygiene equipment and track & trace.
All centres have been risk assessed in line with latest guidance, and appropriate signage is in place to confirm room capacity and expectations.
We expect moving into 2021 that our blended models will continue. In some cases it is safe & appropriate to keep 100% of learning online, for example shorter or self study programmes. In regards to longer and more in depth programmes, delivery will continue as a blended model of classroom & online delivery.
In all cases, prior to enrolment, delivery models will be discussed with prospective learners and any individual needs actioned.
In response to the first lockdown in March 2021, ITEC NE rolled out Adobe Connect as a platform to continue business & training activities. It was identified that although Adobe Connect serviced the needs of most learners, additional platforms were required to ensure all needs were met.
The following platforms are now in operation;
- Adobe Connect
- Google Classroom
In all cases, prior to enrolment, the most appropriate delivery platforms will be discussed with learners should some or all learning be online.
HARDWARE & CONNECTIVITY
Throughout the pandemic ITEC NE have worked with learners to ensure that they have been supported with any hardware or connectivity issues to maintain engagement & continuation of learning. This work has helped to inform our investment, and some of the longer term goals outlined in our Online Learning Strategy.
We can now confidently set the following assurances to all learners;
- A pool of laptops are reserved for those learners who do not have, or struggle to get regular access to hardware. Loan requests are assessed on an individual basis by the course tutor.
- A pool of secondary equipment (webcams, microphones, tablets etc) are available for loan. Loan requests are assessed on an individual basis by the course tutor.
- Connectivity issues have been addressed in a number of ways;
- ITEC NE centres have been enabled with Guest networks for internet access
- A pool of PAYG dongles can be loaned – Loan requests are assessed on an individual basis by the course tutor.
- Learners can be pointed towards local free wifi (libraries, coffee shops etc) based on their home address. Tutors will support learners in identifying free access points.
We do not anticipate any issues with learners not being able to engage in programmes.
Despite best efforts to provide appropriate training platforms and hardware / connectivity solutions, we are mindful that not all prospective learners may have the technical capabilities to connect & engage in learning.
Whilst we could not mitigate these risks entirely, through staff training and our company wide approach, we aim to minimise the number of learners unable to engage in activities by;
- Ensuring that all learners are provided with their tutors mobile telephone number as a primary point of contact
- Employ social mechanisms as necessary to engage & support learners – examples may include Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp video call.
- Invite learners to centre on a 1-1 basis to support in accessing platforms and material
- In everything we do, think innovatively to create solutions to support learners in engaging.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
To ensure the policy is fully implemented it is essential roles and responsibilities are clearly defined for all staff with regard to supporting learners in accessing online learning platforms.
Board of Directors
- ITEC NE continually reviews & develops its approach to online learner via the Online Learning Strategy and Quality Improvement Plan.
- Supports the Managing Director in making swift decisions to ensure that no learner is disadvantaged in accessing learning as a result of personal circumstance.
- ITEC NE remains responsive in its approaches to delivery as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Drives an ethos of continual development via the Online Learning Strategy and Quality Improvement Plan.
- All staff receive the appropriate training to equip them to carry out their duties and responsibilities competently.
- That sufficient time and resources allocated to enable designated person(s) to fulfil their responsibilities.
Tutors and other delivery staff
- Delivery models are discussed ahead of training to identify any issues or concerns swiftly
- Raise problems or concerns quickly to ensure that learning is not delayed, and learners are not disadvantaged
- Maintain professional development with regards to platforms, software and industry best practice.
The policy and procedures will be updated and reviewed annually to ensure it is aligned to ITEC’s statutory responsibilities and guidance issued by the government.