Are we FELTAG ready?

online-technology (1)

I mentioned in an earlier post here that I would be involved in helping create resources to meet FELTAG requirements within my college. In January I completed a two-hour training session on types of online resources we would be using. Since then we have been creating resources to help deliver our curriculum.

The model we are using is simple enough to follow (I know it is because I understand it!) and I have to say it should be fairly easy for the students to use and engage with. Unfortunately I have not got permission to say what it is, however I am fairly certain our college will not be the only one using it.

Going back to the online resources, there are several things concerning me at present. The first is that not all students use their college VLE, some because they cannot be bothered and others because it genuinely confuses them. This is going to be a problem as the online resources will be accessed through it. It was only a few days ago a student asked me about a task she had been set. I explained that she needed to look back over her class notes and for further guidance she could look at the resources on our VLE. She looked at me blankly and asked “what’s that?”. As we were in a computer room I showed her, despite being given a lesson on using our VLE at the start of the year she had never attempted to access it. This is not an isolated incident and therefore I think come September a different approach to ensuring students use their college VLE’s effectively is required.

Secondly, despite my best efforts to complete my own resources well before the deadline, I failed. There is really no time in college to do additional tasks as any spare time is spent marking, filling out reports, dealing with students and so on. There is no such thing as spare time! However I did get it in on time but it was not as good as I would have liked it to have been. So yet again time is still an issue. This needs to be looked at if we want to be successful in using, creating and maintaining these resources.

Aside from the time factor what also held me up was trying to put myself in ‘my students’ shoes’. I looked at the resources I wanted to use and the learning outcomes needed to be achieved to pass the unit. It was quite hard to be honest, I had to keep reminding myself that the subject could be relatively new to them and not assume they already had some underpinning knowledge. At least when you are in the classroom you can expand on the subject more for those who need it.

My final thought is that what we have been creating (and are continuing to do so) seems pretty robust and that there is consistency throughout the college. I am sure this will be the case for other colleges too. The issues I envision dealing with are students with very little confidence using online resources and students who struggle to follow the online content independently. If we ensure support is given right from the start then hopefully we can avoid this. I am keen to see this work but I am also mindful of the potential frustrations it may cause some students (and teachers too).

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4 thoughts on “Are we FELTAG ready?

  1. @cazzwebbo

    Very accurate appraisal of the situation. One way forward would be to acknowledge a transition period where the platform was used to carry out tasks during class time on computers at college. However, this would rely on a computer room booking being feasible for every class, which it isn’t. After a term or two of using the platform in class students would be able to access alone from elsewhere. But would they be bothered? Horse, water, drink… I’m not convinced that the students we deal with are at the right level of maturity to be thrown the feltag requirements at them. It assumes far greater engagement than is actually there. My guess is that it will be a white elephant. It will fail.

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    1. Thanks for your input. I’ve tried that approach in class time with two groups and it has been a positive experience. However you are right about securing computer rooms. Who knows what September will bring. I think 2015/16 will be a very interesting time in relation to colleges meeting FELTAG requirements. Also seeing how students respond.

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  2. I applaud the initiative to create your own resources, especially if using a wide range of ‘simple to use’ authoring tools to make up a package of online blended learning materials, many of which include automatic marking etc. But as you implied, that’s just one important part of the programme. Accessibility and engagement requires a strategy which makes the VLE worth accessing, nothing puts off learners from using a VLE more effectively than a boring, difficult to navigate platform, likewise for staff. Time for effective CPD is limited, which is why progressive organisations are providing appropriate staff training with support materials online available 24/7. Most important of all it’s essential that senior management endorse and support those driving the strategy forward. Sadly, that is less common than one would imagine, whereas the barriers described are all too familiar.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback. If we can all help our learners use the VLE effectively then half the battle is won. However we also need time ourselves to work on using and creating resources for the VLE. As you said there are lots of barriers. I think we just need to all work together to remove them. However that’s easier said than done. It is going to be a time of trial and error.

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