The future of FE is no doubt bleak. Funding cuts essentially mean more job losses and reduced training provision. Colleges up and down the country will be working hard to absorb the cuts as much as possible as they search for more efficient ways to utilise their most vital assets. With further FE funding cuts planned, could Moodle be the key to future adult learning?
If the government plans to prioritise Apprenticeships, Maths and English yet reduce the operating capacity of colleges, then the most cost-effective way of delivering this will have to come from more efficient use of blended delivery.
We will never be able to replace good quality tutors with technology, teaching is all about people. But if colleges are to stay solvent, then they must now holistically integrate teaching and e-learning ‘socially’ across the entire organisation.
We need to see signifiant improvements in personalised, adaptive and social learning. A one-size-fits-all-approach to teaching does not work in class, nor does it work online. We need to see less emphasis on assessments, assignment uploads and grades and more emphasis on individual learning. And the role of the tutor here is the most valuable piece of the puzzle.
We cannot teach vocational subjects wholly online, we can’t assess one’s ability to wire a house via a Moodle quiz nor can we receive a virtual haircut. We need to stop worrying about creating minimum course standards and stop asking tutors to build more content .
Colleges simply don’t have the time nor the resources to build more course content. Even less so now in wake of the cuts.
But there is an answer. And it doesn’t involve huge amount of financial investment. It requires leadership.
Learning is a social activity and in the past, college’s have failed to recognise the importance Moodle can play in this. Moodle doesn’t have to be about uploading files, grading assignments and building quizzes. Instead we can radically shift the way we use it and encourage collaboration, peer-curated content and the sharing of knowledge. (Its social-constructivist roots already bode well to this). But this needs to be supported from the top down and needs to become an integral part of teaching and learning in Further Education.
FE training provision doesn’t have to disappear by 2020. It has to be increased. It is too important to be lost. It’s the backbone of our UK workforce. And Moodle could be the key. But not by using it the way we have done historically, but by tearing up the rule book and approaching it from a fresh perspective.