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Funding on-line learning

19 June 2019

The official government response to the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG) has been published today Caution on the proposal that 50% of assessment in vocational qualifications will be online because of the need in some areas to demonstrate in-person competency Rejection of the recommendation for learning technology to be separately judged by Ofsted because the inspectorate "does not have a preferred learning style" Introduction of an online funding rate in SFA funding in 2015-16 for vocational qualifications Testing of online funding/delivery in the apprenticeship trailblazers ("on-line only trailblazers") A new minimum online threshold for new or revised qualifications in SFA business rules from autumn 2014 and beyond at a level not yet set No comment on the suggestion that the funding system be based on "learning presence rather than physical attendance" Review of the data collected in 2014-15 ILRs to inform these decisions Encouragement for various initiatives run by JISC, the Education Training Foundation and UFI Trust to develop learning technology Encouragement to colleges to consider how to include learning technology in their capital project decisions (ie ducking the issue now that Local Enterprise Partnerships take a role in allocating the skills capital budget) A reminder that the Technology Strategy Board is offering funding of up to £1.1million to support projects involving learning techology The official response is therefore more cautious than FELTAG were on several specific proposals. The plan to use apprenticeship trailblazers to test online teaching and assessment adds another objective for a new programme which is also testing several other innovations. It might have been more fruitful to start somewhere else. The plan to introduce an online SFA funding rate needs to be based on recent experience of similar initiatives (going back to the late 1990s when the Further Education Funding Council offered funding for open and distance learning). An important check is to ensure that the technology genuinely works in the way described by its promoters and that students are learning and achieving. The plan for a minimum online learning threshold for all new vocational qualifications needs to take account of the need to teach and assess "in-person competency" and of the issues that some learners have in gaining access to computers, tablets and smartphones. We do not yet have 100% take-up.