“Our IT team was fantastic and made sure we had WiFi available where the tablets would be used even before they had arrived!”
Using technology to enhance learning
Before their successful bid to secure a place on the Learning Futures programme, technology and learning at PETA Ltd were not integrated in the workshops. Rather than simply prioritising their organisation’s need to acquire technology, however, they approached the situation with a level head and focused on a way of transferring the technology into learning. A summary of their project aims can be found here.
Gavin Smith, senior manager of government funded training at PETA, says that their priority was to reduce waiting times for engineering apprentices when being taught in the workshop. Because they were being taught on a ten learner per tutor basis, it would often be frustrating trying to access help. They realised that having flexible access to video learning materials—demonstrating, for example, how a particular piece of equipment is used—could provide a valuable solution. As well as this, says Sally Betts of Ideas4Learning who is working alongside PETA on the project, “They wanted to train both staff and students in technology, which often takes a backseat in a workshop environment where readily available technology, such as mobile phones, are not allowed for health and safety reasons.”
Creating videos to enhance L2 and L3 Engineering Apprenticeship Programmes
PETA’s decision to pursue the use of video technology in workshops was intended to encourage active learning for students whose learning style is better suited to skills being shown as opposed to simply being described. Relatively few staff had experience of and confidence in mobile technology, so the team at PETA were keen to pursue a project that involved training staff to create contextualised videos that would support L2 and L3 Engineering Apprenticeship Programmes and also met the needs of employers.
Executing the project
The process PETA used to implement their project, explains Gavin, meant that tutors are crucial to its success: “Instructors have bought in at the coal face, rather than this project being about the senior management team standing alone and driving it forward. We selected three instructors from several volunteers who were willing to take responsibility for researching and proposing options. The instructors presented proposals for tablets that could be used to make the videos, drawing attention to factors such as cost, the quality of cameras and pre-loaded apps.” Although the instructors are the driving force behind PETA’s Learning Futures project, it has been enabled by the recognition of its importance at all levels across the organisation. Sally explains, “It is important that there is buy-in across the board, with good backing from the senior leadership team as well as the people doing the work. The project needs all-round support: Our IT team, for example, was fantastic and made sure we had WiFi available where the tablets would be used even before they had arrived; and the learners, themselves, helped to decide which sorts of videos would support their learning.”
Progress so far
Although this technology is still being trialled, and has yet to be brought into the workshops, there have been three training events for instructors, and practise resources have been developed. Trial and error is key to the project team understanding what is going to work and what is going to need adjustment or further development. Find out what the team has learned to date by reading their blogs on the Learning Futures website.
In the future, PETA want to research and implement the creation of 3D animations as well as videos. Another development will involve finding a way for employers and learners to be connected in real‑time over video to provide a seamless link between the workshop and the real life workplace, thus making it easier for learners to adjust to full-time employment once they finish their qualification. Learning Futures’ involvement with PETA is supporting learners to take greater ownership of the direction of their learning, and Gavin is enthusiastic about spreading this attitude and approach across the sector and the engineering industry. This has already started to happen and is bringing the organisation closer to the ultimate aim of creating a landscape where learning and technology are fully integrated.