Laser Learning Blended Learning for Students

Consider the student: blended learning

From the keynote speech by Laser Systems Director, Vivette Eaton

Dubai, June 25th 2019

What do we mean by blended learning?

I see blended learning as a three-pronged approach.

  1. Face-to-face teaching
  2. Independent, online learning
  3. Workplace practice, shadowing, and experience

Even in 2019, we are still working with ‘traditional’ methods of teaching. In most countries, education is a set of mandatory requirements and sweeping expectations.

  • Core subjects to be taught are set by the Government
  • Hours students must be in an education establishment are set
  • The emphasis on subjects is set, for example, students will find maths prioritised over music even if this doesn’t make the most of their talents
  • How students can present evidence of learning, knowledge, skills, and achievement is set

These requirements are in place to give the impression of equality, ensuring all students are working to the same expectations.

While there may be a slight difference in teacher style, most young children are learning the same core subjects in a similar learning environment. More than anything, access to funding and resources are what will make the biggest difference to how students are taught, which can often leave some students at an advantage or disadvantage compared to those in other learning establishments.

Teaching students in the same way with the same emphasis on subjects doesn’t account for individual needs or individual taste. It’s important students are given equal access to education and can be taught the same subjects, but teaching in a classroom environment with written assignments for example, will always disadvantage those who don’t enjoy the classroom experience and struggle with written classwork.

It can also mean that students who show a passion and talent for certain aspects of learning or particular subject areas will not be given the opportunity to nurture this from a young age as the education structure favours the status quo.

How can on learning environment suit a group of 30 students?

We know it isn’t possible.

Students, particularly in schools, are grouped according to location and age over everything else. There is no consideration as to whether, as a group, the learning environment will meet their needs.

Even the school day is designed like a work day. This prepares students for a life of work but doesn’t consider how they might learn best. If a student struggles in the morning but learns better after lunch, is consideration given to how their learning is delivered to address this?

How can we ensure we give students the best possible learning experience, giving them the skills, knowledge, and confidence to excel in later life?

We need to meet their individual needs, but not simply the superficial needs. Every student should be given the same opportunities to reach their full potential.

For example, we know from research that teenagers need more sleep than any other age group. Research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in December 2017, found that student absence due to illnesses dropped by over 50 percent with a 10am school start for children between the ages of 13 and 16. This is a significant change at 50 percent and a permanent change to school start times for teenagers could see a huge improvement in attendance as well as overall achievement.

As educators, we must facilitate our students to achieve their goals. This means:

  • Meeting someone where they are
  • Choosing methods of learning that suit their personality and needs
  • Being flexible and adaptable
  • Giving a range of varied resources to learn and practice
  • Valuing initial assessments while also understanding that needs change

We should priorities the things young people need:

  • Independence
  • Respect
  • Options
  • Confidence
  • Positive, trustworthy relationships
  • To look forward to their future

We can become facilitators of this by allowing students to take responsibility for themselves and their learning while giving them the support and guidance they need. Let them tell us what they need and how they learn best. We need to listen and adapt, but as educators we firstly need the funding, time, and resources to do this.

However, we don’t need resources to listen or to flip the classroom and use this format for sharing, understanding, and clarifying. We can encourage learning outside the classroom and gain experience from real life involvement.

Let the classroom be the place students ask questions because they have read things, been told things, discovered things, but haven’t yet seen these things in action.

Similarly, it is important that the time students do spend in face-to-face teaching is:

  • Informative
  • Collaborative
  • Organic
  • Engaging for all students by incorporating a range of teaching styles

In an article published in EduTopia in 2015, they stated:

“According to findings culled from five meta-analyses, blending technology with face-to-face teacher time generally produces better outcomes than face-to-face or online learning alone. An analysis of effective technology use for at-risk students found that simply replacing teachers with computer-based instruction typically yields no learning benefits. Rather, blending technology with teachers to support interactive learning, exploration, and creation leads to higher engagement and learning gains.”

Blended learning allows greater equality, diversity, and representation:

  • Consider the student who lives with a carer rather than a parent
  • Consider the student who is learning in a second language
  • Consider the student who is from a minority background
  • Consider the student who is from a disadvantaged background
  • Consider the student with a physical disability
  • Consider the student with a learning difficulty
  • Consider the student who is unwell

Whether it’s needing extra time, needing access to learning in a specific format, allowing for a wider variety of inclusive examples, or giving students the option to return to sections of learning at any time, blended learning including online learning makes all this possible.

The results reported in the 2018 Educational Technology Journal research article, ‘Blended learning: the new normal and emerging technologies’, found that blending maintains or increases access for most students and produces improved success rates for minority and non-minority students alike. In addition, students expressed they believed the most effective learning environment was a blended learning environment.

Giving students a truly flexible, blended learning approach to learning would include:

  • Face-to-face teaching
  • Peer group collaboration
  • Online learning resources accessed in and out of the classroom
  • Flexible approaches to teaching – not expecting a one-size fits all attitude to give the best possible experience to al learners
  • Regular feedback from students about their own experience and adapting learning where possible
  • Workplace experience or hands-on experience to put learning into context and further develop life skills

The 2018 ‘Teaching with Technology Survey’ which questioned 161 faculty members in the US about their experiences using technology in the classroom found 73% said technology made their job easier or much easier, and 87% said technology has positively affected their ability to teach.

Online learning was initially widely frowned upon, despite offering important opportunities and support to students who were previously struggling to learn. It’s vital we continue to be open to what might be possible tomorrow and not just what we can accept today.

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Laser Learning Learners are at the Heart of what we do

Putting Learners at the Heart of what we do

It was a pleasure to be guests at the e-Assessment Awards dinner on Wednesday in London. We were delighted to find out Laser Learning had been selected as a finalist in the Export to Excellence category last month and now had the chance to celebrate the best of innovation in the sector with other e-assessment champions.

Laser Learning e-Assessment Awards 2019 Finalists

Chairman, Matt Wingfield commented that this year had seen a much stronger focus on the needs of the learner alongside using e-assessment to improve outcomes for learners. This has been at the heart of what we do since the very beginning, and it was an honour to be one of the businesses included in this statement.

In 2019 we have further developments to share, all of which we have created to fully support learners and staff using the Laser, but also to ensure the best possible learning journey for each individual learner.

If you would like to know more about our Laser e-portfolio and virtual learning environment, as well as our range of digital learning resources please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

e-Assessment Awards Finalists 2019 Laser Learning

e-Assessment Awards 2019 Finalists

We are delighted to be one of the three finalists in the Export to Excellence category of the e-Assessment Awards 2019.

e-Assessment Awards 2019 Finalists Laser Learning

The e-Assessment awards programme was launched in October 2016 to highlight and celebrate the outstanding and positive contributions that technology makes to all forms of assessment, and has gone on to showcase the best practice, research and innovation in the sector.

The awards programme holds a unique position, as it encompasses all sectors of education; from schools, through further and higher education to workplace training and professional exams.

The six sets of finalists were shortlisted by six separate panels of highly experienced, international experts.”

The winners will be announced at the gala dinner on the 10th April and we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all those who have been nominated.

Awards which recognise commitment to digital and online learning and assessment mean a great to deal to us as we have been ambassadors for online learning for over a decade, and we believe strongly in the importance of flexible learning that encompasses every learner as an individual.

If you would like to find out more about the Laser e-portfolio and online learning resources, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

A group of apprentices with their Laser Learning goody bags and balloons

Celebrating Apprenticeships

We were delighted to welcome Slough MP, Tan Dhesi to our offices on Friday to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2019.

He joined our directors alongside childcare apprentices completing their qualification using the Laser e-portfolio and online learning resources from Chiltern Training.

The apprentices took part in a short training session using the Laser and then headed back to their work placement with a Laser Learning goody bag. During the session, our team highlighted how their Laser lesson resources were there to support them throughout their learning journey. Each apprentice can access their learning online at a time to suit them, and being able to work through lessons at their own pace also gives them to ability to revisit learning any time.

Laser Lessons allow apprentices to work their way through tutorial videos, reading, good practice example videos, quizzes, evidence opportunities, and case studies. Each lesson gives consistent learning to each apprentice with a virtual learning environment and e-portfolio to provide both blended learning and audit trail.

It is with great pride we celebrated National Apprenticeship Week 2019 as we continue to be ambassadors for vocational lifelong long learning, adult education, and professional development training.

If you would like to find out more about the Laser e-portfolio or Laser Lessons, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Laser Learning Customer Service Apprenticeships

National Apprenticeship Week 2019 – Choosing an apprenticeship in Customer Service

National Apprenticeship Week runs from 4 – 8 March and is a time to celebrate the legacy of apprenticeships, while also taking the opportunity to inform young people and businesses about the positive impacts apprenticeships could have for them.

Our team of educators and writers believe strongly in the importance of lifelong learning and apprenticeships. This is why we work hard to create the best possible online learning resources for colleges and training providers to use as part of their blended teaching and learning approach for their learners.

Why choose an apprenticeship in Customer Service?

Providing the best possible customer service is essential to every business. Whether it’s interacting with customers face-to-face, by phone, or by email and text, it’s integral that each customer feels valued and is treated with the upmost care.

Working in the customer service industry is a varied role and means working closely with members of the public, as well as other businesses. As a customer service representative, you are an ambassador for the company you work for and need to embody a positive attitude with an appetite to solve problems quickly.

You might consider starting an apprenticeship in customer service if you are enjoy working with people and like to bring a smile to people’s faces on a daily basis. If you’re a natural at conversation and putting people at ease, while also good at resolving problems, this is an ideal industry for you.

What will you learn?

An example of a qualification you might complete as part of an apprenticeship is the NCFE Level 2 Diploma in Customer Service, though our learning resources are relevant to the standards for a wide variety of awarding organisations.

Throughout your apprenticeship, your on the job learning will help you develop the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively communicate in the work environment, complete business and administration tasks such as collating data and creating reports, as well as helping you to effectively manage information, and build relationships with your colleagues.

How will you learn?

As an apprentice you learn ‘on the job’ which means you gain hands-on experience from day one. This gives you the advantage of gaining invaluable experience from colleagues and managers in a real work environment. It also means you earn a salary while working towards achieving your qualification, and in most cases your apprenticeship costs are covered by Government funding.

To achieve your qualification you will need to produce work to show you are competent in each of the qualification criteria, which means you will successfully pass each unit. You will also need to show you are competent in your work environment.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you are asked to produced a written piece of work for each of the criteria as there are many different ways to collect evidence for your portfolio. You may also take part in a professional discussion with your trainer, produce reflective accounts, take part in group discussions, produce videos to show your competence, and be assessed via observation in the workplace.

If you are completing a qualification with a training provider or college who use our Laser e-portfolio and/or Laser Lessons resources, you will be supported by a trainer who will guide you through your qualification, set your workplans, and mark your work. They are the person you can contact whenever you have a question about your coursework or need advice about your learning journey.

Your trainer will conduct teaching sessions with you and you can then use the Laser Lessons resources to continue your study during your allocated learning time.

Here’s an example a Think and Challenge created specifically for this qualification as part of our Laser Lessons resources.

CASE STUDY

James takes a call from a customer who is fairly irate as he has been expecting a phone call telling him a product he is waiting some time for is now in stock and will be delivered.

James informs the customer that he knows nothing about the issue, and it is not his fault no one has contacted him about it. At this point the customer got more annoyed and tells James that he wanted to speak to someone in a position of responsibility and would not be using the company again. James then put the call through to his manager.

  1. Do you think the situation could have been handled in a more appropriate manner?
  2. What do you think James should have done?
  3. What would your recommendations be for James to help him be more efficient?

As our resources are online you can access them with an internet connection anywhere and at any time. If you are using the Laser e-portfolio you can also upload work, read feedback comments, and email your trainer at any time.

What roles can you go on to work in?

You can go on to work as a customer service representative, or use your skills to move into other junior roles such as a personal assistant or secretary, as well as finding the perfect industry in which you feel passionate about delivering outstanding customer service representation.

There are also higher levels of qualification you can achieve at levels 4, 5, and 6 which can aid you to move into manager positions or to further specialise your knowledge and skills. You may wish to go on to develop your conflict resolution skills, or develop customer service skills for dealing with business customers rather than members of the public. Developing an outstanding set of skills in the industry could lead to working with exclusive customers in the future.

More about our Laser Lessons resources

Laser Lessons resources are written by subject specialists with vocational experience in their chosen area. Each lesson follows our unique Laser format, giving each learner:

If you’re considering applying for an apprenticeship, look for local apprenticeship vacancies on the Find an Apprenticeship website.

If you are a training provider, college, or business who would like to more about using the Laser e-portfolio and Laser Lessons resources to deliver apprenticeship teaching and learning, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.