WEDNESDAY 24 NOV 2021 11:08 AM


Matt Brown, director of marketing and student experience at Mindful Education, talks about the rapidly developing digital education market why we need to embrace blended learning solutions.

As with so many other human activities, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for change in education, fast-tracking the integration of Edtech into teaching and learning. Education was adapting to the digital world long before Covid, but lockdown has given learning a huge shove towards the virtual.

Coupled with significant technological advances - including access to faster connections - this means apprentices and their employers now expect and demand high quality online content as an integral part of education and training.

The closure of colleges and training providers during the pandemic led to a form of ‘emergency’ remote learning - teaching had to be delivered virtually but without proper planning and preparation. This emergency remote learning quickly highlighted that the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ format, combined with an over-reliance on online webinars, was resulting in ‘Zoom fatigue’ for learners. The result was often poor engagement and increased drop-out rates. It soon became evident that for many learners, the social aspect of learning was an essential part of the process and that something extra happens when students and their tutor share a physical space.

Training providers and employers are now looking at how they can incorporate the positive aspects of what we learnt from emergency remote learning into their course delivery. For many learners, the ideal solution is a blended learning approach - a mixture of remote and in-person learning, which offers the flexibility of studying online alongside the benefits of being part of a class that meets regularly with a tutor.

Technological developments mean that Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) can not only host reading material and virtual lectures, but can also provide important insights to tutors about how individuals are performing. These analytics allow tutors to adapt their teaching to ensure that learners get the best outcomes possible from their studies.

Edtech is a rapidly developing market which is revolutionising how students learn. For example, with digital tools it is no longer necessary for students to learn at the same time as each other, which means there is more flexibility in how, when and where learners can study. Experts are pointing to the so-called ‘flipped-blended’ learning approach, where students study online lessons in their own time, then attend classes with a tutor to help them embed what they’ve learnt.

As specialists in blended learning, the team at Mindful Education felt we were in a position to do something positive to assist training providers and their learners during the Spring 2020 lockdown and college closures.

We made a decision early in March to offer our online accounting courses - AAT Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 - free of charge to colleges and training providers across the UK. 122 colleges and training providers took up our offer, with over 6,000 apprentices and part-time students registering for access to our VLEs. The Mindful Education team provided full technical and academic support to all of the colleges and providers who took up the free-of-charge offer.

One of the many positive outcomes of our free of charge offer was that learners and tutors were exposed to high-quality online learning for the first time, and they quickly appreciated the benefits it brought. This led directly to many of these colleges and training providers contacting Mindful Education and becoming delivery partners on a permanent basis.

Our experience through the pandemic and beyond has reinforced our belief that learners still value a face-to-face element in their education and training, but that they also highly value the flexibility that is offered by a high quality blended learning solution.