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Section 4. Supporting learners to achieve through blended learning

Meeting the individual needs of learners

 A blended learning approach is not suitable for all learners. Factors affecting success include:

  • level of LLN skills – many providers’ blended courses and online materials focus at Entry Level 3, Level 1 and 2. Learners with literacy skills below Entry 3 may struggle to study effectively on their own;
  • ICT confidence and access if e-learning is used;
  • confidence and maturity as an independent learner;
  • personal preferences.

There are number of elements that should to be in place to meet the needs of learners using a flexible model. These include:

  • learners being placed on the appropriate course following initial assessment;
  • a suitable induction;
  • providing the right level and type of support for the learner;
  • a detailed Individual Learning Plan (ILP) that the learners understand;
  • learners getting regular feedback on their progress.

Induction

 A thorough and detailed induction, usually delivered face-to-face, has been identified by many providers as crucial to successful blended learning.

The Move On Up E-tutor Guide 

Page 14-15. This section on Induction includes a sample ICT assessment questionnaire.

Castle College Student Guidebook

This sets out the requirements and expectations for learners and gives full details of the course structure.

Building in support for the learner

Providers have identified the need for regular contact to maintain learner motivation and commitment. Peer support from other learners, friends, 'buddies', supporters, mentors, Union Learning Representatives, line managers, supervisors, and vocational assessors can all play a very important role, as well as support from Skills for Life tutors. Support can be face-to-face or through a variety of other media, in real time or asynchronous.

Move On E-tutor Guide

Page 14 -19 explores both tutor and peer support and the range of technology that can be used.

Wirral Lifelong and Family Learning Service

A training programme for numeracy ‘learning buddies’ to support flexible learning in the workplace.

Our main finding is that learners welcome a flexible approach and are able to work independently, but that regular tutor and peer contact are essential to maintain motivation.

Cumbria University

The face-to-face contact was important to strengthen the learner’s identification with tutor and peers, to enhance support, build in a social element and peer support, and to support retention. Following initial assessment and induction, support was provided mostly by computer mediated communication (CMC) methods, using tutor-led message boards for group discussion activities, revision pointers and tips, and a Personal Messenger for more private correspondence between individuals. Using learner and tutor photographs helped to personalise interactions and reduce feelings of isolation.

Wirral Metropolitan College

Comments from Developing Models of Flexible Delivery of Skills for Life Provision