... And making degree apprenticeships more engaging
While still a fairly new scheme, degree apprenticeships are opening doors for students to achieve their education goals, while still being employed and paid for their work. Offered since 2015, degree apprenticeships are programmes developed by employers, universities, and professional bodies to offer students full bachelor or master degrees as part of their apprenticeship; combining working with studying part time at a university. This time can be split on a day-to-day basis, or in blocks at a time, allowing the apprentice to tailor the programme to their lifestyle.
A lot of people don’t have the luxury of taking the time to gain a bachelor degree without the security of a paying job and guaranteed employment after graduation – degree apprenticeships help students gain a head start in their chosen profession while investing in their education and future. Indeed, this is an attractive investment for employers as well as they can hire high calibre school-leavers who are keen to earn a degree in a work-based environment, and often result in being incredibly loyal employees. Training costs are also co-funded by the government and the employer, which alleviates the burden on organisations.
The need for flexible learning
Through technological developments, learning is no longer confined to the four walls of a classroom. Students leaving school want to learn on their terms, including when and where they learn, and how they consume content. They want the option to start a programme on their laptop, look in on their mobile phone on-the-go, and continue on a PC or tablet once they get home. The same experience is expected regardless of which device they’re using. This new way in which students are wanting to learn, coupled with the fact that those enlisted in a degree apprenticeship are often time poor. This means a strict schedule or structure to how and when they should learn simply won’t work.
Course content also needs to have an element of flexibility to the way people learn. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to content is outdated. The student body will have a range of diverse needs, so tailored content that can be accessed when and where students need it is imperative for successful degree apprenticeships. Detailed and sophisticated tracking and measurement is also essential for the university to catch any problems before they result in missed learning objectives or even student drop-outs.
How VLEs make degree apprenticeships more engaging
Apprentices are constantly having to juggle their work-learning balance, as well as living a normal life, so they need technology that can easily fit with their lifestyle. By using a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), students can access their learning on-the-go from the device of their choice. It creates a virtual classroom bringing together students who might not necessarily have the time or the resources to travel to a university campus regularly. Indeed, a VLE enables students to create their own apprenticeship communities via features such as e-portfolios. Being able to connect with people in one virtual space gives students the support they need, without having regular face-to-face interaction.
When it comes to selecting a VLE for degree apprenticeships, the student experience is key. A platform needs to have an engaging interface, be easy-to-use and consistent across all devices. Some learning platform solutions may provide an app, for example, but might not necessarily provide the same experience on a mobile device or desktop. Universities need to invest in technology that will help, not hinder, the students in their learning while also allowing them to collaborate and engage with other students and lecturers wherever they are. The right VLE can significantly improve the student experience, as well as create inclusive and engaging online environments that have a wider reach than a university’s lecture hall.