Helen Pettifor explains how the Education and Training Foundation hopes to serve the FE and skills sector with an online presence it hopes to develop further.

Like many other personal and professional activities, as the internet becomes more and more a part of our daily lives, the demand for online training and development as part of a blended approach to learning continues to grow.

People like e-learning because it gives them instant access to a wide range of current information, enabling them to supplement and build upon their face to face learning, personalise their approach to continuous professional development (CPD), and research specific areas of interest at their own pace.

This is particularly important to an organisation like the Education and Training Foundation which exists to enhance professionalism and drive up professional standards.

We need to know what works, what does not work and what could be improved as well as what people think we absolutely must keep and continue to develop

Professional learning lies at the heart of everything that the foundation sets out to deliver and achieve, and it naturally follows that the foundation should offer a range of online resources and web services that maintain teaching and learning excellence, enhance leadership and that contribute to the continuing professional development of people working in the sector.

Some of these services, such as the Excellence Gateway, Learning Environment and FE Advice service transferred to the foundation from the Learning and Skills Improvement Service and this transfer of services provides an opportunity for a review to make sure that what we offer continues to best meet sector needs and is as easily accessible to as wide a cross section of users and practitioners as possible.

We already know that each online service has a loyal community of users, and like the sector itself, the content on each different site is diverse with many specialist areas, collections and web domains, which are used differently by different people. But feedback has also shown that the range of resources available is not clearly understood by everyone, and that key useful content such as the English and Maths hub, up to date information about teaching qualifications, Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning case studies, management toolkits and free courses are not promoted as well as they could be.

Of course, to develop and promote the services in a way that meets sector needs, it is important that we continue to hear and understand the range of diverse and representative views.

We need to know what works, what does not work and what could be improved as well as what people think we absolutely must keep and continue to develop, and what is becoming less useful as our learning styles and opportunities evolve.

With this in mind, a sector-nominated project board and advisory group has been set up to develop options for consultation, and we have put a range of initiatives in place to ensure that we consult widely across the sector and gain views at every level.

We will ask users what improvements they would like to see, and our aim is to create a new service of demonstrable value to the sector and which enhances its reputation.

Lots of changes will be made as we move through the review process over the coming months, and we have committed to building on what works and what is valued by existing and potential service users.

Your voice matters and sharing your views need not be time-consuming — there are a variety of opportunities to get involved, either directly through short onsite surveys or indirectly through more detailed focus groups which will be led by the sector membership bodies. If you use any of the sites regularly, please do take the time to tell us what you think.

We hope that people will see quick wins as well as long term improvements following the review process, which will continue until March, when the transition to new services will begin.

Service will be maintained as normal while the review, consultation and transition to new services takes place. Please keep an eye on the foundation website for further information.

Helen Pettifor, interim lead for the digital estate, Education and Training Foundation