Trust launches 16 new tech-based projects to help boost digital learning in FE

The University for Industry (Ufi) Trust has officially launched 16 tech-based projects that it hopes will revolutionise digital learning in FE.

The VocLearnTech projects, which involve for example augmented reality simulators, 3D printed robots and interactive chemistry platforms, have been backed by the trust with £750K funding.

The launch event held last night (October 8) at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce building, in London, was attended by more than 40 guests from across the tech and education sectors.

Ufi chief executive Rebecca Garrod-Waters told guests that 200 different organisations had submitted applications for funding to develop tech-based education ideas since April, through the VocLearnTech scheme, which was whittled down to 16.

“We have had such a good response this year that we want to make it an annual project,” she said.

“There is something really exciting about each project and they can have an impact on digital learning.”

Ufi trustee and Toshiba education adviser Bob Harrison, who contributed to the FE Learning Technology Action Group (Feltag) report, said the next stage for the 16 projects would be for them to be “commercialised into a product” that can be sold to the private sector and adopted by colleges.

Ray Barnes, chair of the Ufi trustees board, said: “There is risk with these new projects, but if they work then it will be great.

“We will see all of them through to the next stage,” he added.

Ufi launched its charitable trust in May 2012 to help solve the UK’s skills deficit, as reported by FE Week.

Click here for an expert piece by Ms Garrod-Waters on this year’s funding awards.

Main pic above: Neville Rudd, director of Learn TMP at the event


Here are the 16 projects:

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Interactive instructional videos for the land-based sector — Myerscough College:

The videos will be geared at level two golf greenkeeping learners.

An app will be developed to allow learners to access the videos on smart phones.

A Ufi spokesperson said that the aim of the “easily accessible, interactive instructional videos” will be to “maximise access to training and develop new methods of active learning through the use of technology”.


Cuppa – Sarah Dunn Associates

Cuppa will deliver concise, workplace-specific learning resources to social care staff.

A Ufi spokesperson said it will provide “a skills boost in the time it takes to drink a cup of tea”. “Cuppa will use mobile channels, exploiting an accelerating ‘bring your own device’ trend to deliver just-in-time learning to a workforce that is on its feet, pushed for time and not always well-supported,” she added.


Digital vocational badges — Sussex Downs College

The project aims to improve the ways skills in education are recognised and assessed.

A Ufi spokesperson said that the college will take on board the skills, attitudes and evidence that employers are seeking across key vocational areas and encode them into the digital badges.

“These [badges] can be awarded to learners that meet the criteria and shared with employers or via social media,” she added.


CommSim — Learn TPM

Learn TPM is already experienced in applying technology — particularly serious games and simulations — to deliver learning, training and outreach in diverse contexts.

A Ufi spokesperson said that CommSim will “fuse the known ability of immersive simulations, to provide rehearsal of skills in contexts which would be otherwise difficult, expensive or risky to practice in real life, with unique audio analytics to provide valuable objective insights into performance, facilitating reflection, analysis and improvement”.


Badgemaker — We Are Snook

It will provide a simple platform for schools to build, earn and display online standards known as ‘open badges’.

The project will allow young people to “display a range of skills that build upon traditional qualifications”, a Ufi spokesperson said.

“Badges act as a digital form of validation that can be shared with educators and future employers,” she added.


Electronics for Everyone — MakerClub

MakerClub will for example use 3D printing and an intuitive online platform to bring programming, design and electronic engineering to life with a range of robotics kits aimed at the 12+ age group.

“The kits use proprietary browser based technology with mobile, and bespoke hardware to create a seamless learning experience that is tailored to the users individual ability levels,” a Ufi spokesperson said.


Elli-centric — Vital Partnerships

Elli-centric is a learning assessment and development tool based on the Seven Dimensions of Learning as identified at Bristol University.

A Ufi spokesperson said that the project involved the development of “an interactive, user-responsive platform with a suite of innovative animations”.


Frequency Based Learning Platform — Rapid English Limited

The project will aim to improve the flow of information between educators and learners, as well as employers and employees, by changing how all the parties involved relate to the language they use.

A Ufi spokesperson said it will bring “a new level of efficiency to vocational education, course material production and course content management, using a revolutionary combination of linguistic know-how, big-data and machine learning”.


GroupMOOC — Tamarisk Capital Ltd

GroupMooc will help organisations train their staff using free online courses from the world’s best universities.

A Ufi spokesperson said the idea is to “aggregate online courses from multiple providers so they’re all in one place, including an organisation’s own proprietary courses”.


I am Enterprising — The Women’s Organisation

The I am Enterprising app is designed to help build the entrepreneurial capability of learners.

A Ufi spokesperson said that it “can be integrated into courses and extra-curricular enterprise activities”.


Job Packs — PlayLingo

The project aims to teach migrant learners essential vocational vocabulary in a mobile social game designed to keep users motivated while they learn independently.

The target audience is “the almost 1m UK migrants with little or no English as well as migrants who are proficient in general English but seeking to develop their vocational vocabulary to improve employability,” a Ufi spokesperson said.


NanoSimBox — Interactive Scientific

The Nano Simbox is a molecular dynamics tech-based platform.

A Ufi spokesperson said had “been shown, in early stage trials, to engage a wider range of learners than traditional science teaching”.


Target — European Innovation

The project will involve a full commercial trial of wearable technology (in this case smart glasses) (in a manufacturing environment.

A Ufi spokesperson said: “When switched off, the glasses can form a standard pair of safety glasses.

“When switched on, the two head up display screens built into the glass can deliver interactive content directly to an individual as they look at a specific machine.”


The Charity series — GivebackUK

GivebackUK is a not-for-profit organisation creating a free online video learning library for the UK’s third sector.

A Ufi spokesperson said that it is “creating professional, bite-sized video interviews to share work based knowledge and expertise — as well as being popular, research shows that watching this type of video aids learning”.


Voc Qual tracking — Bedford College

The aim is to create tailored modular extensions for qualification progress tracking and personal learning planning.

A Ufi spokesperson said that the modules had been specially designed “to meet the needs of FE colleges”.


The Virtual Reality Personal Incident Command (VRPIC) — West Midlands Fire Service

The project aims to improve training, development and assessment of emergency response incident commanders who work within the emergency services.

A spokesperson said it will “evaluate and support ongoing development of emergency incident commanders and provide individuals with bespoke targeted tools to support their development”.


Photographs by Rebecca Jones and Chris Morley 

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