Remote learning: West Suffolk College

West Suffolk College: anything is possible with OneFile

How have you guys found the transition to home working and teaching?

Remarkably, a lot easier than we envisaged. Delivery staff are accustomed to working from home on occasions, so it wasn’t alien to us. Being home based for a sustained period however, was not something that had happened previously and naturally raised some concerns for us. We wanted to mitigate any challenges so we made sure the plan included lots of video contact via Microsoft Teams and Zoom to keep staff and teams connected and the transition went seamlessly. Staff have really risen to the challenge and excelled.

Did you face any challenges as a tutor and how did you overcome them?

Initially, there was a lot of uncertainty from learners and employers, understandably so. A lot of employers closed their physical premises and some wanted to put learners on a break. We needed to act quickly to ensure they knew that West Suffolk College was still open for business, there to support them, and learning could very much continue. We provided a detailed explanation of how we would be able to continue support to employers, which enabled us to demonstrate how home learning would work.

What do your learners think about home learning?

Overall the majority are enjoying it with some actually reporting they prefer this way of learning. Some have found that it reduces their anxiety and makes them feel more relaxed. For our additional support tutors, the perceived stigma associated with requiring support is significantly reduced through remote contact meaning that learners are better engaged. We have had over 25 learners go through gateway and complete end-point assessments through this period so far – anything is possible!

How have you used OneFile to support your remote working?

In many ways, there is similarity to what we have always been doing. We’re following a flipped learning model, so we set learners work that is discussed during in-depth video sessions via Zoom/Teams. We can also record live Zoom/Teams sessions and load these onto OneFile for revision or if a learner can’t make a live session. We can put links to online resources into session plans so learners can access a whole range of materials that we perhaps wouldn’t have usually tapped into. We have found that our approach of focusing on individual’s personal development during this time is beneficial to engagement. Learners can see they are developing resilience, increasing confidence and progressing well.

Are there any features in particular that have helped?

The messaging system has been very useful. By ensuring that staff use this first, then follow up with a text or WhatsApp guiding the learner to log into OneFile, we can track learner engagement through the activity tracker. The bksb integration is fantastic – our learners have used this during lockdown and OneFile tracks this progress which is great. We have also used the announcements feature to communicate with our entire student and staff population. We started with a motivational message from our Vice Principal and are now using the announcements to send out weekly wellbeing advice and guidance to all learners.

Your learners are more engaged than ever. How has OneFile impacted this?

The visual aspect of OneFile’s tracking that really helps. Learners can immediately see they are making progress via their progress bars and can see their 20% off-the-job hours increasing too, which will take the pressure off them when they do eventually go back to work.

How are you tracking engagement?

Using the reporting function, we’ve created bespoke reports that show last learner activity, last engagement with a session plan, last submission of work and the same for our tutors too. It is a fantastic tool. This isn’t something we have monitored as closely before, but we will certainly carry on using this tool when things return to the ‘new normal’.

Lisa Parish, head of quality improvement and innovation / OneFile guru | West Suffolk College


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This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
so this research is to be used at the reader's discretion. OneFile is not liable for any action taken based on this research.