This type of learning takes place in an office where the learner is likely to use digital tools as part of their work. The type of technology, tools and techniques that they use usually reflect the type of work being undertaken. Knowledge of what tools they use and what they do within their job role provides the tutor with an idea of the types of new tools and techniques, or maybe even technologies, that can be introduced and used effectively in this environment which makes this learning more meaningful to the learner. This is engaging to the learner as they can see the relevance of what they are doing and learning. Therefore, a more flexible and appropriate method of course delivery and assessment is required, i.e. split over numerous weeks an hour or two at a time. This type of learning allows providers to provide access for learning to individuals in the workplace. This is engaging to the learner as they are not learning in their free time or are having to be released from work to complete training, which has its own pressures (such as catching up with work missed). It is not always possible for employers to release their employees, however, this can cause problems for the learner and their learning. Indeed, some learning then may have to be completed within their own time if this is the case. It is important to note that the internet may not be easily accessible in such an environment for security reasons. For example, the use of certain software (especially if it needs downloading), cloud storage and USB storage etc as well as the access to some sites, may not be accessible or require special permissioning from the employer. An alternative method of internet access in this case can be the use of mobile internet may be required instead in this case. However, the learners may then fail to see the relevance of using such tools, if they can not use them int he workplace, if indeed this is their motivation behind their learning. This can cause inappropriate or disengaged behaviour. Alternatives that can be accessed or access to the appropriate sites for the learning should be discussed with the employer directly in order to prevent this. This may not be an issue as the learner could be motivated by the tools used in other ways, such as at home with children or for hobbies/interests etc.
The tools, techniques and technologies in a work based environment will reflect a learner’s real life experience. Learners can try collaborative approaches with their team members and colleagues. Real time/life problems will present themselves and the opportunity will be there for learners to overcome issues in realistic and relevant ways. Confidence, engagement and motivation will increase by using the new tools in real scenarios, unlike in a workshop environment as mentioned above. Digital literacy learning in the workplace therefore promotes more active and engaging learning by its very nature. The work based environment is well known to the learner making them feel safe and secure, which can be a hurdle that may need to be overcome in a workshop environment, especially because people often do not know one another, this can, initially, have a negative effect on their engagement and motivation. This can also be affected by previous educational based experiences. This can be overcome by several fun getting to know one another activities with or without the use of devices/technologies, tools or techniques. This is unnecessary in the learner's own environment and teaching within 'their' environment may help to alleviate any negative views of education and learning they may have. This will engage them more in the learning. Being in the learner’s place of work may help to overcome a fear of technology as they are in a familiar environment with people they know and technology they know how to use. As such this comfortableness may motivate and engage them to try out another form of technology. If it does not, this should be approached tentatively after a number of sessions when learner confidence is deemed higher. It should be done, as mentioned above as a way of providing an achievable challenge to the learner. The tutor coming into the learner’s work place helps build and foster positive relationship with the learner and employer based on mutual respect (this can help if the tutor needs some internet access issues addressing (again see above)!) All of these aspects can help the engagement of the learner in this environment.
The tutor should be mindful of where the learner works and who with. Are they too close to a colleague, to whom they do not want to disclose any weaknesses in digital literacy. Are they in hearing distance? Is the office noisy, with a loud radio on and hard to concentrate in? The learner may also work better with music playing? These are considerations that should be discussed with the learner prior to delivery and a more appropriate session environment should be organised if appropriate with a view to increasing their engagement levels. This said, a large part of the course is to collaborate with others. If the learner is the only learner in the workplace, then they will have to identify others with which they could collaborate that they trust. They would need to be taught how to use the tool/s also. This has its own challenges as they would also need to be released from their role alongside the learner to work collaboratively. The learner could benefit greatly, however, from one to one attention during other parts of the session, even if this is not an efficient delivery method for the training provider, in this case Educ8. This said (small) group delivery, if it is possible and agreed with the employer, is a possibility. This, however, can provide some of the benefits (in terms of engagement levels) and challenges as illustrated in the workshop format above as it will need to be done in a training room, unless of course there is no more than two or three learners. There may also be issues with the bullying/judgement of the skills and knowledge of others in such a group environment, as there is in a workshop environment. These inappropriate behaviours need to be challenged. in accordance with relevant policies and procedure sin the setting and also the training provider's policies and procedures. There are also issues with accessing inappropriate sites and use of inappropriate language within the workplace (especially as the colleagues tend to know one another and have a variety of different types of relationships). This is against both the workplace and the training providers policies and procedures. With such a small group or individual learner this can be easy to police and, therefore, prevent, unlike with a larger group, however, should the incident occur the matter needs to be addressed as discussed above and also the employer would need to be spoken to about the inappropriate behaviour. Similar strategies like a list of 'rules' and consequences agreed by all parties, as discussed above, could be agreed and put in place prior to the learning taking place, i.e. including inappropriate language use when communicating online or website use. These topics would be explored in the learning accordingly, and would be one of the first sessions delivered in line with the Digital Responsibility strand of the Digital Literacy qualification. As a tutor, you have no control over the set up of the office and its decoration, in terms of how it engages the learners in their learning, however, reasonable adjustments can be made to promote learning. Again, a good relationship with the employer can help a tutor here, especially if a tutor feels that the learning environment could be changed to improve learner engagement and motivation.
Work Based learning setting - a nursery
Educational digital game used with children in a nursery
This type of learning takes place in a nursery where the learner is unlikely to use many digital tools as part of their work but is likely to spend most of their day doing practical tasks. It is likely that any type of technology, tools and techniques used already should assist in the education or/and entertainment of the children that are being looked after and in the daily running of the nursery. Again, knowledge of what they use and do provides the tutor with an idea of the types of new tools and techniques that can be used in this environment. These tools and techniques will engage these learners. Therefore, a more flexible and appropriate method of course delivery and assessment is required again. This type of learning allows providers to provide access for learning to individuals in the workplace. Which, as has been mentioned before, can provide engaging and relevant learning. There could be issues with the internet access, as in an office. Mobile internet would provide the solution to this issue, again with similar issues to those mentioned above. The technology used should be fully charged before it is used as this prevents accidents occurring with cables, wires and plugs and because there is not an array of plug sockets available in this setting because of the health and safety implications with small children. Therefore, the technology they use and are taught on should be mobile and less cumbersome than a laptop, as small children are less likely to reach it if it is hand held and make changes or cause damage to equipment or injury to themselves or others, e.g a tablet or Ipad. Presentation software that has child friendly templates could be a tool used here. In addition, the small seats in such an environment, unless there is an office or staff room available, can cause problems with posture when using a laptop to complete the learning. A tablet or iPad will allow its user to use the tool and technique standing up. This can be engaging, as some learners like to move about when they learn and report that this helps them to learn. In addition, this factor is engaging to the learner as work can be done on the move. However, it should be added here that there may certain requirements, i.e. that the video and camera function on the device should be disabled for safeguarding purposes in accordance with policies and procedures. This said any childcare worker should have had the necessary safeguarding checks completed on them, ICT and safeguarding policies in the setting should be checked before hand on this, however. In appropriate behaviour in this respect, such as the taking of images within the setting should be dealt with with utmost importance. A good relationship with the employer should be established and any incident reported to them should it occur. However, as prevention is better than cure, such issues, as mentioned in the above two scenarios, should be discussed via some 'rules' prior to the learning taking place which include the disabling of photographs and video functions. Accessing of inappropriate sites and use of appropriate language is particularly important in this environment as children maybe around the learning environment. Any bullying (if working in groups) should also be reported, as discussed above, to the employer.
The tools, techniques and technologies in such a work based environment will again reflect a learner’s real life experience. Learners can try collaborative approaches with their real team especially if they are paired with other nurseries, this can save travelling costs and time. This is especially useful if they are managers. Real time/life problems will present themselves and the opportunity will be there for learners to overcome issues in realistic and relevant ways. Confidence, engagement and motivation will increase by using the new tools in real scenarios. Digital literacy learning in the workplace therefore promotes more active and engaging learning by its very nature. The work based environment is well known to the learner making them feel safe and secure, which can be a hurdle that may need to be overcome in a workshop environment, especially because people do not know one another. Teaching within 'their' environment may help to alleviate any negative views of education, which is engaging by its nature. Being in the learner’s place of work may help to overcome a fear of technology as they are in a familiar environment with people they know. The tutor coming into the learner’s work place helps build and foster positive relationship with the learner and employer based on mutual respect. Grouping the learners into small groups, could be problematic due to staffing levels in such settings, so it is therefore unlikely that such will occur and one to one support will be what is required. However, if grouping of learners can be done, again the same challenges and benefits (in terms of engagement and appropriateness) can be found in these settings as in the others discussed above) this would be ore effective to the training provider and could help engage the learners. However, some learners may not wish their colleagues to be made aware of their lack of skill and knowledge in this area. As with an office environment it can be difficult to isolate an area away from colleagues for the learning to take place, as such places as the office desk or staff room do not offer the privacy that some learners would require to be motivated and engaged. As within an office environment, inappropriate conduct and behaviour could be caused if the learner is disengaged in the wrong kind of environment. I such cases, a workshop environment may be better. It should also be noted here that in this environment there has been a divided view as to whether young children should be exposed to technology, tools and techniques to any level because, it has been argued that too much exposure can cause developmental delay and be harmful. This has caused certain settings or individuals in settings to fall behind in digital literacy skills and also affects the motivation of the learner. It is therefore advisable to make sessions even more engaging and useful both to the learner, employer and within the workplace, as well as discussing their usefulness in moderation to the children within their setting. By doing so, you are not discrediting their views, although there is dividing opinions on this topic, yet digital skills remain a topic in many schools. You should try and challenge this view but offer a middle ground by suggesting the use of some digital tools with children but not for all aspects of learning.
In this case, the learner and tutor needs to be mindful that sessions should be delivered without children around. They should be released by their employer to work on these skills whether in the setting privately or outside the setting in a workshop. This is because they will not be able to fully concentrate on the learning if they are repeatedly being called away and being disturbed by the children, whom are naturally curious about the technology and the colourful resources the staff are using and producing. This would be engaging as they are able to take a break from constantly concentrating on the children in their care. As within the other settings it is important to get to know the learner and what they need to use technology, tools and techniques for and what they find interesting about it and not just in the workplace, e.g. with their own (possibly older) children and not just those in the setting, with hobbies/interests or at home etc. This can be the key to providing an engaging environment in which their learning can take place.
A virtual learning environment