eLearning Contributions To Apprenticeships: How Does Microlearning Help?
Apprenticeships are all about learning practical skills on-the-job, right? Well, no, not quite; and eLearning can play a big role in making the ‘boring’ theoretical parts interesting.
eLearning Contributions And How Microlearning Adds To Apprenticeships
eLearning is often only thought of as a broad solution to industry onboarding, staff development, or as a way to deliver distance learning in the community. However, eLearning is often overlooked as an ideal way to deliver training needed by those learners embarking on their apprenticeship journeys. Certainly, where I work, eLearning is often misconstrued as a training method only applicable to those based in remote locations or the unemployed. The true facts couldn’t be further from the truth. eLearning has always been and will continue to be, a fantastic resource for all.
Making EPA Materials Interactive
eLearning has never been more useful within the UK apprenticeship sector than at present. With the recent introduction of endpoint assessment, materials useful to the advancement of a learner’s theoretical understanding of key topics are proving to be almost priceless. For those who may be unaware, End Point Assessment (EPA) means that instead of an apprentice being assessed continually throughout their course, they now have to undertake a final assessment or range of assessments to complete their qualification. The EPA is designed to test whether the apprentice has gained the skills, knowledge, and behaviors outlined in the assessment standard. The EPA can take many forms, for example; tests, examinations, professional discussions, workplace observations, portfolios of work or completed assignments. Learners need materials to help them prepare for endpoint assessment. Making these materials interactive and engaging is where eLearning comes into its element.
The most efficient way to support apprenticeship delivery with eLearning is to break the learning modules down into smaller elements, or microlearning. Microlearning is a highly fashionable buzzword at the moment, and for good reason. If you’re unaware of microlearning, it’s small chunks of interactive learning content that can be completed quickly and can be easily digested. This provides the learner with the regular, frequent reward which keeps the learner motivated. This concept isn’t anything new, yet it has become popular recently and been splashed all over the L&D world, often being referred to as one of the big developments in the sector during 2018. But we can’t forget that this style of learning has existed for a while; BBC Bitesize, for example, made its debut on the internet in 1998, providing small chunks of learning to help those working towards GCSEs. What is new, however, is how microlearning is being utilized. Back in ‘98 a lot of this learning focused on revision for schooling. Fast forward 20 years and microlearning is being applied to and utilized in the everyday workplace. Thanks to a change in attitudes and UK government policy, apprenticeships now form a large portion of workplace training.
How Microlearning Works
Microlearning allows us to deal with each element of a learning syllabus independently, providing the apprentice with a sense of progression and achievement through the completion of small, regular interactions. From an organizational and development perspective, breaking down a syllabus into small chunks provides more flexibility between apprenticeship programmes. Making learning interactions very granular, allows them to become applicable to many different learning programmes and transferable between. This lessens the development requirements across the overall provision of delivery. Take, for example, setting goals and objectives; this is an essential granular element of many apprenticeship programmes. It features in management, team leading, business administration, customer service, as well as many others. In each of these learning programmes the context may be slightly different, but the learning content required is the same. The learner still needs to understand a SWOT analysis, they still need to understand setting SMART targets. Breaking a syllabus down in this way allows us to create a single interaction that can be utilized in many different learning programmes.
In no way do I mean to suggest that an apprenticeship could be completed purely through utilizing eLearning, but rather that eLearning can help provide variety to the assessment process. I firmly believe that there will always be a need for a trainer, tutor or assessor throughout the learning journey, to act as a guide and help the learner achieve their aims, as well as to provide an assessment of practical activities. However, I do believe that eLearning can provide a way for learners to develop the knowledge needed for the theoretical portion of their apprenticeship. By breaking down syllabi into granular elements, I believe that organizations can implement this solution easily and with minimal resource development.