The Content Exchange

Teachers sharing quality curriculum resources and sourcing quality content has been a long-anticipated digital nirvana for both educators and commercial suppliers. Many have tried it but few have managed anything much beyond a subject or special-interest group. 

But the City and Guilds' Content Exchange, an online further education portal featuring both teacher and commercial content and created with funding from the UFI Trust, is aiming to change that. And the good news Is that now the blended learning consortium – a consortium of 56 providers in England have just agreed to be a part of the project, where they will showcase and produce new, professional-quality materials for priority subject areas identified by their teachers. 

Steven Rick, who has been overseeing this project as part of his role as City and Guilds customer planning manager for digital technologies and content, says, "After living out the market recommendation to be flexible and agile and being ready to change at every stage, we are now getting there. We are confident about the service and have now secured mutually beneficial relationships that will help us grow and flourish. 

"We have never lost sight of our primary purpose. Everything we do – and it doesn't matter if you are a principal of a college or a private training provider, a teacher or if you create content - is aimed at enabling learners to pass his or her course, enabling them to move into a job, develop in their job or move into their next job. That's all we are trying to do. We have to remember that we are always there for the learner and we do that by making the very best tools available for teachers to enable this." 

The blended learning consortium, which is headed by Heart of Worcester College, represents about one fifth of the UK 'market' of 332 FE colleges. This is a welcome and powerful kickstart for Content Exchange, the first funding project undertaken by the UfI Trust.

The extended reach is extra motivation for teachers to share their own resources, and for other colleges (in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland too) and commercial publishers to get involved. Schools already have the online resources service of The TES but Content Exchange could appeal to higher education too.

How it works 

The Content Exchange is an online marketplace for learning content and resources. The Content Exchange is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for teachers, learners and professionals looking to source or share good quality content.  We work with partners and individuals to facilitate a content community that caters for all training and development needs, whatever stage you are at in your learning or delivery.

We believe that good content should be shared. We also believe that the time it takes to source and that accessing good content should not be prohibitive to teachers and learners being able to enjoy a full and balanced learning experience alongside other commitments. The Content Exchange is organised in a way that allows you to find whatever you are looking for at a touch of a button, and we aim to provide a wide range of content types to suit all teaching and learning styles.

When he took over the project in 2015 (it started in pilot form in 2014) Steven Rick's first step had been to freeze activities until a thorough technical and business audit was carried out. His feeling was that the project had been drifting towards a business-to-business approach when the absolute priority was a service focused tightly on teachers’ needs. This was something that could not be compromised. A result of this was a change in the underlying technology content management. 

The new confidence from taking this technology step forward has meant that City & Guilds are now able to share some of its other commercial businesses on to the platform. 

It is constantly reconfiguring parts of its considerable range of business units so they can work together more effectively and profitably in light of the changes. For example, Kineo is a company producing e-learning materials and services for business and organisations. Now it could conceivably support the publishing activities of Content Exchange. 

The key to all this is being prepared to change in line with emerging opportunities and managing those changes quickly and without fuss. As Steven Rick puts it: 

“Developing the content exchange is not just about a product or a service, but ensuring the customer is centric to all the decisions made. It is a platform for tutors and lectures, that populate content for each other. They are central to everything the content exchange is trying to achieve.

We are now in a content rich world, were anyone can produce content and share it amongst each other. We are ensuring our platform makes it easy for the sector to do this”.