VocTech Seed Case Study: Wizenoze
Blog by Stephen Hinde, Community Manager for Ufi VocTech Trust
Ufi VocTech Trust is very aware of how lack of literacy and numeracy creates barriers to learning for work and were pleased to meet Wizenoze during the application and grant process of the VocTech Seed 2018 funding round.
Wizenoze's Web for Classrooms (WfC) solution provides access to relevant web-based information at the right reading level for the learner, with tech focused on the readability of online and digital text. The product supports personalised learning in the classroom and during independent study. It was already in use in schools and Wizenoze wanted to know if WfC could also support learning in UK Further Education Colleges - which is why they applied for VocTech Seed funding.
Although digital textbooks do exist, they are often simply flat text and do not always signpost students to the additional internet resources necessary for effective learning. By providing access to content suitable to an individual’s reading age on a chosen course, WfC aimed to support students to gain greater comprehension of specific content, leading to improved vocational knowledge, competencies, enhanced employability skills and career opportunities.
Ufi funding enabled Wizenoze to test two main ideas in order to evaluate the impact of their WfC search tool with vocational learners studying for BTEC Level 2 and 3 qualifications.
- Would the integration of curated web content via WfC, within digital textbooks, support more productive education and result in better learning outcomes for vocational students?
- Would the wider use of WfC as a stand-alone search tool in college resource centres support better learning outcomes for vocational students?
Their testing showed that WfC does have the potential to help vocational students make significant learning gains but it also uncovered new development needs for the vocational education sector.
The pilot revealed that vocational content from employers and professional bodies for new entrants into the sector is difficult to find online. Feedback from the educators and students involved in the pilot suggested that this is partly because there is just not much relevant content out there; and partly because existing vocational/technical content is commonly written at the highest reading level. This makes comprehension of the latest workplace learning materials difficult for many college students.
Ufi’s flexible and supportive funding approach meant that Wizenoze were able to rapidly deploy their solution and test out their research hypotheses in a project that took under four months to complete. They were able to quickly uncover highly relevant ‘pain points’ within the vocational learning environment and are now focusing on a potential solution to address these. The findings also highlight the need for vocational authors to shift their approach to producing content that uses less complex language to improve comprehension and make information more accessible.
VocTech Seed offers £15,000 to £50,000 in funding for innovative uses of digital technology in vocational learning and is suitable for early-stage ideas, proof of concepts, and user testing.
Ufi's VocTech Seed 2020 funding call is open for applications until the 13th February 2020 at 5pm.
Find out more about our funding rounds and how to apply by visiting https://www.ufi.co.uk/funding-rounds-2019