The Web for Classrooms - Wizenoze
Blog by Bogdan Urse, Project Account Manager for Ufi Charitable Trust, 15th July 2019
At Ufi, we are very aware of how lack of literacy and numeracy creates barriers to learning for work, so we were pleased to meet Wizenoze during the application and grant process of our 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 and modern classification of online and digital text. The product supports personalised and flipped learning in the classroom and during independent study. It is already in use in schools and Wizenoze wanted to know if WfC could also support learning in UK Further Education Colleges.
Recent research indicates that colleges struggle to support students’ literacy, which can be a real barrier to effective subject learning. 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 readable content 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 was pleased to fund this project that 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 dynamic 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.
Because of Ufi’s flexible and supportive funding approach, 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. These findings, together with exciting new tech like that available from Wizenoze, is important in maximising learning impact, supporting new entrants to be more work ready, and improving the flow of suitable new employees into a wide range of industries and sectors.