VocTech projects

Ufi has significantly increased the number of projects it has funded over the past two years and a number of our projects are reaching completion and already delivering outcomes. Our emphasis is on projects which are solving real problems – and having real impact. Our current projects include the following:




Blended Learning Essentials

Ufi commissioned Blended Learning Essentials to encourage and support those working in adult vocational learning to make better use of blended learning. BLE is a MOOC – a free, open access course, hosted by FutureLearn, for teachers and trainers in colleges, independent training or in the workplace.

First launched in 2015, evaluation of the initial programme showed the effectiveness
of this approach:
• Over 35,000 people registered for the courses and 52% were active participants,
• Higher than average completion rates, compared to similar MOOCs, at 17%
• Increased confidence in using blended learning reported by participants – from 39% feeling confident with blended learning at the start and 64% at the end
• Doubling of awareness of tools and tech for blended learning from 45% to 90%
From the two original courses (Getting Started and Embedding Practice), the series is being expanded to included two more, Developing Digital Skills and Supporting Apprenticeships.

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Professor Diana Laurillard and Professor Neil Morris, Project Directors
d.laurillard@ucl.ac.uk and n.p.morris@leeds.ac.uk


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Counselling skills for Non-Counsellors - Relate

Relate use their expertise in counselling and counselling training to deliver basic counselling skills training to frontline staff, working with the public in a variety of sectors. This project is building their capability in digital learning, by piloting digital delivery of their popular ‘Counselling Skills for Non Counsellors Course’.

The training solution will be hosted on the VLE Litmos, with a blended learning approach including video based e-learning, discussion forums and trainer led ‘ILT sessions’/web casts. The pilot will be tested with 100 users and their feedback built into further iterations of the programme. Relate have already recruited partners including charities, NHS trusts and legal and housing service providers, who are keen to participate as they can see the benefit of this approach to training their staff.

Through work with Ufi on this project, Relate has undergone a wider process of considering how digital learning, for their workforce, partners and service users, sits at the heart of a wider digital transformation programme, using technology to improve access to their vital services.

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Laura Dowson, Head of Innovation and Development


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Digital Me: Cities of Learning RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce)

Cities of Learning is built around the core idea that a city of the future, mobilised behind a culture of learning, would need to be coherently matched skill-matched by colleges, schools, libraries, museums, employers and youth and community organisations, supported by the infrastructure that underpins a city. The RSA proposes to develop an applied social programme with badges partner, DigitalMe, to be piloted in Manchester, Plymouth and Brighton as a means of testing the potential for using ‘place’ as a focus for engaging vocational learners.

The intention is to mirror the physical community with an on-line community, using micro-credentialing to build links between local employers, learning providers and learners. Learning activities would be provided locally and clustered online. Digital badges would be offered to those completing activities. Participation is aimed at encouraging ‘disengaged learners’ to get involved with locally generated, locally relevant learning opportunities.

Kenny McCarthy


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iDEA - Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award - The Prince Andrew Charitable Trust

This innovative digital badge concept aims to help plug the UK’s digital skills gap, inspiring people to become digital citizens, workers, makers, entrepreneurs and gamers and enabling participants to enhance their workplace skills, access work and progress up the career ladder. The programme is working with employers and learning providers; and with companies to create content. Using a blended learning approach that aspires to be a digital and enterprise equivalent of The Duke of Edinburgh Award, participants take challenges to earn points towards Bronze, Silver or Gold Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award. iDEA badges provide flexible learning, available to anyone, free of charge, when and where they want to learn – for independent learners or in more formal settings. They are available through any device, operating system or browser.

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Kerensa Jennings


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Improving Learning Outcomes - Century Tech

Working in partnership with ACER (the Association of Colleges in the Eastern Region), Century Tech will pilot the use of their AI platform to demonstrate its potential to support learning in FE. They will focus on the impact of AI technology inEnglish and Maths as part of a blended learning strategy for use with learners who are undertaking resits in these subjects, with fully adaptive English and Maths GCSE and Functional Skills content, appropriate to a platform using advanced technology CENTURY and ACER will provide training/CPD to staff to ensure they are confident using the insights this technology can provide. Used effectively, the technology, can provide data on learner progress, identify shortfalls in knowledge and understanding and how best to address these, freeing up the time teachers spend on marking and feedback to concentrate on teaching.

Alice Little


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Unionlearn: Transforming Open Online Learning [TOOL] TUC

Through this project, TUC aims to create a step-change in the use of digital learning by workplace union representatives across the UK. Work-based learning is delivered to 40,000 new representatives annually and supports 200,000 already in place. It needs to move to on-line delivery to become financial sustainable and meet the needs of participants for more flexible training. Ufi is supporting the design and development of web hosted versions of the TUC Education core training programmes, accessible on smartphones, tablets and computers; and the capacity of TUC Education to deliver a more flexible and accessible approach to learning. Importantly, it is also bringing the benefits of e-learning to a much wider audience of 6 million TUC members, the wider workforce and employers, through the influence of the 200,000 union reps. By increasing the opportunities to engage in e-learning and providing a practical demonstration of its effectiveness, this project has considerable potential to influence wider attitudes to digital learning among employees and employers.

Holly Anderson


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Youth Work Placement Platform - BIYP (Believe in Young People)

BIYP is a charity, supporting young people in UK schools to access work by providing an integrated introduction to work, through selected work experience placements and mentoring. BIYP’s digital platform matches work placements to learner skills requirements and measures learner improvement during the placement through learner and employer assessments. Each learner has a personal learning plan and CV, systematically updated to show them how to develop their skills and capability in readiness for work.

Ufi support is enabling BIYP to enhance their platform to reach more young people in UK FE colleges, with additional vocational activities including extended placements, work related lesson plans and employer-led enterprise workshops and employer mentoring. BiYP will reach the additional colleges and students using their existing systems, with field based staff who manage the college and employer relationships.

Tanja Kuveljic


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