VocTech Seed 2018 Projects | Ufi VocTech Trust

VocTech Seed 2018 Projects


The following projects have been funded by the VocTech Seed 2018 fund.





Ada - Bolton College

The College identified challenges arising from the nature of their study programmes which means that student often lack ‘on-demand’ access to staff, including teachers, tutors, mentors, coaches and careers advisors. To address this, they created a digital assistant in the form of a chatbot called ‘Ada’. Ada has been assisting students with everyday enquiries since 2017 and can respond to questions about studies and curriculum topics, work placements and employability. This project will expand the service Ada provides, allowing every student at the college access to Ada via an iOS or Android smartphone, developing an automatic marking service to improve each student’s final evaluation of their work placement programme and creating an Ada service for teachers, to demonstrate how chatbots can be used to support teachers by reducing the workload associated with day-to-day tasks required to support students in their care. Eventually, Bolton College hope to offer Ada to schools, colleges and universities across the UK, through an annual subscription service. 

Aftab Hussain, Strategic ILT Lead 


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Better skills better jobs - Learnium

Learnium’s ambition is to develop a new approach to skills development that will engage more learners in upskilling to better paid jobs. The project will focus on hospitality recruitment and training provision. The approach will involve an end to end process of learner recruitment, employer engagement, training and job placement. The innovation is in building a collaborative platform that provides domain skills training, increases engagement, builds collaborative and peer working skills, and engages employers in this process. The platform will incorporate a collaborative pedagogy and machine learning to drive better outcomes. Learnium already supports collaborative learning in HE and will be developing a new product as part of this project suited to the needs of learners with different abilities. 

Graham Taylor, Commercial Director 


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Blockchain, Badging and ePortfolios for Skills - City of Glasgow College

Glasgow College are developing a platform to provide reliable and verifiable digital certification of skills from awarding bodies.  Certificates will be owned and controlled by the learners, enabling them to easily provide trusted ‘proof of competence’ to potential employers, customers or learning providers.  The project has been driven by learner and employer demand for easier, more efficient and transparent processes for verifying qualification claims. The platform combines two existing technology platforms: APPII for digital credential verification (recorded securely on the APPII blockchain) and Google for Education for a lifelong learner portfolio. The Scottish Qualifications Authority are engaged, so the project can micro-credential the components of qualifications in detail, using their existing open online documentation data. Awarding bodies will be able to provide digital versions of trusted certificates, verified by blockchain, for use in a range of digital and social media. This will support better matching with employers’ demand for skills, enabling employees to select and demonstrate skills and experience in a trusted and verifiable manner.  

John Casey, Senior Learning Technologist 



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Carevolution - West College Scotland

The College plans to create a prototype mobile app which will enable homecare workers to access training material between visits or at other times that are relevant and convenient to the worker. The project will include the creation of a multimedia content library appropriate to the roles and needs of homecare workers, by working collaboratively with various homecare organisations across Scotland.   The app will be interactive, requiring workers to respond to visual cues and safely explore the consequences of decisions taken in various settings. The new tool will deliver timely, cost effective training that will upskill the care home workforce in the West of Scotland. Learners’ achievements will be recognised via the use of Open Badges. West College Scotland will work with their network of over 100 relevant Scottish stakeholders including the University of the West of Scotland, Local Authorities, SSSC, regional Health and Social Care Partnerships and the SQA.  

Hannah Wilson, Development Funding Executive 


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Customer Care Training in VR - Elearning Studios

This project will develop a platform to enable vocational trainers (working independently, or for training providers or corporate organisations) to rapidly develop and build customer care VR training scenarios.  These scenarios will allow learners to undertake virtual role play to improve their performance in working with customers. No programming skills or artist work is necessary, making it easy for VET professionals to develop VR content and deploy this out to different types of VR headsets. Virtual reality gives learners the chance to experience and practice dealing with a range of customer service scenarios in a safe environment without impacting on the business.  This helps them to become better prepared for real work situations. The platform will be customisable to deal with situations in retail, financial services, office and leisure environments tailored to the specific job situation and has with scope to develop into any sector where customer care is an important workplace skill.  

Nitin Thakrar, CEO 



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Dental Training app - Blueflame Digital

The project will develop and test a mobile app focused on teaching the key entry level skill of dental charting in an engaging and fun way.  This will provide effective learning for entrants at the start of their training and a refresher for more experienced practitioners. Using game mechanics will improve engagement, make the material enjoyable to learn and motivate the learner to repeat key learning points.  More complicated learning points will be visualised through interactive 3D visuals and animated sequences. Progress will be recorded and reported, and any weaker areas of the learner’s knowledge can be highlighted. The longer-term ambition is to develop a suite of vocational training games for dental nurse training across the UK, to be used alongside the current training methods, delivering content through game mechanics and visualisations to teach more complicated concepts in a more digestible and accessible manner.  Once successful, the project will be delivered through Apple and Google app stores, with the potential for roll out widely throughout the UK and beyond. 

Rich Lloyd, Director/Developer 


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Digital Retail Futures - retailTRUST

The UK retail sector is undergoing structural change which impacts on its skills needs.  This project will create, test and evaluate a digital learning platform to deliver vocational training to address skills gaps identified by retail employers.  It will target employees at risk of redundancy from traditional retail sector jobs and support them to up/re-skill, with an initial focus on the top three skills gaps: digital marketing, digital customer service and warehouse operations. The project’s long-term plan is to provide those at risk of redundancy with access to a comprehensive, flexible, accessible online vocational learning platform.  By incorporating a range of providers, courses, modules and qualifications, tailored to meet learner’s individual development needs, the project has the potential to both meet employers’ skills gaps and avoid the risk of workers becoming redundant.  The retailTRUST’s vision is of a retail sector that is future proofed, with a highly skilled and adaptive workforce, economically sustainable and primed for growth. 

Amy Prendergast, Head of People and Vocational Learning Services 


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Digital SPACE - Nissan Manufacturing UK

The project aims to develop and test an app that will empower young adults to own their development and progress into sustainable careers. The product will consist of four main features which aim to overcome problems associated with high attrition, such as learner disorientation and anxieties during the on-boarding phase, encourage ownership of learning and increase the absorption of learning via digital interactive activities. The project will test the concept within Nissan, focusing initially on the Sunderland based Nissan Apprentices, Temporary Manufacturing Staff and Placement Students and expects to provide strong metrics to show how digital can have a tangible impact on learner outcomes.  If successful, the app will be rolled out across the business and its UK supply chain, with a view to demonstrating the app to industry bodies such as EEF, SEMTA and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance and illustrating the value of digital technology in supporting vocational learning. 

Laura Lee, Admin Officer 


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Emotivate - Self Injury Support

This project will develop a game-based app to enable front-line support staff working in a range of sectors to better understand and work with emotionally challenging behaviour. It will apply real life examples to their learning, improve personal resilience and build on knowledge using a modular approach. The approach brings together skills development, knowledge and reflection on personal practice in an app which will be accessible anytime, anywhere and can be completed in small segments. The app will benefit learners by supporting them to develop improved skills in supporting clients who behave in challenging ways.  There is no training currently available to deal with this specific issue, which is an increasing problem in many settings. It is hoped that the introduction of flexible accessible learning in this area will lead to increased staff confidence, lower burnout and lower levels of relationship breakdown with clients, the net effect of which is to improve productivity.  

Naomi Salisbury, Director 


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Guided Coding Journey - Code Your Future

Code Your Future is a voluntary initiative which teaches refugees to code. Two years ago CYF recruited its first cohort of learners to undertake a 6-month web development programme, coached by a group of professional developers. This project aims to develop a proof-of-concept learning platform to extend and sustain the CodeYourFuture operation and enable it to expand beyond London, Glasgow and Manchester. It will develop a platform that will guide CYF applicants through the learning roadmap involved in the application process for a CYF course. The web application will provide bite-sized instructions to guide applicants through a series of ‘learning cards’. Simple algorithms and feedback forms will be used to alter learning roadmaps of individual applicants to suit their experience and progress levels. The learning path will link to selected content from publicly available resources. Integrated chat systems will connect users to other applicants and the CYF community. Users will be able to connect and build remote working groups with users who are undertaking a similar journey.  

German Bencci, Organiser 


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How do I? - How do I?

How Do I? aims to make the workplace more accessible to differently-abled people, and make vocational training better for everyone by improving delivery of workplace learning. Research with employers identified their greatest challenges in workforce development and showed high demand for video, mobile and micro-learning for vocational learning. To help address this need, the project will develop a content creation platform for employers to create instructional video content, without the version control and other issues associated with platforms such as YouTube. Combining this with an app will enable ‘just-in-time' workplace learning.  The videos will be triggered by NFC (contactless) stickers placed at relevant points around the workplace and accessible to employees using mobile phones. The product is aimed at employees working on the shop floor in industries including retail, hospitality, logistics and manufacturing, which have high staff turnover and large numbers of temporary or agency workers and where staff are at risk of being made redundant through automation.  

Taryl Law, Co-Founder 


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Intelligent Mobile Training for the Construction Industry - Acadmi

The project will test the development of an interactive mobile-first solution for learning in the UK Construction Industry. It aims to deliver a training solution that has media-rich, gamified bite-sized content, tailored to the individual learner’s needs and delivered on-demand through mobile devices. The project will draw on components of Acadmi’s current B2B / SaaS Mobile Learning Platform to build and test a training app - the authoring engine of which will allow employers and training providers to tailor content for their employees. Featuring an interactive video player integrated with quizzes, assessments and social, peer-to-peer assignments as well as user-generated content and a help tab to receive immediate on-the-ground support, the web app will intelligently learn about the employee’s key strengths and weaknesses - delivering daily / weekly content to improve their training engagement rates and retention of information. The longer-term aim is to create a marketplace of content from a curated network of training providers, public bodies and employers - all for employees to access a library of content to up-skill themselves, on-demand and on-the-go.  

Arjun Chatterji, Founder and CEO 


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Journey 2 Basic Skills - Klik2Learn

By working in partnership with Further Education Colleges, this project plans to enable learners to grasp English phonemes, the alphabet, numbers, handwriting skills and digital skills.  Using animation, graphics, audio and games, learners will progress from level A0 to A2.  Through combining visual creativity, imaginative pedagogy and appropriate technology, this project will deliver ground-breaking learning on all devices, incorporating Klik2Learn’s pronunciation tool, Protalk, and adaptive learning. This project will reach two groups of learners who often face barriers to gaining the skills they need to progress: young native English speakers who do not have the literacy and numeracy skills to enable them to access employment or further training; and non-native English speakers who may be similarly excluded from employment and training through inadequate language or educational skills.  The project will work with the National Literacy Trust and the Scottish Government to access these specific groups of learners. 

Ann Attridge, CEO 


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Learning Science - Contextual Maths

Learning Science’s existing Smart Worksheet system supports undergraduates taking science-based courses to develop maths skills.  The existing Smart Worksheet system is targeted at improving understanding of multi-layered calculations and analysis of different data forms. This project will build on this proven technique to develop tools to support newly recruited apprentice engineering technicians with the maths skills they need for the workplace.  The project will research the training needs with the steel company TATA, working with their learners and vocational training staff and use this research to create context specific Smart Worksheets and evaluate them with these vocational learners.  The project will also create a new analytics system, to report and document learners’ progress, strengths, weaknesses and competencies.  The goal is that engineering technicians joining companies from school will gain support and understanding of their maths skills and areas for improvement and that industry has new tools to support their recruits to learn and progress at work. 

Dr Anthony Baldwin, Director and Co-Funder 


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Logo - Pembrokeshire College

Learners often lead busy lives and can struggle to find the time to study while dealing with work, home and family. However, they often may have times when they could be studying whilst doing other things if learning was more flexible.  The LoGo app will enable learners to listen to study materials being read and dictate their own notes, so that they can make the most of the times when they could be studying - if they could do so without using their hands to make notes and answer questions or using their eyes to read.   The project will develop a completely new app, designed uniquely and specifically for the vocational-learner use-case. Features will include the creation of a mechanism to jump between dictating and listening and a new file format to enable educators to add questions and quizzes for learners to answer verbally.  

Dr Geoff Elliott, Learning and Technology Development Manager 


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Readable- Playlingo

Readable is an app designed to help adults learn workplace and general language, initially focussed on English.  It will target those in the UK whose first language is not English as well as those who have English as a first language but need to improve their language to access work and build their careers.  Readable aims to harness short bitesize chat stories to support development of general and vocational language skills with support for sectors such as retail, construction and food.   

The project aims to create the Readable MVP, supporting learners with 20-30 1000-word stories.  It will also provide an authoring tool to support teachers and trainers and a dashboard to monitor key metrics including conversion, retention, and engagement as well as words read and new words learnt. Readable integrates graded reading with personalised word memorisation technology and builds on research around the learning benefits of Extensive Reading, including the improvement in learner autonomy.  

Ziad Dajani, Product Manager 


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RunAClub Employability Skills Development  - RunAClub

This project will develop a digital accreditation tool for volunteers.  It aims to accredit the employability skills people gain through delivery of volunteer social action projects such as sports, music and social clubs. The approach will be initially targeted at young adults who are disengaged from learning or who have not chosen an industry specific route to gaining employability skills.  The plan is to develop badged employability skills accreditation which is portable and able to demonstrate competence to different employers and industries. Once developed, the accreditation tool could be offered to other groups, such as work returners who need to develop confidence and update their technology skills, and other volunteers who wish to get the employability skills they gain accredited, whether they are in work or study. The project will utilise RunAClub’s existing platform and expertise to support the development of accreditation and learning pathways, using technologies including badging and gamification. 

Sally Higham, CEO 


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Signs of Life - Rethink Learning (DESQ)

Signs of Life is a game for nurses and healthcare workers to learn medical observation routines.  The game is played out in a hospital ward or care home, with patients to be observed and decisions to be made. Players record a patient’s vital signs and, as changes in patient’s condition happen, they have to decide if and what intervention is required. The player is interrupted by everyday events and they have to deal with these distractions whilst keeping track of the observation cycle.  

The game can be played in short sessions to fit around players’ busy work schedules and to emulate the practical reality of observational procedures.  The full game will have levels with escalating complexity of clinical problems that need prioritisation, when several problems occur simultaneously. The project will work with The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, The Royal London Hospital and the Medex Group (care home training providers) to test and evidence that it provides effective, safe learning.  

Nick West, Senior Producer 


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Sparkle VR - Iris Speaks

Children who could speak fewer than 50 words at the age of two are more likely to be behind their peers in their vocabulary, grammar and reading ability at 17. Identifying "late talkers" early could allow Early Years Professionals to intervene at an early age with language coaching to help speed up children's development. 1 in 10 children in the UK enter school with a speech, language and communication problem and early intervention is key. 

Iris Speaks aim to develop a mobile learning application which will combine AI, immersive video and VR to train Early Years Practitioners to be able to assess, identify and implement interventions with those children in their care who are ‘late talkers’.   

SparkleVR will be a mobile app with a web back-end that utilises a rules-based chat bot to take the learner through their own personalised learning journey - using a decision tree-based approach for assessment. A range of resources will be used including interactive video, quiz style exercises and mobile discussion forum. To ensure learning is embedded, the app will employ proven learning techniques including active retrieval practice and spaced repetitions.  It will include an analytics dashboard through which progress can be viewed throughout the training programme.  

Zoe Peden, Founder 


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The Web for Classrooms - Wizenoze

Web for Classrooms (WfC) is a SaaS solution directly targeted at students and education practitioners, providing access to relevant web-based information at the right reading level, thereby supporting personalised and flipped learning in the classroom and during independent study. This project will extend the product, currently in use in schools, to support learning in UK Further Education Colleges. Recent research indicates that colleges are struggling to support students’ literacy which can be a real barrier to subject learning.  WfC plans to provide a powerful enrichment feature within digital content for vocational learning, giving learners access to a curated collection of reliable online sources, matched to personal reading skills. By providing access to readable content on a chosen course, WfC aims to support students to gain greater comprehension of specific content, leading to improved vocational knowledge and competencies and enhanced employability skills and career opportunities. 

Leila Walker, UK Director 


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Tripping the Thames - BLTK

The tidal Thames is the UK's second-largest sea port and busiest inland waterway for freight and passenger movements and there is strict regulation of workers using the river and their training. This project will create a VR simulation of the Thames, based around a 360° video which enables learners to study the river. This tool will have embedded information on key features and provide learners with immediate, safe access to the river at any time, without having to wait for an available vessel or tide. The user will be able to point to specific items, revealing further information drawn from traditional two-dimensional charts and tidal stream data, to provide a personalised guide through their river journey. Using digital technology, the time required to experience frequent river journeys is greatly reduced, with significant reduction in the cost of achieving ‘time to competence’ and necessary qualifications and an increase in the rate at which new workers can join working river vessels.  

Blane Judd, Executive Director, BLTK 



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