Progress of e-enablement in FE and sixth-form colleges

Becta

The progress of e-enablement in FE and sixth-form colleges
A briefing on the tracking of colleges‟ implementation of ICT and elearning 2003 - 2007

Steve Davies May 2008

May 2008 © Becta 2008

http://www.becta.org.uk E-enablement in FE

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Becta | Progress

of e-enablement in FE and sixth-form colleges

The progress of e-enablement in FE and sixth-form colleges
Key messages The headline level of e-enablement appears unchanged from 2006-7. Some 25% of colleges were e-enabled and around half were enthusiastic. However, in ambivalent and late-adopter colleges, the situation may have worsened. Chart 1

Spectrum of e-enablement
Percentage of colleges 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% E-enabled Enthusiastic Ambivalent Late adopters

2003 6% 43% 26% 25%

2004 8% 50% 23% 19%

2005 11% 51% 19% 19%

2006 25% 50% 13% 12%

2007 25% 48% 7% 19%

The vast majority of colleges have continued to maintain their strategies for the use of ICT in teaching and learning. These strategies were established in 2000, so the planning process looks well embedded in the college sector. Management activity directed towards ICT also appears to have increased in the last two years, indicating that this planning is being put into action. Detailed examination shows a change in emphasis away from access towards use. Colleges were making greater use of a range of resources and offering support to practitioners. There was greater use of ICT across college programmes and for a wider range of purposes. However, this may have been achieved at the expense of student and staff ability to access the system without problems. The uneven progress of individual colleges over several years illustrates the challenge faced by colleges trying to maintain or increase activity within the constraints set by their budgets. However this analysis also shows that it is possible for colleges lower down the e-enablement spectrum to make rapid and sustained progress.

May 2008 © Becta 2008

http://www.becta.org.uk E-enablement in FE

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Becta | Progress

of e-enablement in FE and sixth-form colleges

The progress of e-enablement in FE and sixth-form colleges
Tracking strategy in action In summer 2000, the Further Education Funding Council (FEFC) required each college to develop an ILT strategy. The following year colleges were required to revise these strategies. All colleges complied with this. By 2007 82% of colleges still had a dedicated strategy that addressed at least one aspect of ICT and elearning (Calvert et al 2008, p27). In most of the others this was addressed as part of a wider strategy.. A written strategy, if it is not translated into action, quickly becomes a dead document. If we are asked to describe an organisation‟s strategy, we look to its actions, rather than to the document on the Chief Executive‟s desk. Strategy, says Henry Mintzberg, is „a pattern in action over time‟ (Mintzberg, 1987). To track these strategies in action, we developed measures of e-learning implementation using survey data collected since 2003. These measured progress across five broad dimensions. Each of these dimensions was arrived at by combining four measures derived from the survey data. All the measures were treated equally. Each dimension produced a score out of 20, and when added together, these dimensions gave an overall score out of 100 for each college. Chart 2 shows the median values for each dimension as they changed from 2003 to 2007. Chart 2

Measures of e-learning implementation
18 16 14 Median score 12 10 8 6 4

2
0
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Access 15.8 15 14.2 15 13.3 Resources 10.4 11.3 11.5 11.7 14.3 Workforce 10.7 11.4 11.8 11.8 10 E-learning 9.7 10.5 11.1 11.5 11.9 Management 11.3 11.3 11.3 12.9 14.6

May 2008 © Becta 2008

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of e-enablement in FE and sixth-form colleges

Taken in turn, these dimensions were: 1. Access This dimension shows students‟ access to the college infrastructure. It tries to measure students‟ experience in getting to use technology at the college. Prior to 2007 these measures of access consisted of: A college‟s nearness to achieving a ratio of five full-time-equivalent (FTE) students to each internet-enabled computer. A college‟s capacity to meet students‟ demands for computers. The capacity of a college‟s local area network (LAN) to meet demand. A college‟s capacity to meet students‟ demands for internet access. In 2007 the first measure was replaced by the perceived fitness for purpose of ICT for teaching and learning, as we were unable to obtain ratio data from the researchers. When we began calculating these measures, access was by far the highest scoring area. A typical college scored over 15 in 2003. However, since then the trend has been downwards - more recently, scores of 13 or 14 have become more typical. There could have been several reasons for this. The change in the one measure was considered as a possible cause, but as all four measures were lower than the previous year, this won‟t have made a great difference, if any at all. Increased use of ICT or greater student numbers could have taken a toll on the college infrastructure's ability to meet the demand from students and teaching staff. Also larger numbers of students bringing their own devices may have created additional demands on the system. 2. Resources This dimension measures the extent to which the college can access, produce and deliver e-learning content. The measures here were: Use of in-house-developed resources. Support for in-house development of resources. Use of acquired resources from a variety of sources. Use of a VLE learning platform. The typical score here increased from around 10 in 2003 to around 14. It shows that colleges have increasingly focused on e-learning materials and especially the use of VLEs. In 2006 we noted that central funding directly targeted at e-learning resources had dried up in 2005-6. However colleges seem to have got over the plateau that may have been caused by this. This score has also tended to be the best predictor of over all e-maturity for a college. The lowest scoring colleges here tend to be in the late-adopter category and the highest scoring in the e-enabled category. Perhaps indicating that to be able to successfully create, obtain and deploy these resources needs a range of skills and resources and commitment from different parts of the college.
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of e-enablement in FE and sixth-form colleges

3. Workforce This dimension describes the skills of the teaching staff and their ability to access ICT for their work. The measures for this dimension were: A college‟s nearness to achieving a ratio of one permanent member of staff to each internet-enabled computer. The extent to which staff having a computer for their own personal use is seen as a priority. Perceived skills of teaching staff in their personal use of ICT. Perceived skills of teaching staff in using ICT with learners. Again due to the lack of ratio data, the perceived fitness for purpose of ICT for management and administration, was substituted for the first measure in 2007. This score has proved to be most recalcitrant to change. The score for a typical college crept slowly upwards over the years from below 11 to nearly 12, but may have fallen back again. While staff access can be addressed in the relatively short term, developing skills across an organisation as big as a college will take time. It is also worth remembering that skills are often a matter of perception - the more we know about something, we become more aware of the things we don't know. 4. E-learning This dimension tries to show the extent to which ILT is deployed for teaching and learning purposes. It combines measures of teacher use with learner support and also looks at the use of ILT at both "ends" of the process, in induction and assessment. This was measured by: The extent to which e-learning is used for induction. The extent to which e-learning is used for assessment. The extent to which e-learning is used for teaching purposes. The extent to which e-learning is used to support learners. There has been steady progress over the years, a typical score (out of 20) growing from less than 10 in 2003 to almost 12. Like the resources measure, the scores also increase significantly as colleges become more e-mature. Late-adopter colleges typically score below 9, while the most e-enabled can score over 14. This is the nearest this model gets to an output measure. It shows that small groups and individual enthusiasts can make things happen in late-adopter colleges, but there are limits to their impact. 5. Management This dimension shows the extent to which ICT is used for management information and the extent to which e-learning activities are planned for at college level. This dimension is measured by:

May 2008 © Becta 2008

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of e-enablement in FE and sixth-form colleges

The ease with which the college learning platform links with the college‟s management information system (MIS). The extent to which the LAN is allowed to be freely used. The level at which the use of e-learning resources is planned. The use of targets to encourage e-learning. Typical scores here stayed at just over 11 between 2003 and 2005, but have taken off since then. The score of a typical college was over 14 in 2007. The recent increases seem to have been especially marked in late-adopter colleges, indicating a greater will to engage with ICT at this end of the spectrum. Overall e-enablement The overall scores produced for each college resulted in a continuum stretching from a minimum score of around 40 to a maximum score of around 80 in each of the four years. Chart 3 shows the percentage of colleges in each of four categories of college taken from a PricewaterhouseCoopers study (PwC 2004). Scores for colleges at both the high and low ends were more spread out than the majority in the middle, making the most and least e-enabled colleges relatively easy to identify. Colleges with overall scores above 70 were therefore designated e-enabled, and those below 52 were designated late adopters. For the majority, however, there were no discontinuities evident in the data, so the median figure (57) for 2003 was chosen to distinguish the enthusiastic and ambivalent groups. We used the PwC categories here because the 2004 proportions closely mapped on to the proportions found in that study. Chart 3

Spectrum of e-enablement
Percentage of colleges 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% E-enabled Enthusiastic Ambivalent Late adopters

2003 6% 43% 26% 25%

2004 8% 50% 23% 19%

2005 11% 51% 19% 19%

2006 25% 50% 13% 12%

2007 25% 48% 7% 19%

The picture here appears to be one of a steady sector-wide progress that has settled between 2006 and 2007. Some 25% of colleges were e-enabled by this time and
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Becta | Progress

of e-enablement in FE and sixth-form colleges

around half were enthusiastic. With ambivalent and late-adopter colleges, the situation may even have worsened. If we look at individual colleges, the picture is much more volatile. It has not been unusual for colleges to drop down a category and climb back up a year or two later, or to improve and then fall back. This may be linked to the fast-changing nature of technology. Chart 4 shows the individual scores for the 42 colleges for which we had data in the four years 2003 to 2006. The colleges are arranged from left to right in the order of their rank in 2003. The light coloured bars show the colleges that improved over that time, their 2003 score marking the bottom of the bar and their 2006 score marking the top. The dark coloured bars show those that fell back. The 2003 scores are at the top of these bars and 2006 are at the bottom. The “tails” on the bars mark any scores that fell outside of this range in the intervening years. A tail on top of a bar indicates that the score rose and then fell back, a tail on the bottom indicates that the score fell and then recovered. Tails on both ends indicate a zig-zag pattern. Chart 4

College performance 2003 - 2006
90.0

E-enablement score

80.0 70.0 60.0 50.0 40.0 30.0 20.0 10.0 0.0

Slightly more colleges improved over this time than those that fell back. Also, it is worth noting that ambivalent and late-adopter colleges moved up the scale far more rapidly than those higher up. So the message is that even though there might seem to be a long way to go, it is possible to make rapid progress.

May 2008 © Becta 2008

http://www.becta.org.uk E-enablement in FE

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of e-enablement in FE and sixth-form colleges

References and bibliography Becta (2006) ICT and e-learning in further education: management, learning and improvement, a report on the further education sector‟s engagement with technology. Coventry, Becta. Becta (2005) ICT and e-learning in further education: the challenge of change, a report to the Post-16 E-learning Policy and Programme Board. Coventry, Becta. Becta (2004) ICT and e-learning in further education: embedded technology, evolving practice, a report to the Learning and Skills Council. Coventry, Becta. Becta (2003) ILT in further education: laying the foundations for e-learning, a report to the National Learning Network Transformation Board. Coventry, Becta. Becta (2002) Managing inspection and ILT. Coventry, Becta. Becta (2001) Producing a college ILT strategy. Coventry, Becta. Becta (2001) The state of ILT in FE colleges, a report to the National Learning Network Programme Board on a survey into information and learning technology (ILT) provision, access and policy in FE colleges in England, with additional information drawn from updated college strategies. Coventry, Becta. Becta (2000) Further education in transition, a report to the Further Education ILT Committee of a survey into information and learning technology provision, access and policy in FE colleges in England. Coventry, Becta. Becta (1999) Survey into information and learning technology provision, access and policy in FE colleges in England, a report to the Further Education ILT Committee. Coventry, Becta. Calvert, N. et al (2008) Measuring e-maturity in the FE sector: a research report prepared by the Learning and Skills Network for Becta. Coventry, Becta. Mintzberg, H. (1987) Crafting strategy, Harvard Business Review, July/August. PwC (2004) Moving towards e-learning in schools and FE colleges: models of resource planning at the institution level. London, DfES.

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