This week I have had the pleasure of attending the Blended Learning Consortium (BLC) regional meetings in both Nottingham and Grimsby, and as always it was a pleasure to catch up with Peter Kilcoyne and the other colleges attending who are part of this great collaborative group.
For those people who are not in FE and or not aware of the BLC, put simply, it was a consortium a few years ago (I would say quite a few now) by the Heart of Worcestershire College to try and increase the blended learning content being created across the sector by the member colleges paying in a fee and then voting on which content should be created (Link to their website can be found here). The content is growing and from its initial starting group of around 10 colleges the group has now grown to 118 and with each paying in and obtaining a vast array of resources (created via Articulate for the interactive element and also with the inclusion of videos). This array of resources which varies from digital literacy, to numeracy, to animal care which is awarding-body agnostic, is far beyond what an individual college would be able to pay for or create themselves, meaning the group has gone from strength to strength.
Beyond this resource-bank is a network of colleges who meet but also collaborate on projects, which in terms improves the quality of blended learning taking place but also enhances the learning experiences for the students at each member college of the consortium. This week’s events was not a disappointment, and the sharing of best practice and discussions was something which I took a great deal of personal benefit from; as like I have said before, why should we always reinvent the wheel when we can magpie other ideas and take them back to the context of our work?
I was lucky to present at the event about Leeds City College’s journey with Independent learning and how we approach learning to try and stretch learner progress beyond the 4 walls of our classrooms and college buildings. We also shared our experiences of the BLC G-Suite edition app which allows us to have all the content hosted and provides a way for our learners and teachers to track the usage of the content and also the progress by whole classes and individual learners. This app is a great support to the work we are doing and is a must have for any college who is part of the BLC and uses G-Suite as their digital platform.
Peter and his team needs massive credit for what has now become a fantastic source of resources but also a network of teams which support and advise each other.
This consortium shows what can be achieved with strong vision and sometimes ideas which seem impossible or unachievable to others. I think the whole sharing and collaborating agenda is something which needs to be higher up on people’s agenda and people who seek it need to be praised by their managers.