Adaptive and Flexible Learning at Skills4Stem

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Adaptive and flexible learning is best described as custom learning experiences that help to create environments designed to help learners thrive academically. It is centred around identifying the needs of a learner and delivering a teaching experience that is best suited to them. Unlike traditional teaching, it creates personalised learning opportunities and has continuously proved to be beneficial. These methods of teaching allow room for adaptivity and flexibility, whilst maintaining high levels of engagement.

Adaptive learning is imperative for understanding the unique requirements of a learner. This form of teaching takes the individual needs of a learner into consideration, and seeks to address differences in ability by targeting different teaching methods. This helps to identify what works best for a learner, and more learners are finding themselves reaching their educational goals as a result.

In most cases, adaptive learning uses technology to enhance teaching. The use of technology that provides information, such as knowledge or behavioural patterns of a learner, has made it possible for adaptivity to be achieved through online learning. In the case of Skills4Stem, one way we adopt adaptive learning is in the form of online assessments. This helps us with identifying the strengths and weaknesses of our learners, and allows us to deliver more customised learning experiences.

Flexible learning permits learners to have complete autonomy in regard to how, what, where, and when they learn. Learners are able to decide when it is best for them to learn and the content they choose to study. This method of learning includes the variety of settings that teaching can take place in, such as the classroom or at home. This allows learners to fit their personal lifestyles in with their studies. Research has shown that flexible learning can lead to increased retention of teaching content and better results.

Skills4Stem recognises that each of our candidates have their own individual learning styles and educational needs. We know that the “one size fits all” approach is not an effective form of teaching. As a result, we have adopted a range of adaptive and flexible methods to ensure that we are delivering in date teaching that is accommodating to all of our learners. This is our unique selling point, and we strive to make sure that our technical Construction, Engineering and Project Management learning programmes are accessible to everyone.

We are particularly keen on helping our learners who may not have coped well in traditional education. The school experience may leave many feeling apprehensive. That is why we ensure that apprentices are aware of what sets us apart from other educational institutions. Skills4Stem is here to provide reassurance and give our learners faith in other forms of learning.

How does Skills4Stem offer adaptive and flexible programmes?

From the moment a learner is first accepted onto a course, we take them through a series of processes to allow Skills4Stem to better understand their needs and the resources we can use to help them achieve their qualification.

We begin this process with a 1-1 interview often led by a member of our onboarding team. This is an informal interview that gives us the opportunity to learn more about an apprentice in terms of their strengths and ambitions. We also use this time to ask the apprentice if they have any difficulties with the learning process or our delivery methods. Recognising requirements this early on allows us to make any necessary arrangements.

The Cognassist test is an online assessment commonly used by educational providers. This platform helps Skills4Stem identify an apprentice’s learning style by asking them to complete the test. The Cognassist assessment analyses 8 different cognitive skills within the learning process, such as memory or language. Again, this helps us to determine any needs an apprentice may have and allows us to provide support where necessary. Alongside the help we provide, the Cognassist platform itself has online courses available to learners that can help to further improve their skills.

We also take apprentices through a KSB skills scan during the onboarding stage and continue to do so throughout the programme. This method of adaptivity involves our learners undergoing a self assessment to test their knowledge, skills and behaviours, relevant to their chosen qualifications. Learners will be able to review their progress, celebrate their successes and identify any room for improvement.

Skills4Stem also embraces ‘on-the-job’ training as another form of adaptive learning. On-the-job training is best described as learning taken outside of the daily requirements of an apprenticeship. It gives our candidates the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge, which will ultimately help them to achieve their qualification. We work closely with each employer to ensure that the learning material we provide is relevant to a job. This then helps the employer arrange shadowing opportunities for the apprentice to help put their learning into action. At Skills4Stem, it is also our responsibility to ensure that apprentices spend a minimum of 20% of their time at work, focusing on their training.

The basic functional skills of our learners will also be assessed. All learners will be asked to complete an English and Maths assessment. This offers us an insight of abilities in areas such as reading, punctuation, spelling, addition, measuring, etc. Any areas that a learner struggles with will be met with support.

We like to offer a range of apprenticeship delivery methods according to whichever works best for the learner. These include face-2-face trainer led classroom sessions, webinars, assessment workshops and blended online learning. Studies have shown that flexible learning has led to an increase in engagement from learners, and our methods allow the opportunity for learning to be more efficient.

Employer Liaison involves us working closely with employers to gain an understanding from them about what we can do to help an apprentice during their journey. Skills4Stem ensures that we communicate and involve employers in the apprenticeship process, by keeping them up to date on information such as assignment dates. The end goal is to create a valuable learning experience.

We also create a three way relationship between a learner, their employer and us. Similarly to employer liaison, we provide regular updates to employers in the form of periodic progress reports.

Skills4Stem offers Additional Learning Support (ALS) through our support teams. We provide help on academic issues as well as the mental health of our learners. This support is not just aimed at learners who may face any sort of difficulty, but is available to anyone who feels they may benefit from these services. Learners are given the choice to either reach out for help or drop into an ALS session.

We also differ from most traditional education providers as we provide personal and professional development modules alongside our educational content. These modules cover topics such as professional processes, goal setting, wellbeing and equality. This is done with the purpose of preparing our learners for their careers, equipping them with tools and skills that can aid them with their future development.

The future of learning

COVID-19 has greatly changed the ways in which people are now working and learning. The ongoing pandemic has significantly contributed to the amplification of flexible learning in educational institutions. As a result, more people are becoming comfortable with the idea of studying remotely, and adaptive learning as a form of teaching has become a growing trend.

Learners are now more than ever in control of their own learning experiences. Adaptive and flexible learning allows learners to study at their own pace. Not only does it offer more control of their learning, it also instils more confidence and leads to greater levels of success.Traditional education does not cater to individual learning styles in the way that adaptive and flexible learning can. Allowing learners to experiment with different styles enables them to gain the most from their education. Skills4Stem hopes to continue to embrace more of these changes.

Adaptivity and flexibility is carried out across the company, not just with our learners. We ensure that all our employees have the opportunity for development within the organisation, and this is achieved through opportunities like weekly 1-1s and training. 

Embracing adaptive and flexible learning has the ability to elevate teaching, and we will continue to provide learning experiences that everybody can benefit from.

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