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How One Awards is helping Colleges and Learning Providers help retain Access to HE Students

11th January 2018 Date of publication

 John Earland, Access to HE Manager

Gathering feedback over the past few years and, as a result of our work with colleges up and down the country including colleges in the North East, North West and Yorkshire, we understand that more and more providers are looking to their AVA to help them develop their Access to HE digital and online learning opportunities. Not everyone is attracted to a ‘one size fits all’ ready-made Access to HE solution and for good reason, not least because a provider is rarely able to influence the design of the Diploma or even the content.Most providers opt for an in-house personalised approach via blended learning.

Looking at the current landscape, online learning is increasing in popularity but that landscape is highly varied.Whilst it suits some, it’s not for everyone and the use, in as far as Access to HE students go, should be explored carefully. However, with mature students entering university now representing a third of the entire intake (up from just 10 per cent in 1980), demand for Access to HE Diplomas remains high and an online solution could help in both increasing your student numbers and improving student retention.

Generally, Access to HE students aren’t always able to rely on the family support systems available to the typical sixth form student, with most juggling other commitments (jobs, mortgages, children, elderly parents) with their pursuit of learning.Access to HE retention is almost certainly lower as a result. There are many ways in which providers try to help improve this but there is a limit to what can be done.However, there is a possible solution that just might tip the balance to keep college managers happier.One solution could be the use of meaningful online engagement.

One Awards realised some years ago that online study is an attractive, useful option for adult learners who often need additional flexibility, resources and planning to gain their university place via intensive Access to HE qualifications. But as I stated earlier, on its own as a distance learning activity, this approach isn’t for everyone.However, a blended learning strategy, implemented correctly, using the latest digital technologies and interventions, might just tip the balance in your favour. And, the good news is, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, energy or money.All that’s needed is an open mind and the creativity and enthusiasm to try new things.

We, at One Awards, strongly believe that those who are forced by age and circumstances to overcome more challenges on their journey into higher education should be helped as much as possible.After all, Access to HE qualifications are only meaningful and life-changing if students can actually complete them and progress to undergraduate study. Effective online interventions and support can bring about real improvements and benefits to the student experience, which in turn can result in improved retention and achievement figures.

One Awards encourages the use of digital technologies in all its forms in the classroom to make learning as easy, rapid, relevant and impactful as possible.This also includes online assessments and online portfolios. One Awards is even exploring the use of innovative e-learning strategies such as the use of gamification activities, the use of apps and the use of micro-credentials (digital badges).As mentioned previously, none of these things in isolation will have any real impact, but combined together in a seamless way weaved throughout the Diploma delivery and assessment, improvements can be made which enhances the student experience and improves student engagement.

One Awards are highly experienced in email, social media and teleconferencing in education and the workplace - and are expert in maximising communications between learners and tutors through these routes (all the while investigating tomorrow’s breakthroughs, as well as innovating our own).

We have built on all of these to develop an ambitious, wider blended study approach that benefits students by personalising every course for each of them – always making for the perfect individual match. It all adds up to inspiring and empowering learners to achieve their Access to HE Diploma and gain the university place they deserve.

One Awards is committed to helping our providers enhance their already established blended learning offers and working closely and collaboratively with those who are still developing them.One Awards are fortunate enough to have highly experienced online learning experts to help lead the way.Close engagement with our member organisations also means that good practice and expertise is shared to the benefits of all.Providers and students also benefit from a broad range of diploma courses; some 70 and counting - boosting their university options and increasing their chances of going the distance.

As part of our rolling engagement programme with colleges across the North, a series of half-day presentation events explains the role of One Awards e-tech in student retention – as well as the many other benefits of switching to us as an AVA.

Upcoming diary dates are Calderdale College, Halifax, 24th January and Jury’s Inn, Manchester, 25th January. Sessions will run from 10.30am - 12.30pm, where our representatives will answer questions and provide insights into how technologies can be embedded in teaching and learning approaches through qualifications with One Awards.

Book your place at Calderdale College, Halifax on 24th January 2018

Book your place at Jurys Inn, Manchester on 25th January 2018 "

And if you’d like us to present at your learning centre, or find out more about One Awards’ online learning project, please get in touch at (john.earland@oneawards.org.uk).

We believe that by working closely with FE colleges, we can help slash the number of talented, hard-working, deserving learners missing out on a university place through lack of support – and we want to start a conversation with you about this serious issue.

Find out more about us at http://www.oneawards.org.uk/

In addition, we are keen to gather information from colleges about their achievement and retention needs. With that in mind, we would be grateful if you could answer the questions in this survey.

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