The Need And Importance Of Learner Management Systems Education Essay

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Introduction

I have worked in the Work based Learning provision and hence understands the need and importance of learner management systems... without which the whole system will be in mess. There is a lot of compliance requirement as the programmes we provide are mainly funded through the SFA(Skills Funding Agency) or ESF (European Social funding) and inspected by the Ofsted. It is not possible for a single person to remember or coordinate all these things hence there is a need for a LMS which will remind you to do the various things, generate appropriate reports, coordinate between the learner, employer, tutor, awarding body and the funding body.

Work Based Learning has been defined nationally as 'Learning for, at or through work'

Learning for work broadly encompasses 'anything which can be labeled 'vocational' as delivered in school, college, sandwich courses, in BTEC Nationals in hairdressing/beauty and fashion, mechanical engineering, arts and visual, or even health, child and social care.

Learning at work as related to training and development delivered in-company such as Business management skills, customer service, health and safety; and

Learning through work that includes the application of job-related learning (possibly acquired elsewhere) and the skills and knowledge acquired in the process of doing the job such as sports coach, care work, mechanics.

Work Based Learning is one of the most popular flagship of the current and previous governments.

The levels of poor attainment of skills in the education sector had become a serious matter of grave concern. More and more children were leaving school without any skills, requisite knowledge or direct vocational experience. They were largely unemployable due to poor literacy, numeracy, scientific and ICT skills and constitute a huge social liability, which was manifested by their involvement in anti social crimes, or poor negative behaviour patterns, leading to explosions of their admissions into secure corrective penal institutions. The lack of skills of the Youth in United Kingdom is also a major headache to industry and employers. Rather than engage in never ending blame gain, the new Government has launched initiatives that appear to continue with known policies of encouraging work based learning mainly Apprenticeship schemes to be equipped with the vital skills needed to be gainfully employed.

This study relates only to the funded work based learning provision, all of which are in scope for inspection by Ofsted ( Office for Standards in Education) and audit by the funding bodies like SFA (Skills Funding Agency), ESF (European Social Funding) etc. The processes involved in the Work based provision are much complex than the normal training colleges, also as they are funded provision they need to maintain evidence that the money given by the funding bodies have been spent correctly as by the eligibility guidance and the project guidance. Work Based Learning provision involves three main players - the provider, the employer and the learner.

As the complexities kept increasing the providers felt it very difficult to manage effectively the whole process this gave rise to the need of a learner management system(also known as management information system) to administer and manage the whole process effectively and also to reduce staffing cost and errors. Today there are lots of software which are used by the WBL providers in UK, the main being PICS by pellcomp software and Maytas by Tribal.

Learner management system does the job of the manager... it is not just for managing the learners but also for assisting the provider for record keeping, reporting and for communication between the employer, provider and the learner.

Learner Management system has always been confused with the e-learning but actually LMS is a part of E-learning.

By 'e-learning' we mean: 'The delivery and administration of learning opportunities and support via computer, networked and web-based technology to help individual performance and development' (Pollard and Hillage, 2001).

There are various technologies which contribute to e-learning for WBL providers namely:

Learner Management System - for managing learner, employers, teaching staff and for various compliance requirements

Learning Content management system - It involves development, management and publishing of the content that will typically be delivered via a Learning Environment

Learning Environment - Learning Environment is a environment where learners and teaching staff can interacts. VLE is a type of web-based learning environment which brings together in an integrated environment, a range of resources that enable learners and staff to interact online, and includes content delivery and tracking.

Learner Assessment System or E-portfolios - for online testing or assessing learners

A lot of research has been done on E-learning and VLE and also Becta has been doing research on the e-maturity of WBL providers, Becta research has greatly influenced this research and also relevant data has been used from the Becta research as a secondary data which has formed the part of finding of this research.

RESEARCH AIM

The aim of the proposed research is to investigate the user satisfaction of the Learner Management System used by the funded Work Based Learning Providers in Greater London.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

Its specific objectives are to:

Identify trends for WBL providers in their usage of Learning Management systems

investigate the impact of Learning Management systems on the overall quality of provision

identify for what different purpose is the LMS being used by the providers

investigate the level of staff skills in the use of LMS

identify whether time spend by the user using LMS has impact on the user satisfaction

identify how cost effective the LMS system is and what impact it has on user satisfaction

RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

The user satisfaction of the Learning Management systems amongst funded Work Based Learning providers depends on the following variables -

Users skill

Cost effectiveness

Functions the LMS supports

User Skill will include how competent the users are in using the Learning Management system which in turn will depend upon their general IT or software skills and also for how long they have been using the system and how often they use the system.

Cost Effectiveness will include the actual cost of the LMS , time saved by the users using the LMS, the reduction in the labour cost and the error reduction

Functions the LMS support will include how helpful the LMS is in supporting through the various processes of WBL, how well integrated it is with other sytems

A user will be more satisfied with the LMS if he/she is more skilled

A user will be more satisfied with the LMS if it is cost-effective

A user will be more satisfied with the LMS if it support more functions

Research Background:

A growing trend of education and training in UK is Work based Learning where employees, especially young ones, are provided various forms of opportunities to develop and improve their numeracy, literacy, ICT, customer service and other related technical and vocational skills, knowledge and practical industrial know how. It is widely acknowledged that to help businesses to succeed in this time of economic challenge, it is vital that employers invest in skills. Training increases productivity in the short term - and employers who don't train are two times more likely to fail than those who do. Research shows that three in four business people (76%) believe that their organization would not succeed without investment in training, hence Work Based Learning is a very important form of learning.

Apprenticeships and Train to Gain are two most important funded work based learning programmes ..

Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices (or in early modern usage "prentices") or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships. Most of their training is done while working for an employer who helps the apprentices learn their trade, in exchange for their continuing labour for an agreed period after they become skilled. Theoretical education may also be involved, informally via the workplace and/or by attending vocational schools while still being paid by the employer

Apprenticeships have a long tradition in the United Kingdom, dating back to around the 12th century and flourishing by the 14th century. The parents or guardians of a minor would agree with a Guild's Master craftsman the conditions for an apprenticeship which would bind the minor for 5-9 years (e.g. from age 14 to 21). They would pay a premium to the craftsman and the contract would be recorded in an indenture. In 1563, the Statute of Artificers and Apprentices was passed to regulate and protect the apprenticeship system, forbidding anyone from practicing a trade or craft without first serving a 7-year period as an apprentice to a master.

From 1601, 'parish' apprenticeships under the Elizabethan Poor Law came to be used as a way of providing for poor, illegitimate and orphaned children of both sexes alongside the regular system of skilled apprenticeships, which tended to provide for boys from slightly more affluent backgrounds. These parish apprenticeships, which could be created with the assent of two Justices of the Peace, supplied apprentices for occupations of lower status such as farm labouring, brick making and menial household service.

In the early years of the Industrial Revolution entrepreneurs began to resist the restrictions of the apprenticeship system, and a legal ruling established that the Statute of Apprentices did not apply to trades that were not in existence when it was passed in 1563, thus excluding many new 18th century industries. In 1814 compulsory apprenticeship by indenture was abolished. The effect of this was the low output of skilled personnel in technological industries, which in turn relegated UK into the lower ranks of advanced societies. Since then Apprenticeship has always been very popular and also has been the most favoured by the various governments.

As employees, apprentices earn a wage and work alongside experienced staff to gain job-specific skills. Off the job, usually on a day-release basis, apprentices receive training to work towards nationally recognised qualifications. Anyone living in England, over 16 and not in full-time education can apply.

Apprenticeships can take between one and four years to complete depending on the level of Apprenticeship, the apprentices' ability and the industry sector.

Train to Gain is the government's flagship providing skill based training to employees. Train to Gain is part of the Governments Solutions for Business, a wide portfolio of highly targeted, publicly funded business support products and services, designed to help eligible English businesses grow and succeed.

As the national skills service Train to Gain:

aims to meet the needs of employers of all sizes and from all sectors to improve the skills of their employees as a route to improving their business performance

aims to encourage all businesses and individuals to value and realise the benefits that learning and skills can bring

is a valuable resource for employers, unlocking employees' potential and increasing company productivity

A broad range of training is covered - from basic level skills to Level 2, Level 3 and other higher-level skills such as Leadership and Management. As of today Train to Gain is to end by July 2011 and new funding programme will replace it but it will only fund level 2 qualifications and most providers are expected to switch to apprenticeships programmes.

Coalition Government Policy:

In recognition of the growing importance of work based learning, the new Coalition Government in United Kingdom has lent its support to this industrial trend: The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, commissioned Professor Alison Wolf of King's College London to carry out an independent review of vocational education. She was asked to consider how vocational education for 14- to 19-year-olds can be improved in order to promote successful progression into the labour market and into higher level education and training routes. She was also asked to provide practical recommendations to help inform future policy direction, taking into account current financial constraints. The review has been informed by over 400 pieces of evidence from the public, a number of visits to colleges, academies and training providers, and interviews and discussion sessions with key partners in the sector, and key recommendations in the report include the following:

incentivising young people to take the most valuable vocational qualifications pre-16, while removing incentives to take large numbers of vocational qualifications to the detriment of core academic study

introducing principles to guide study programmes for young people on vocational routes post-16 to ensure they are gaining skills which will lead to progression into a variety of jobs or further learning, in particular, to ensure that those who have not secured a good pass in English and mathematics in GCSE continue to study those subjects

evaluating the delivery structure and content of apprenticeships to ensure they deliver the right skills for the workplace

making sure the regulatory framework moves quickly away from accrediting individual qualifications to regulating awarding organisations

removing the requirement that all qualifications offered to 14- to 19-year-olds fit within the Qualifications and Credit Framework, which has had a detrimental effect on their appropriateness and has left gaps in the market

enabling FE lecturers and professionals to teach in schools, ensuring young people are being taught by those best suited

Before the Learner Management Systems or software the reporting and tracking all of learners, courses and tutors was done through the use of a single master spreadsheet.

To enable reports to be compiled, copies of this master spreadsheet would be taken and edited, which proved to be cumbersome, not very effective and very time consuming. Also these main spreadsheets were only available at the main office which meant that any tutor or learners who would require some information needs to come to the office or when copies of this spreadsheet were taken off site, which occasionally happened, however this then lead to issues with versions of the master as updates may have been done to this spread sheet off site whist other members of staff may have made changes to the on site copy. Leading to issues with accuracy of the overall master spreadsheet, this was one of the difficulty faced by most providers before the Learner Management Systems like PICS and Maytas came in the picture. PICS is the most popular Learner Management system used by the Work Based Learning Providers in England. The main features of PICS are -

Research Methodology :

The system of collecting data for research projects is known as research methodology

The research will be undertaken in two stages:

a literature review on the use of e-learning in work-based learning provision, covering government strategic and research publications, research by the LSC, Becta, JSIC and other agencies, academic journals, industry-related websites and publications, specific project reports and evaluations.

desk research including interviews and questionnaires with managers and practitioners - which involves admin staff, tutors, assessors and Internal Verifier.

Exploratory studies will be conducted to gain familiarity with the topical areas and generate ideas through the review of available literature from sources such as Becta research, LSC (now Skill Funding Agency), JISC and others.

Pilot interview - restructure the questions as necessary

Pilot use of questionnaire - restructure the questions as necessary

Contact details of various s

Letters/Emails indicating intention, aims and objectives of the study would be sent out to different organisations delivering Work Based Learning provision in Greater London . Online questionnaire or paper based questionnaires will be sent out to the managers of these organisations.

Online Questionnaires or paper based questionnaires will be sent out to the delivery staff of the organisations delivering Train to Gain provision.

Interviews will be conducted with key staff of the organisations delivery work based learning provision

Analysis of secondary data such as becta research and published annual reports and academic journals.

Consideration of the data and patterns found in all of the organisations will be used in conjunction with academic theory to try to explain the findings and answer the research objectives posed in section Error: Reference source not found.

Validity and Reliability

In the design of the research approach I have considered the following:

Internal validity - Increased through use of multiple sources of evidence, structured interviews and questionnaires (both closed and open questions). The design of questions and survey will be based on understanding of the theory from the literature and pilot testing of the interview and questionnaire will be used to make sure questions are understood as intended.

External validity - Multiple cases considered to examine whether findings can be generalised over a number of organisations. There is no requirement to make a statistical analysis of the results for generalisation here as the approach chosen examines practices and their effectiveness. The aim is to explain the findings and explore generalisability through a comparison of findings with theory.

Reliability - Structured interviews with questions derived from literature in order to examine cases in same way. Surveys to back up the interviews and obtain views from a wider group. Questionnaires all administered at the same time and in controlled manner, explanation to ensure participants all understand research in same way.

Research Ethics

Please see Appendix A to this proposal, the Business School Ethics Review Form. This covers the main points to be addressed here, but in summary:

The interviewees and survey participants will be given a clear written description of the purpose, scope and intended outcomes of the research. The type of information required for the research will be clearly stated as will the policy for anonymity and confidentiality.

The research will be carried out in a way that will ensure confidentiality of the participant organisations and the individual participants in the surveys. The organisations which participate in the research will not be named in the dissertation, nor will the interviewees and the questionnaires will be anonymous.

The interview questions and questionnaire will be designed to examine only the practices of KM, no confidential product or customer information will be required. Even so, I have highlighted this area for possible ethical conflict in section 5 of the Ethics Review Form. This is because confidential information may be discussed in the interviews and also commented upon in the questionnaires, this information will not be included in a way which will breach confidentiality in the dissertation.

The semi-structured interviews will start with an organisational questionnaire to gain company information such as number of employees, number of research staff, annual turnover, market sector, products (type, number of different products, product volume and value). The remainder will cover a series of open ended questions to discuss the KM practices in order to gain an understanding of the approach taken, the structure and effectiveness, how and why certain strategies work whilst others are less effective. Each participant will be asked to answer identical questions, but the order of the questions will not necessarily be fixed as this may detract from the flow of the interview.

The survey is intended to supplement data from interviews and sample more widely the practices and individual perceptions in the organisation. The aim is to gain an understanding of how the knowledge strategies work and also the opinions and understanding of the employees. The questionnaire will have structured questions with set responses in order to map the KM characteristics of the organisation [1] . There will also be open questions for participants to make comments on the various aspects of KM in their organisation

My approach to the design of the interview and survey is as follows:

Preliminary framework built on the review of theory from academic literature prior to design of questionnaires and structured interviews

Pilot interview - restructure the questions as necessary

Pilot use of questionnaire - restructure the questions as necessary

Interviews - notes taken during recording key words and phrases and creating full record immediately after interview

Survey - questionnaires explained and handed out/ collected during session

CHAPTER 4: FINDINGS

In this section the responses obtained from the questionnaire administered to the users are summarized and are presented to aid discussion in section 5.

4.1 Management Staff Survey

A total of 21 questionnaires were obtained for the management staff survey but out of which 3 of them were not completely filled and had lot of mandatory questions unfilled hence they were not included in the analysis. The demographic of the management staff of Work Based Learning provision who took part are presented below -

http://www.education.gov.uk/16to19/qualificationsandlearning/a0074953/review-of-vocational-education-the-wolf-report

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