Led by members of Tinder Foundation’s Research & Innovation and Digital teams the session will focus on ‘EduMakers: transforming adult and community learning through technology’ a recent 6 month research and development project funded by Innovate UK. The project aimed to disrupt the Adult and Community Learning (ACL) sector by radically increasing the adoption of digital technologies within teaching and learning. It tested the feasibility and co-design of an open collaborative content-creation, sharing and learning platform, linked to a learner management system for learners, tutors and managers.
Recording learning progression of individuals undertaking informal learning has been, to date, a significant challenge to the ACL sector. The result being that the value of community and informal learning has gone unrecognised as an important gateway to further and accredited learning, employment and development of personal outcomes such as social inclusion and confidence building. This session seeks to explore an innovative approach to address this issue.
Tinder Foundation is a non-for-profit Social Enterprise that manages a network of 5,000 hyperlocal community partners who offer access to the internet, digital skills training and informal learning opportunities – focussing on engaging individuals in communities who may previously have felt they ‘don’t fit’ with more traditional local training offers. User participation is crucial to this process – designing new courses with UK online centre staff to get a feel for problems learners face, and then testing any new courses in centres to make sure the materials produced help people overcome those problems.
The Innovate UK project was divided into a series of work packages. Research activities identified the needs and general ‘pain points’ of leaders, managers and influencers within the ACL sector; the drivers of and barriers to accelerating the adoption of online learning; and the needs of learners and tutors leading to the development of user personas. This informed the technical design and testing phase, and preparation of a Commercial Business Plan which included market research, interviews with budget holders and potential purchasers.
A mixed method and participatory approach was taken to data collection, with five hyperlocal community organisations engaged as Research Partners including a mix of Local Authority and innovating community organisations from across the country. The methodology included learner focus groups, face to face interviews with tutors and managers and an online survey to the UK online centre network. Data was qualitatively analysed and the emerging concept iteratively refined through: thematic analysis; guidance from the project Advisory Board; hack days; Research Partner webinars and user testing with wireframes.
The emerging product is an open, online, collaborative learning management system, which combines the social aspect of online and classroom learning with the means to capture progression, and share innovation and knowledge. It is based on research findings such as ACL sector diversity, delivery constraints such as disparate tutors and locations, the under usage of and lack of knowledge about technology, and the need for a culture shift amongst managers.
Keywords: Collaboration; Personalised learning; Participatory approaches; Learning technologies; Open Educational Practice; Local Authority; Adult and Community Learning