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Virtual Classrooms and the Future of Apprenticeships

A hot topic this year for #NationalApprenticeshipWeek is Remote Learning and Virtual Classrooms. Students have been quizzing training providers on how they can still complete their Apprenticeships even though the classrooms and some employer premises are closed and unable to open until the lockdown ends.

With March looking like the month for businesses to be opening up again, it won’t be too long until training providers can open their doors again and welcome students back to face to face training…

But, have times changed?

A question that training providers, employers and students are all asking… Could remote learning be implemented and remain in place after the lockdown has ended? Would it be effective and allow students more flexibility when completing their off-the-job training? Most Apprenticeship training providers have already had to adapt to survive and now deliver lessons online, allowing the student to meet with their Tutor in a Virtual Classroom and learn whilst they’re at their workplace or even at home. This reformed way of learning could open up doors to those that have accessibility or disability issues, reduce travel and expenses for those having to travel and even improve the experience learners are having when completing their Apprenticeship.

With #NAW2021 in the headlights, a lot of discussion has been around the Apprentice’s Story and how they’ve coped, and interestingly, many have reported good things relating to their online learning experience and have even gone as far as saying that they valued their online lessons with their tutor more so than in a physical classroom, saying that they were able to learn more due to not having the distractions of the other students.

Learning online does have its limitations though, and some students’ will still need physical visits from their tutors and assessors. A Personal Trainer for example, has to demonstrate using a piece of gym equipment, this would be difficult to provide over video in a busy gym environment and would be much more effective to do in person, so with this in mind – some physical visits to the workplace are still vital and important to for the success and development of the student. On the other hand, there are Apprenticeship programmes that would be able to go ahead without the need of physical visits. Tech, Digital, IT and even some other Apprenticeships are available to do online and even the exams are possible to take virtually with the help of Remote Proctoring and Invigilation. The process of a student logging onto a laptop, joining a virtual classroom and taking part is in itself a great soft skill to develop and will certainly put the student in good stead for the start of their career.

For Training Providers, online training makes sense and has already had a big push over the past few months. Providing Virtual Learning opens up so many doors for these providers, the tutors, the partnering businesses and even the students. Remote working means training providers are able to source tutors that once may have been limited by their location, tutors can now provide their lessons, knowledge and experience over a virtual lesson from their home offices.

An area that is important and is being monitored by various providers is the effect virtual learning is having on students and how it compares to face-to-face learning. Do virtual classrooms provide the same value? One thing we can guarantee is that technology is at a point now where tutors are able to deliver a lesson, presentation and are able to communicate effectively with each student which is no different from how they usually would learn and provides no disadvantage to the student.

With the adaptation to learning online, some Training Providers have used virtual classrooms to their advantage and celebrate how they’ve changed learning for the better. Students now have a new way to approach their learning and their relationship with their tutor. Many providers have adapted to the ‘On Demand’ model, where students are able to send a message or jump on a video call over Teams with their tutor and are able to provide them an answer there and then, without much of a delay.

Virtual Classrooms and Remote Working are definitely hot topics at the moment. If you’re a business, apprentice or someone looking into an Apprenticeship, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Click here to send us an email.