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Author Archives: Gemma Goodbourn

The Benefits of Adopting Digital Learning

If your business hasn’t entered the rapidly-growing world of digital learning yet, there are plenty of reasons why it should. At CDSM, we are passionate about delivering high quality e-learning and digital solutions that improve performance and enable businesses to stay ahead of the competition. In this blog post, we’ll be looking at how you can harness the power of digital learning to build on your success.

Learning is key not only to economic success, but to achieving our full potential as human beings. There’s no denying it: learning matters. Moreover, digital learning is the way to go. The US Department of Education reviewed previous research into the effectiveness of online learning, with two key findings:

  • Learners in online study conditions performed slightly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction
  • Learners in blended learning conditions performed much better than those receiving face-to-face instruction

We summarised the other important points to come out of the study in an infographic: e-Learning Paints a Pretty Picture. Most notably, it found that giving learners control over their learning has a positive impact. Enabling learners to self-monitor their understanding, giving them additional learning time, and putting them in control of their own interactions with media, all led to greater success.

businesswoman using computer - digital learning

If you’re still tentative about taking the leap, you should also consider the extent to which digital learning plays a key part in business productivity, and how this trend is set to continue in the future. We’ve previously highlighted the cost savings, and according to a Brandon Hall study (1995), digital learning in contrast to traditional classroom instruction:

  • Is quicker to deliver than traditional, classroom-based instruction
  • Increases learner retention
  • Boosts productivity
  • Improves the ability to introduce new products and services
  • Is quicker to update
  • Decreases skills gaps

According to a recent report – Modernising Learning: Delivering Results – over 90% of L&D leaders would like learning technology to enable a quicker response to changing business conditions and organisational change. In spite of all this, a massive 60% of organisations cannot implement a technology-enabled learning strategy due to lack of skills.

How Can CDSM Help?

With award-winning e-learning and digital learning solutions at the heart of what we do, CDSM can provide you with the tools you need for a more productive business, a more knowledgeable and skilled workforce, and a more positive working environment. The proof is in the performance.

There’s never been a better time to go digital.

You can stay up to date with CDSM by following us on Twitter, or by subscribing to our monthly e-zine.

Sources:

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, U.S. Department of Education Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development Policy and Program Studies Service, Revised 2010

Modernising Learning: Delivering Results, Towards Maturity, November 2014

Return-on-Investment and Multimedia Training: a Research Study. Sunnyvale, CA:, Multimedia Training Newsletter, Brandon Hall, 1995a

Multimedia Training’s Return on Investment,Workforce Training News, Brandon Hall, 1995b, July/August

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Major Update to Hwb

[Read in Welsh]

Since our last major Hwb release in June, we’ve been working tirelessly to bring you our best tool suite yet. Collaborating with primary and secondary teachers in Wales, as well as with our colleagues at Welsh Government, we’ve built Hwb into what we believe is the best freely available national digital education offering to be found anywhere – and we’re nowhere near finished yet.

Latest Release

Friday 13th November sees the first of two major releases for Hwb, with five new Playlist features released, along with a plethora of wider enhancements.

CDSM is privileged to serve the educational community in Wales: we know it, and we’re proud of it. It gives us huge pleasure to be making a difference in our own community, and we love the opportunity to travel to your communities and hear your thoughts, listen to your opinions and incorporate these into Hwb.

Playlists

The Playlists feature has been updated to include two new assessment types, to further diversify the way formative or summative assessment can be used in your classroom. The first allows Playlist authors to easily create drag and drop sorting activities, allowing them to create everything from capital city quizzes to reasoning exercises on forces in new and engaging ways.

Playlist Blocks

Coupled with this is the new Image Multiple Choice Question (Image MCQ) format. As with so many aspects of Hwb, the beauty here is in the simplicity: this development gives authors the chance to provide images as the answers to multiple choice questions. This opens up so many new possibilities for our users, such as making possible the creation of mathematical formulae questions without the need to write complicated code or use 3rd party libraries.

Hwb Playlist Blocks

Simplicity, however, isn’t the only beauty on offer– the Playlist feature’s new Slideshow content block provides a template in which the user can present learning material visually in a stimulating way, using bite sized pieces of written text to accompany a complimentary image. Teachers now have real options in accommodating the different learning styles, preferences and abilities in their classrooms.

Slideshow

We’ve also built in the ability for Playlists to hold file attachments, giving authors the option to attach supplementary and supporting content to any Playlist.

Hwb - attachments on step

Next Release

What will make the Playlist improvements even more powerful, however, is the release of our brand new Assessment tool. Created with Playlists at its core, the Assessment tool (released on December 8th) will allow authors to assign Playlists created by any author in Wales to a group of their choosing – for example a class or a set.

Even more excitingly, the latest Learner Record Store technology then allows the author to see the learner’s interactions, progress and attainment in real time. Results can be viewed across the entire cohort or at an individual level, giving the author an unprecedented and timely insight into both group and individual understanding of the topic.

Hwb Markbook

We’re very proud of these features, and can’t wait to see the diverse range of up-to-date assessments that the teachers of Wales will make with them.

In addition to all of this, we’re also releasing a large number of enhancements to Hwb itself; ranging from personal communication enhancements like the private news feed, to practical improvements like the ability to view the resource repository as a list.

Hwb News Feed

We’ve built upon and enhanced so many features that it’d be impossible to try and list them all here – so go and take a look at them for yourself on Hwb.

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Diweddariad Mawr i Hwb

Ers i ni ryddhau ein diweddariad mawr diwethaf i Hwb fis Mehefin diwethaf, rydyn ni wedi bod yn gweithio’n ddiflino i ddod â’n cyfres gorau o adnoddau i chi. Gan gydweithio ag athrawon cynradd ac uwchradd yng Nghymru a chydweithwyr yn Llywodraeth Cymru, rydyn ni wedi adeiladu Hwb i’r hyn rydyn ni’n credu ydy’r cynnig addysg digidol cenedlaethol gorau sydd ar gael yn unrhyw le – a dydyn ni ddim yn agos at orffen eto.

Y Diweddariad Newydd

Ddydd Gwener 13eg Tachwedd byddwn yn rhyddhau’r cyntaf o ddau ddiweddariad mawr newydd i Hwb, gan ryddhau pum nodwedd Rhestr chwarae newydd, ynghyd â llu o welliannau ehangach.

Mae CDSM yn falch o fod yn gwasanaethu’r gymuned addysg yng Nghymru: rydyn ni’n ei hadnabod ac rydyn ni’n falch ohoni. Mae’n rhoi pleser enfawr i ni gael gwneud gwahaniaeth yn ein cymuned ein hunain, ac rydyn ni’n falch o gael y cyfle i deithio i’ch cymunedau chi a chlywed eich syniadau chi, gwrando ar eich safbwyntiau chi a chynnwys y rhain yn Hwb.

Rhestri Chwarae

Mae’r nodwedd Rhestri chwarae wedi cael ei diweddaru i gynnwys dau fath newydd o asesiad, er mwyn amrywio’r ffordd mae modd defnyddio asesiadau ffurfiannol neu grynodol yn eich ystafell ddosbarth. Mae’r cyntaf yn caniatáu i awduron Rhestr chwarae greu gweithgareddau trefnu llusgo a gollwng yn hawdd, gan eu galluogi i greu popeth o gwisiau prifddinasoedd y byd i ymarferion rhesymu ar rymoedd mewn ffyrdd newydd a difyr.

Playlist Blocks

Law yn llaw â hyn mae’r fformat Cwestiwn Aml Ddewis newydd (Delwedd MCQ). Yn yr un modd â sawl agwedd ar Hwb, ei symlrwydd sy’n ei wneud yn wych: mae’r datblygiad hwn yn rhoi cyfle i awduron ddarparu delweddau yn atebion i gwestiynau aml ddewis. Mae hyn yn esgor ar gynifer o gyfleoedd newydd i’n defnyddwyr, fel creu cwestiynau fformiwlâu mathemategol heb orfod ysgrifennu cod cymhleth neu ddefnyddio llyfrgelloedd 3ydd parti.

Playlist Blocks

Serch hynny, nid symlrwydd ydy ei unig rinwedd – mae bloc cynnwys sioe sleidiau newydd y nodwedd Rhestr chwarae yn rhoi templed er mwyn i’r defnyddiwr allu cyflwyno’r deunydd dysgu mewn ffordd ddifyr yn weledol, gan ddefnyddio darnau bach o destun i ategu delwedd. Mae modd i athrawon nawr ddarparu ar gyfer yr arddulliau dysgu, y dewisiadau a’r galluoedd gwahanol yn eu dosbarth.

Hwb Playlist Slideshow

Rydyn ni hefyd wedi galluogi’r Rhestri chwarae i ddal atodiadau ffeil, gan roi’r dewis i awduron atodi cynnwys ategol a chefnogol at unrhyw Restr chwarae.

Attachments on Step

Y Diweddariad Nesaf

Serch hynny, yr hyn a fydd yn gwneud y gwelliannau Rhestr chwarae hyd yn oed yn fwy pwerus ydy rhyddhau ein teclyn Asesu newydd sbon. Wedi’i greu gyda Rhestri chwarae wrth ei galon, bydd y teclyn Asesu (sy’n cael ei ryddhau ar 8ydd Rhagfyr) yn galluogi awduron i neilltuo Rhestri chwarae sy’n cael eu creu gan unrhyw awdur yng Nghymru i grŵp o’u dewis – er enghraifft i ddosbarth neu i set.

Hyd yn oed yn fwy cyffrous, mae’r dechnoleg Storfa Cofnodion Dysgwyr ddiweddaraf wedyn yn galluogi’r awdur i weld rhyngweithio’r dysgwr, ei gynnydd a’i gyflawniad mewn amser real. Mae modd gweld y canlyniadau ar draws y garafán gyfan neu ar lefel unigolyn, gan roi cipolwg amserol fel na welwyd o’r blaen i ddealltwriaeth y grŵp ac unigolion o’r pwnc.

Hwb Markbook

Rydyn ni’n arbennig o falch o’r nodweddion hyn ac rydyn ni’n edrych ymlaen at weld yr amrywiaeth o asesiadau diweddar y bydd athrawon yng Nghymru yn eu gwneud gyda nhw.

Ar ben hyn i gyd rydyn ni hefyd yn rhyddhau nifer fawr o welliannau i Hwb ei hun; sy’n amrywio o wella cyfathrebu personol fel y crynodeb newyddion preifat, i welliannau ymarferol fel gallu gweld y storfa adnoddau ar ffurf rhestr.

Hwb News Feed

Rydyn ni wedi gwella ac adeiladu ar gynifer o nodweddion y byddai’n amhosibl ceisio eu rhestru nhw i gyd yn fan hyn – felly ewch i daro golwg arnyn nhw eich hun yn Hwb.

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International E-Learning Part 3: Proven Production Techniques

When rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries, you will undoubtedly need to overcome a variety of different challenges. At CDSM, we have experienced these challenges first-hand, and have decided to relay our experiences in a three-part blog series on ‘International E-Learning’. In Part 1, we looked at 5 challenges that can impact on the success of an e-learning rollout, and in Part 2 we looked at how to overcome these challenges. In this third part, we’ll look at the proven production techniques CDSM used to deliver Honda’s e-learning programme across Europe, with award-winning results.

Content is King

You’ll want the production of your e-learning to be as quick and efficient as possible, avoiding any unnecessary delays. This means that you need to plan each step of the production process carefully, considering the order of work and any interdependencies.

Proven production techniques - Happy business people working as a team

So where do we start? Well, in our case, content really is king. It determines how a programme of study is broken up, how the pages will be laid out and what assets need to be collected or created. Almost every part of the production process is informed by the content. Using theories about how we learn, our instructional designers started each module of Honda’s award-winning e-learning by creating a storyboard that provided all of the detail.

Upon customer sign-off of a storyboard, a number of teams – including graphic designers, animators, translators and technical authors – spring into action, bringing the storyboard to life (but always staying faithful to the instructional designer’s intent). In fact, the instructional designer is never too far away, as they need to ensure their vision is realised.

Quality is Everyone’s Responsibility

At CDSM, we firmly support W. Edwards Deming’s statement that “quality is everyone’s responsibility.” Although we have a dedicated quality assurance team who ensure project and product releases are thoroughly tested, every member of staff at CDSM is committed to producing work to the highest standard. Testing happens at every stage in our production process to safeguard quality and meet internal and external benchmarks. Our instructional designers not only check their own content, but also peer review each other’s, and our developers write unit tests for their work before they even start developing a feature. The final layer of internal quality assurance is added by our project managers, who perform spot checks before a project is released.

Ticking the boxes - e-learning programme
Our customers also have a part to play. We build user acceptance testing (UAT) into our schedules, ensuring that our customers have the opportunity to give feedback prior to release. We recognised that Honda were the subject specialists, so their feedback on the subject matter was invaluable, and helped us to fine-tune the course content.

Managing Rollout

Having produced innovative, high quality e-learning, we then had to consider the rollout schedule with Honda. With branches spanning Europe, there were a range of factors to take into account. We had to ensure that the e-learning was delivered to each country at the right time, in line with Honda’s product releases. Translation of the content was scheduled to meet each country’s delivery date. This was no mean feat and meant a rolling schedule of releases as opposed to the usual end of project delivery, but careful planning and ongoing communication with Honda ensured success.

If you want to find out more, download our expert guide: ‘How to Create Award-Winning E-Learning.’

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A Digital Competence Framework for Wales

At the National Digital Learning Event earlier this year, Education Minister Huw Lewis announced a Digital Competence Framework (DCF) for teachers in Wales.

“After considering Professor Donaldson’s report, alongside the findings of the independent review of ICT and early findings of our ‘Great Debate’, I have decided that an effective and consistent approach to teaching digital learning competence is too vital for both our young people and our economy to delay.”

– Education Minister Huw Lewis, June 2015

children learning about nature - digital competence

As a Welsh digital learning business, CDSM welcome the Digital Competence Framework, and agree that it should be implemented as soon as possible. We believe that Welsh Government’s approach to contemporary learning technology – in support of learning and development – is first class, and are excited by the appetite of both Donaldson and DfES for all things learning technology. When it comes to our own organisation, it is an absolute fact that our success in Wales is all down to our teachers, children and young people being digitally competent.

The Importance of Being Digitally Competent

At CDSM, we develop tools and technologies for teachers and students because we, like Welsh Government, believe contemporary learning technologies can only add to the learning and development process. After all, without the ability, skills, imagination and ambition to make full use of digital tools and technologies, how would our schools, students and education system keep up with the demands of this ever-changing digital world?

Row of schoolchildren studying in front of a computer - digital competence

But there’s more to this than just what happens in the classroom. Beyond the school setting, we also have a responsibility to ensure that our school and university leavers are equipped to perform in the workplace. According to the European Union, there will be an estimated 900,000 unfilled computing jobs across the EU in 2015, simply due to a lack of skills.

“According to The European Commission, more than 90% of professional occupations require some computing competence, but the number of graduates in computer science is not keeping pace with this demand for skills.”

– John Worden, Glyndwr University Lecturer

The Digital Competence Framework: An Opportunity for Wales

At CDSM, we work extensively with teachers in Wales, investing significant time and energy in developing meaningful and productive relationships. Because of this, we understand that our teachers are the on ‘front line’, developing and nurturing our children and young people. They are the ones who acknowledge and respond to the demands of a relentlessly changing world.

Friends in the Classroom - digital competence

We are committed to providing teachers with tools and technologies that support and enhance their practice every single day. Gone now are the days of sending the little ones to the ICT suite to ‘play’ on the computers, or scribble out wobbly drawings on the faithful old classroom Acorn. Computers (and, increasingly, handheld devices) now play a key role in learning and development, and digital technologies and their relevant skills are now core requirements.

After Donaldson, the transformed curriculum should inspire those who engage with it to make positive leaps in their learning, and fill the rest of us with a passionate sense of ambition for our education system. At CDSM, we believe that the Digital Competence Framework allows Wales to set out its intention and aspiration for the development of what is arguably our most important professional community.

You can stay up to date with what’s happening by following CDSM on Twitter, or by subscribing to our monthly e-zine.

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International E-Learning Part 2: How to Overcome the Challenges of Rolling Out E-Learning Across Different Countries

When rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries, you will undoubtedly need to overcome a variety of different challenges. At CDSM, we have experienced these challenges first-hand, and have decided to relay our experiences in a three-part blog series on ‘International E-Learning’. In Part 1, we looked at 5 challenges that can impact on the success of an e-learning rollout. In this second part, we’ll look at how to overcome these challenges to achieve an easy and successful rollout across multiple countries.

International E-Learning Part 2

As explained in Part 1, performing an international rollout of an e-learning programme is a massive feat, with large scale co-ordination and organisation required. With 10,000 learners, spread over four-million square miles, our rollout of e-learning across all European Honda dealerships is a fantastic example of how to strike a balance between concept and budget. Our experience with this type of rollout has enabled us to develop innovative solutions to the challenges detailed in Part 1, and we want to share them with you.

Piloting to Success

We found that piloting is a really useful exercise, as it enabled us to engage with end users in different cultures and understand their preferences. We received first-hand feedback from the people who were actually using our content. Not only was this of great benefit to us, but it also made the users feel involved in the development of the programme, helping to increase the uptake and buy-in as the e-learning was rolled out.

However, with budget constraints in mind, it’s not possible to pilot everywhere. With Honda, we found that using their in-country representatives (i.e. Honda Area Managers) to devolve some of the piloting across their region made the localisation process easier without having an exorbitant cost.

Many Different Languages

We previously explored the importance of consistency in production in our blog post: ‘Why Developing Standards is Critical’. This focus on standards was a key foundation block for our work with Honda, and allowed us to ensure a consistency in translation across countries.

We worked with reps from different Honda regions to aid the creation of the company’s Pan-European Specification of Standards. This gave us and Honda’s L&D professionals a universal database, helping to decrease lengthy back-and-forth discussions over terminology, processes, etc.

Our partnership with SDL enabled a smooth translation process, avoiding the possibility of the procedure becoming a bottleneck in the project (in Part 3, we’ll look at how we achieved this in more detail).

Future-Proofing Technology

The consideration of what technology to use is a major evaluation point in the production of e-learning. With Honda, we overcame the problems of different user setups (e.g. different browsers, internet speeds, etc.) by creating a custom user interface, adopting cloud-based media file delivery, and enabling cross-browser support. To learn more, take a look at our white paper for the Honda project: ‘How to Produce Gold Award-Winning E-Learning’.

We also invested a lot of time in future-proofing. Several years ago, in response to the increasing impact of mobile devices in learning, we made the decision to move to using HTML5 and JavaScript as our core technology for presenting interactive content. Although we were under no pressure to render Adobe Flash Player obsolete within Honda’s e-learning programme, our commitment to HTML5 and JavaScript meant we avoided a logistical headache when the recent Flash vulnerabilities came to light.

Lighter Push Load

A key part of making the administration load lighter for Honda was the creation of engaging, contemporary e-learning. This meant that minimal pushing was required on the part of the customer.

When performing an international e-learning rollout, the last thing you want is your admin team spending all their time nagging people to complete it. Creating e-learning that engages the end user means that administration time can be better spent synchronising product releases and further training with what’s happening in the business.

It’s also important to make tracking and reporting as easy as possible, and with an LRS (Learner Record Store) in place you’ll get full coverage of everything including what works and what doesn’t without having any impediment on your LMS.

These are just a few of the ways we managed to overcome the challenges of rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries. In Part 3, we’ll share the clever production technique we used to ensure the successful rollout of Honda’s BER course.

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International E-Learning Part 1: 5 Challenges When Rolling Out E-Learning Across Different Countries

When rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries, you will undoubtedly need to overcome a variety of different challenges. At CDSM, we have experienced these challenges first-hand, and have decided to relay our experiences in a three-part blog series on ‘International E-Learning’. In this first part, we’re going to look at the 5 challenges we think you need to consider, and how they can impact on the success of the rollout.

International E-Learning

  1.       Production Preferences

How do you actually produce content that’s going to work across different countries? Each country is different, and the people you deal with from each country will have a variety of specific likes and dislikes – so how far do you let them pick and choose what they want?

Before you begin working on an international e-learning rollout, you need to decide how accommodating you are prepared (and able) to be. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re creating bespoke content for each individual country, as this will not be practical or cost effective.

However, that’s not to say you don’t want to consider a country’s preferences and cultural differences, but it’s about finding a balance that won’t put pressure on production.   

  1.       Cultural Differences

You need to distinguish between objections that arise from personal preferences, and objections that are linked to cultural differences. Vague objections such as “it’s not like that in our market” will need to be explored to gain a better understanding of what is appropriate.

Again, decisions will need to be made about how accommodating you can be. For example, some countries will be adamant that their end users prefer video in their own language, rather than subtitles, but this could mean that production costs spiral out of control.

Demonstrating the benefits of a one-size-fits-all approach will help to ease tension – with an emphasis placed on the way that a centralised process ensures consistent, high-quality content. But remember, failing to recognise the importance of differences in culture between countries may mean that your end users feel disengaged, so make sure that every country-specific objection is carefully considered.

  1.       Translation

Translation can be a major challenge. For example, German text is typically 35% longer than English text, which can pose a problem if your content needs to fit in a set amount of space. So creating a consistent production process for translating e-learning into different languages is crucial.

Ultimately, all translations will be proofed by the country of origin, and then these checks themselves will need to be evaluated – are they asking for terminology changes or preferential changes? The more leeway that’s given, the more processes there are to undertake.

We previously explored the importance of consistency in production in our blog post: ‘Why Developing Standards is Critical’.

  1.       Technologies

Rolling out e-learning to multiple countries means catering for a diverse user base, not just in terms of language and culture, but technology too. How do you ensure that you are catering for users accessing the e-learning in different geographical locations with different setups? (e.g. different browsers, internet speeds, etc.)

For example, if the e-learning has sizeable media content, this will cause problems for users with low bandwidths. There may be an opportunity to create a ‘no-frills’ version of the e-learning for this type of user, with text summaries of video content and animations. Sizeable media content could then be placed in a separate repository within the UI for them to view if they wish.

However, creating branched versions for different user types can drive up costs, and so it may be more effective to perform an evaluation of potential content prior to production, making decisions about what content is absolutely necessary for the end user.

  1.       Administration

Rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries will require a substantial amount of administration. This could range from setting up the e-learning on the LMS, to tracking and reporting the progress of end users.

Administration may also extend to promoting the completion of the programme, and synchronising the learning with other training.

This amount of administration will undoubtedly be time-consuming should you decide to take it on yourself. And if your e-learning is a compliance box-tick, then you may not have time to remedy any problems experienced by users, or gain a deeper understanding of the actual effectiveness of the e-learning.

These are the five main challenges you will come up against when rolling out a new e-learning programme across multiple countries. They may make an international rollout seem daunting, but don’t feel apprehensive…in Part 2, we’ll explore how to overcome these challenges to achieve an easy and successful roll out across multiple countries.

Got to International E-Learning Part 2 >

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The Donaldson Report – A CDSM Perspective (Part 2)

Earlier this year, Welsh Government published a comprehensive, independent review of the curriculum and assessment arrangements in Wales, written by Professor Graham Donaldson. Now, in a two-part series on the Donaldson Report (Successful Futures), CDSM explore the headline findings and provide a context from our perspective as an Education Technologies company based in Wales. In this second post, we’ll look at the implications of the report for teachers, the classroom and technology in the classroom.

happy students in computer class - donaldson report

As already discussed in our first post, at CDSM we feel that we have a huge role to play in the implementation of Donaldson’s recommendations. We broadly support all of the report’s proposals, and strongly believe that it provides the opportunity to make a real difference to future generations in Wales. However, we understand that others may be a bit more tentative. After all, the report represents significant change that can only be achieved with time and, ultimately, teacher re-skilling. Teachers are at the forefront of this change, and so these fears represent very natural reactions.

At CDSM, we believe it’s our duty to support teachers, schools and regional education consortia through this transition. Our innovations in education technology, our understanding of pedagogy, and our commitment to their profession enables us to make teachers’ lives easier and their everyday tasks less time-consuming. We want to be there to aid them in their re-training, always listening for their pressure points and hearing their requirements. We’ve seen, many times, how useful the private sector can be in developing the holistic, niche or bespoke innovation that fulfils a need and ultimately helps teachers, schools and authorities to improve the services they provide. As the supplier of Hwb – which has become the gateway for a centrally-provisioned national toolkit – as well as region-specific services, CDSM is in a privileged position to work at the heart of this historical change.

One of the more profound changes is summed up in Recommendations 6 & 7 of the report:

“6. Children and young people should have their learning developed across the curriculum through three Cross-curriculum Responsibilities that should be the responsibility of all teachers: literacy; numeracy; and digital competence.

7. A digital competence framework and an accompanying ‘Routes to Learning Digital Competence’ should be developed and be included as a Cross-curriculum Responsibility.”

– Successful Futures, page 42

The focus and drive to implement the LNF in recent years has been an all-consuming task for teachers, local authorities and regional education consortia alike. Embedding a digital competence framework across the curriculum promises to be even more challenging. Teachers will need to be able to support the use of digital technologies throughout their lessons, whether they are teaching Drama, History or ICT. We know from experience that not all teachers feel comfortable or equipped to do this, and so again we find ourselves in a position where our services and expertise can make a difference. We’re already working with Welsh technology and teaching professionals to create a training programme that will help to alleviate much of the ongoing concern around this recommendation. Through our technologies, we’ll be facilitating communities of professionals who can support and learn from each other in order to become the teachers this report requires.

schoolboy with laptop and teacher - donaldson report

Although the report goes to lengths to make clear that it does not favour one teaching method over another, it does make some key recommendations about the very nature of the classroom itself. Children and young people want lessons to be more relevant and engaging, with more practical lessons, more fun, more interactivity, and more out-of-classroom activities. We know from a number of studies, including one by the US department of state (summarised in this CDSM infographic), that a blended learning approach has real benefits to learning and retention. In this sense, blended learning is mix of classroom based and non-classroom-based learning (e.g. e-learning).

We aren’t suggesting that Professor Donaldson was specifically advocating e-learning when referencing non-classroom-based learning, but it’s clear that well-constructed learning in this format has a significant role to play, both in adding variety to lessons and homework, and providing different stimuli and challenges for the learner. It’s also an approach that aligns with the Digital Competence Framework, and supports other key recommendations of the report. For example:

“Children and young people should develop their own e-portfolio, possibly including ‘e-badges’, to record key achievements and experiences.”

Successful Futures, page 83

“Significantly better and more creative use should be made of technology in the teaching and learning of Welsh and also modern foreign languages.”

Successful Futures, page 60

The classroom will undoubtedly maintain a physical form for some time yet but, for learners of all ages, it is now well-established in a virtual form too. Learning no longer takes place solely in school or at home, but through all interactions with the digital world. Through Hwb, a learner now has the ability to record that interaction, aggregating the learning seamlessly into an e-portfolio which can be used as both a revision aid and as evidence for assessment/evaluation.

CDSM have a role to play in formative and summative assessment too, with tools that create a variety of testing activities for use in multiple environments. The key differentiator in Hwb is that these tools form a part of the learning and development cycle, engaging the learner as an active participant, rather than simply providing a benchmark on their ability to learn and repeat.

“Testing, both multiple-choice and open-response, is an important element in the repertoire of assessment techniques. Regular classroom testing is a long-established feature of teaching and learning. The construction of tests that do more than focus on recall and simple application is, however, both complex and time-consuming.”

Successful Futures, page 79

“Innovative approaches to assessment, including interactive approaches, should be developed drawing on the increasing potential contribution of digital technology.”

Successful Futures, page 80

Donaldson Report - children in classroom

From a teacher’s perspective, technology already available in Hwb enables the collection of a young person’s learning. It tracks their progress automatically, and provides real-time analysis of achievement. It also offers instant feedback, and can be used to engage parents, carers and other stakeholders in the learning process – something the report cites as important:

“There is likely to be a greater emphasis on recording procedures that enable teachers to keep track of each child and young person’s learning…”

Successful Futures, page 77

“Increased use of digital media should be explored to help to improve the immediacy of feedback to parents and carers and engage them more directly in supporting learning.”

Successful Futures, page 83

Outside of the classroom, CDSM continues to have a responsibility to provide solutions for key stakeholders in our education system. We’re already working with the regional education consortia to provide technological systems and structure for School Improvement and External Verification processes. So, from our point of view, references in the report to assessment and verification are a welcomed inclusion.

“Where the results of assessment are to be used for purposes of comparison, issues of reliability in teacher assessment should be addressed through effective moderation; where the prime purpose of assessment is assessment for learning there is less of a need for reliability between schools.”  

Successful Futures, page 80

Assessment and verification are, without a doubt, important factors in ensuring that the next generation of young people have a consistent and comprehensive education, no matter what part of Wales they are from. In a conversation that has largely focused on curriculum and process modernisation, Professor Donaldson’s highlighting of these less talked about (but equally important) facets will ensure that they receive the attention and consideration they deserve.

If this series of blog posts has one message, it’s that all of us here at CDSM are excited by the changes recommended in the Donaldson Report. We can’t pretend that the transition to a truly forward-thinking education system will be easy, nor can we pretend that it will be quick. However, we can guarantee that we’ll do everything we can to make the transition an engaging, empowering process – one that supports and benefits all of our teachers and learners in Wales.

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