TED-Ed

As part of TED’s worldwide domination (in a good way), they launched ed.ted.com. Featuring thousands of videos- in partnership with video giant YouTube- and the work of talented teachers and animators, lessons are delivered beautifully and in bitesized chunks.

Who?

TED-Ed is a free platform full of short (less than ten minutes, generally) ‘courses’ in a huge variety of topics. Contributed to by educators and animators worldwide, each lesson features optional extras- multiple choice questions, lead discussions, direction on further information. The site has a global audience, and will launch a schools project in the future.

So how do they do?

They do great! The videos are beautiful and interesting, and the short length of each makes them somewhat addictive. They foster a community of people engaging and sharing ideas with each other. Based on the sheer numbers of people who use the site, either to learn or to teach or both, the programme is a great success.

What makes it work?

The bitesize chunks and the visual appearance of the videos are wonderfully designed to be engaging enough to provoke further curiosity and fun enough to enjoy. By tapping into the world’s greatest educators, there are some really inspiring moments on the site, and you know you’re in safe hands under TED’s quality control. Using videos as a learning tool works really well.

What have we learnt?

Videos are a great tool for providing beautiful and interesting content, and it’s possible to have a huge network or content contributors whilst also maintaining high levels of quality.

Key points

  • Beautiful videos are engaging, and engaging content facilitates learning
  • Using a network of contributors works
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Memrise

Memrise is a jazzy online resource that gamifies learning. By making memorising fun, they offer free and effective courses of varying length, proficiency and topics.

Who?

They’ve been around for three years, and have expanded hugely in that time. They offer hundreds of courses in topics varying from Polish Conjucation to Naming Pokemon #1-649. By providing a fun way of learning, they’ve developed a community of content contributors and learners. Using some serious science stuff, their website emphasises learning through play.

So how do they do?

This company doesn’t provide face-to-face tuition or mentorships- they want to make learning and remembering difficult topics, such as an entire language, part of a game on a huge scale. To do this, they’ve developed a system of content contribution and a community of participants who encourage each other and share their successes. They have hundreds of courses and thousands of users, and a real sense of community for those who regularly participate.

What makes it work?

It’s fun! There’s no need for traditional teaching methods- face to face tuition- because the learning is motivated by a sense of curiosity and enjoyment. The content contribution network means the staff don’t have to design hundreds of courses, and the lovely community act as an encouragement mechanism.

What have we learnt?

Memrise are successful because they’ve gamified learning. While the courses aren’t specifically tailored to a particular audience, we have seen that by emphasising the fun, it makes learning less onerous and therefore more attractive.

Key points

  • Fun, engaging content and teaching methods
  • Sense of community
  • Network of contributors

Media Savvy Training Solutions

One sparky social enterprise that provides digital training is Media Savvy Training Solutions. They’re a young business, dedicated to providing creative industry training (such as Computer Games Development and 3d Animation) to young people.

Who?

Based in the North East, MSTS work with young people and marginalised groups (such as young offenders)  in educational settings, delivering workshops in the creative industry skills. Their aim is to make available the creativity and opportunities that creative digital skills can offer to people who never would have had the chance to develop these skills otherwise. Using high-tech equipment, they train people in creative niche skills in order to fuel their imagination and creativity, and to form the basis of a skillset for future employment. Their courses can be non-accedited, or lead to an accredited qualification.

So how do they do?

While they’re quite small and quite niche, the work they do benefits a lot of people. Groups like single mothers or young offenders, who are not normally given the opportunity to develop these skills, greatly enjoy the process.

What makes it work?

The accredited award plays a big part in the sense of success and achievement of project completion. Being able to develop a growing portfolio, and knocking down the barriers of how complex digital media can seem are also key. Having a teacher with you, rather a course being solely online also engages with groups who may be hard to reach online.

What have we learnt?

Physical presence of an expert is useful- related to our idea of mentors. Also having a shiny certificate at the end to show for it is a great addition- it would be great to know if qualifications are followed up with any further support.

Key points

  • Specialist skills that incite IMAGINATION
  • Development of a portfolio
  • Physical presence of the teacher/experts
  • Accredited award/certification

Arch Apprentices

Where better to start our mini-series on best practice in digital training than with Arch Apprentices, a UK leader in digital skills apprenticeships?

Who?

Arch Apprentices are the provider of hands-on digitally focussed apprenticeships, in conjunction with market leaders such as Google and Incisive Media. They’re driven by innovation, a passion to engage with and train 16-18 year olds, and an understanding that their apprentices are the future of digital’s potential. Apprenticeships last roughly a year, and apprentices receive a wage, intensive training, ongoing support and real work experience- as well as the chance to progress into a permanent position.

So how do they do?

Pretty well. Their apprentices are happy, and many go on to find employment within the companies they apprenticed for. It seems the integration of training with real work experiences is a real benefit, as it allows the young person to develop and the employers to get to know the person behind the CV.

Interestingly, the employers are very happy too. It’s too often forgotten that a young person’s presence in a work setting is beneficial, not only to the youngster themselves, but also to the employers. The employers involved with Arch are routinely impressed by the hard work the young people put in, and are delighted to be able to help launch the young people’s careers. Wonderful stuff!

What makes it work? 

The interaction between real work based skills and on-the-job training is key. It’s clear that simply handing over an instruction manual isn’t enough to instil confidence in young people, you have to help provide experience too. Arch Apprenticeships put a focus on giving the apprentices they work with real work to do, not the tea-ferrying of “work experience”, and gives them an expert’s insight into how to use digital tools most effectively. The nationally recognised qualification doesn’t hurt either.

What have we learnt?

Simply put, that giving training in a vacuum isn’t enough. Learning the basics of a digital skill is useless unless it can be practised, applied and learnt from. Not to mention the immersion in work settings as a basis of work-related skill training.

Key points

  • Dual work and training
  • Real work experiences
  • Accredited award
  • Potential for employment

PUT wants to develop the best possible digital skills training course for young people. We want it to be fun, practical, engaging, and most importantly, we want it to equip our participants with the skills and confidence to enter the workplace, or even create their own work opportunities.

So what’s already out there? There are hundreds of places to learn online. So how is it done, and who are the success stories? This mini-series will feature an overview of Best Practice in digital training, and we can learn from the mistakes and genius of other providers to provide the best possible introduction to the world of work to our young people.