Last updated: 28.06.13

Online learning 'is revolutionising the education system'

The advent of online learning is creating a fundamental change in the way further education providers operate, allowing them to meet the challenges of an increasingly global student base.

This is according to Birmingham Metropolitan College, which told the Independent that it has successfully introduced e-learning technology in a way that has allowed it to meet the needs of a broader range of pupils than ever before.

It has become increasingly common for the college to manage lessons online for hundreds of apprentices spread across nine different countries, including far-flung nations such as Russia and China.

Paul Bamforth, course coordinator for the college's foundation degree in counselling studies, told the newspaper: "You can't expect all students to turn up at lessons and access education in the way they used to. Indeed, some may not be able to turn up at all - for very good reasons."

By making academic materials available to students and lecturers online through an e-learning platform, satisfaction with the institution's teaching setup has increased, with Mr Bamforth stating that pupils now feel they have greater ownership of their own education.

This flexible approach also helps to address a number of traditional problems faced by many colleges, including how best to accommodate a mix of academic and job-related courses, as well as how to cater to the needs of a complex mixture of full and part-time students of various ages and ability levels.

Mr Bamforth said: "Professional development is now fun and much more useful. You're like a child in a sweet shop with all your favourite sweets on display."

Earlier this week, Allison Littlejohn, director of the Caledonian Academy at Glasgow Caledonian University, told the Guardian that higher education providers can learn a lot from the world of online professional development, particularly in terms of user engagement and the ease of connecting with others.