Last updated: 18.03.14

Tech group wants 10% of FE course content online by 2015/16

>A leading technology group has called on the government to innovate further education (FE) curriculums by putting in place a quota for online content.

According to the Further Education Technology Action Group (Feltag), all courses at this level funded by the state should have a minimum of at least ten per cent online content by as soon as 2015/16.

The government task force put the suggestion to skills minister Matthew Hancock at the recent Education Innovation Conference in Manchester, adding that incentives should be put in place to increase the proportion of online course content to 50 per cent by 2017/18.

FE Week reports that the group's study documents evidence of the fact that online learning is particularly effective at helping those who are most disengaged from conventional teaching methods. Feltag wants open access to course-related documents online, as well as web-enabled seminars and face-to-face discussions to complement on-location learning.

Nick Lambert, head of the Feltag programme, said that the notion of ten per cent of course content being moved online was one that came up repeatedly in discussions, but many felt it was something that "was never going to happen" without ministerial intervention.

A government response to the report is expected within the next month and mr Hancock was keen to emphasis the benefits that technology can bring to education by driving up standards. 

"It's about empowering teachers and using technology to improve and strengthen teaching," he said. "That may mean there are some changes to how teaching happens, for instance becoming more mentoring and more imparting of those very human characteristics you can't get from the internet."

The skills minister also drew attention to the challenges that would face an effective rollout of any such mandate, and the potential pitfalls of it being boiled down to little more than a "tick boxing exercise". This is something that ministers will now need to assess in formulating their response to the report.