Welcome to episode 12 of the Art of Learning podcast.
We’re joined by Dr Stephen Corbett, Head of School of Languages and Applied Linguistics at the University of Portsmouth, to discuss the challenges of delivering high-quality education in an ever-changing, fluid world.
We kick off by discussing Dr Corbett’s day-to-day responsibilities as a school head (0:54), the importance of recognising further education managers in the wider education ecosystem (2:27), what the consequences are of sub-par middle management in education (9:28), whether there are inadequate resources dedicated to assist education managers (12:44), the characteristics and traits that make for a successful middle manager in education, and more (16:38).
As demand for English language learning grows in popularity across Asia, innovations in learning technologies are changing how educators are approaching the challenge of equipping learners with the English skills (and knowledge) required to succeed personally and professionally – in everyday life, in academia and in professional settings.
The rise of technology-assisted study – or in other words, pedagogy that is underpinned by technology – allows teachers to obtain and analyse student performance data in near real-time and it allows educators to use the gained learnings to tailor the learning experience to meet individual requirements, and it is having a profound effect on modern English language teaching (ELT).
Additionally, as a by-product of technology-driven pedagogy, educators can now leverage education data to provide invaluable insights for learners to help them shape their learning journey, for teachers to understand their cohort’s strengths and weaknesses, and for education leaders to get a clear view on their courseware infrastructure in order to make timely decisions on optimising the wider teaching and learning framework provided at their institution. This current shift is fundamentally presenting data-driven decision-making opportunities in education that simply weren’t possible in previous years.
And there are several variables that have allowed for a more data-driven approach to the modern classroom: an increase in training, coupled with the emergence of new technologies, and the implementation of new common standards, to name a few.
With globalisation, automation and advancements in technology, future skills have never been more important.
We gained exclusive access to Pearson’s Jason Gregory (International Director, UK BTEC & Apprenticeships) to gather his insights on the importance of future skills and the crucial role educators play in preparing learners for future workforce demands.
So, what’s inside the eBook?
Working together means the world can be a more resilient, capable and inclusive place: the role of all stakeholders working in unison (learners, educators, business leaders and policy makers)
Baking future skills into modern curriculum to enable an ‘always learning’ mindset
The role of educators in developing the future skills of learners
Remaining competitive with up-to-date future skills … plus more!
Beat your competitors to it — download your free copy today.
Welcome to episode 2 of the Art of Learning podcast, brought to you by Pearson Asia.
We're joined by Lê Thị Phượng Liên, Deputy Director of International Education - BTEC at the American Polytechnic College in Hồ Chí Minh, to discuss the power of vocational education and the importance of linking qualifications to jobs.
We introduce the American Polytechnic College (1:23), we discuss why Pearson's BTEC qualifications stand out (4:34), the importance of guidance from your education partners (6:39), student feedback on hands-on learning (9:07), and Lê Thị Phượng Liên offers her advice on implementing BTEC qualifications in your institution (10:53).
In Thailand, the high-end manufacturing sector is booming. Aided in part by the government’s support, there is real enthusiasm for specialised engineering learning, and many young Thais are looking for careers in what is becoming an increasingly competitive field.
In response, the country’s higher-education institutions, such as King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL), are catering to this increase in interest.
With many younger, aspiring engineers focused on advanced fields like nanotechnology, undergraduates in the STEM disciplines are looking for additional courses to give them much-needed practical knowledge, and ultimately, an edge in the job market.
In schools like KMITL, this heightened interest in specialised education has led to an increased adoption of high-quality, practical qualifications like BTEC.
These courses, which are highly experience-based and geared towards the skills that make graduates attractive to employers, allow students who value hands-on experience and practical learning to get tangible qualifications that can really make a difference when entering the workforce.
What is BTEC?
For over 30 years BTEC qualifications have offered an engaging alternative to more academic, traditional learning models.
Based on real-life work skills and knowledge, these qualifications are more attractive to students who have a career path in mind and want the relevant experience related to their chosen field – in STEM, health, sport, business, IT, the creative industries, and more. Because the courses are focused on “learning by doing,” BTEC students work on assignments set in real-life scenarios and can put their learning into practice straight away.
Employers benefit just as much, secure in the knowledge that new graduates from BTEC programs have the relevant skills – and experience – to hit the ground running. It’s a proven strategy – according to global data, some 90% of BTEC students are employed full-time after graduating.
The courses have developed as a way to unify English with technical and vocational qualifications, giving educators a framework around which to experiment and innovate in the way they teach, and offering their students the range of skills needed to thrive in today’s competitive job market.
KMITL – a Thai educational innovator
KMITL, a research and educational institution in Bangkok, has a heavy STEM focus and its reputation for imparting high-quality vocational training makes it an ideal partner to pilot BTEC Higher Nationals, internationally recognized vocational qualifications equivalent to the first two years of a university degree. KMITL has long been an innovator in Thai education, including awarding the country’s first doctoral degree in electrical engineering, and is associated with the Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network (SEED-NET).
While BTEC programs have been known at the high-school level in Thailand for some time, KMITL is pioneering its application for tertiary-level learners through new courses in Manufacturing Engineering and Management & Leadership.
The KMITL selection process for inclusion in its BTEC program is exacting, with only nine successful applicants for every 100, according to Dr. Chatrpol Pakasiri, a BTEC instructor at the institution. Students studying science, technology or engineering bachelor’s degrees are encouraged to apply.
Dr. Chatrpol has been teaching at KMITL for six years and helms the institution’s BTEC course on the principles of electrical engineering.
He says that while the BTEC curriculum is similar in many ways to the coursework he previously taught, his students benefit greatly from the practical experience, noting that those in his program directly “learn about manufacturing,” which will help them find jobs after graduation.
He adds that the new methodology, with a greater focus on self-starting and engaging learning, allows his students to “take responsibility for themselves,” which is a quality highly attractive to potential employers. He says that the course is ideal for motivated students who are prepared to work hard and many of his BTEC students are so involved in the course and value the practical aspects so highly, a simple passing grade isn’t enough for them: they are aiming, instead, to graduate with distinction.
He adds that the course is a hugely valuable additional qualification, which can be taken concurrently with their undergraduate degree courses. “It’s like having a second degree – usually if you want to have two degrees, it’s difficult to do so in different fields. Either [the students] would have to go back and get another bachelor’s degree and spend more time doing it – so in that respect it’s very good.”
Road to success
As the higher-level BTEC qualifications are relatively new to Thailand’s universities, their benefits are – for now – somewhat unfamiliar to the hiring departments of the country’s manufacturing and engineering industries.
But Dr. Chatrpol sees the qualification as having a bright future in Thailand. He is confident that as class after class of BTEC students graduate and enter the workforce, their worth will come to be known and valued by employers. “Awareness of BTEC will improve as students start to graduate and get their certificates. Then industry will get to know their capabilities,” he says.
Dr. Chatrpol says that KMITL plans to introduce additional BTEC courses into its current rotation across hospitality management, management and leadership, and business. He hopes that expanding the course options will further establish his institution as a BTEC leader in Thailand and attract top talent from across the Southeast Asian nation and beyond.
As demand for English language learning continues to grow in popularity across Asia, innovations in learning technologies are changing how educators in the region are approaching the challenge of equipping non-native speakers with the proficiency required to succeed in academia and the professional world.
The increased functionality of tech-assisted study, which allows teachers to collect and analyse student performance in near real-time and use that data to customise the learning experience, is having a profound effect on how teachers and students are approaching English language teaching (ELT), and some of the region’s most enthusiastic language learners are benefiting.
Emerging economies such as Vietnam and Thailand have an especially “huge demand and appetite for language learning,” driven largely by the recognition that being able to comprehend and converse in another language, particularly English, is a powerful driver for, primarily, career advancement, says Stuart Connor, Pearson Asia’s Qualifications & Assessment Director.
The governments of both countries are recognising this demand and are shaping their English language and vocational curriculums to give their citizens the helping hand they need to prosper in the global economy. They are “acutely aware of how important English is going to be to future prosperity, to driving a growing economy, and to attracting more foreign direct investment,” says Stuart.
Of course, preparing learners of English for a successful future call for the right course materials, learning environments and qualifications. This includes setting high benchmarks for success, such as using materials based on international ESL (English as a Second Language) standards and aiming for a level of B1, or intermediate, level as measured in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), according to Stuart.
Deep dive into data
As commendable as these ambitious targets are, the following questions remain:
At what level are students starting their language-learning journey?
Is there enough time to get students to the level expected by the time they graduate?
Are teachers sufficiently qualified or skilled to be able to teach the skills that need teaching?
Do teachers have the resources they need to be able to drive improvements?
To that end, gathering and analysing learning and proficiency data is increasingly becoming part of an educator’s toolbox. Each student has their own needs, and it's important to have individual learning pathways, points out Kayo Taguchi, Pearson Asia’s ELT Portfolio Manager. Knowing exactly what a learner’s true level is, and having clear goals for progress over a specific period of time, are key to managing their language development.
“Everyone learns at a different pace. In the same class, you could have slow learners as well as fast learners,” says Kayo. “Each of them has different strengths and challenges and these need to be addressed.”
This is made possible by the continuous collection and analysis of data, which can identify strengths and weaknesses at a granular level. When this information is fed back into the learning process, it helps to create a feedback loop that enables the creation of a unique, customised and effective learning experience for the student. As Stuart notes, “The feedback cycle of teach, learn, assess – it's just ongoing.”
Having that level of insight, Kayo says, is key to keeping students enthusiastic and inspired to continue learning. “Being able to identify an individual’s strengths and challenges will help educators build student motivation,” she says, adding that tech-assisted learning environments can be invaluable to the process.
The future of language learning
So, how does technology assist educators in the quest to teach better? “Pearson uses a range of tools, including artificial intelligence, to gather and analyse data on the learning process in order to decipher patterns and create portraits of a classroom and its individual students at scale and at speed,” according to Stuart.
Pearson’s data-driven analytics abilities mean that it can capture highly specific details, and present the information quickly and in a way that teachers can understand. They can then use that knowledge to make better decisions around how they teach, and how they focus and curate each learner’s approach.
For instance, Pearson uses machine learning to rapidly and accurately score tests and break down each student’s performance by skill, even speaking skills. And if a learner has a specific weakness say, at a certain level of speaking in a certain context, there will be feedback and recommendations as to which particular sections of the courseware can effectively address this particular gap in their skill level, all powered by technology, all without human intervention.
Educators are also acquiring the ability to impart training, gather data and analyse performance remotely, something that is increasingly becoming important. “We're having to completely change our teaching methodologies due to the coronavirus pandemic, as we move at unprecedented speeds towards remote and online learning,” says Stuart.
Pearson is adapting to the new ground realities of an increasingly digital world by integrating assessments into courseware that can be accessed digitally through the company’s learning platforms.
Ultimately, it’s clear that however the world may look when we return to a “new normal”, the influence of technology and data on pedagogy is real and here to stay.
Welcome to episode 1 of the Art of Learning podcast, brought to you by Pearson Asia.
In this episode, we're joined by Kayo Taguchi, Pearson Asia's ELT Portfolio Manager, and Stuart Connor, Pearson Asia's Qualifications and Assessment Director, to discuss why it’s important to link courseware with assessment, and how such an approach produces better testing outcomes across a range of qualifications.
We dive into the impact of COVID-19 on their day-to-day roles (1:16), the appetite for English language learning across Asia (2:22), whether traditional teaching methods are outdated (4:51), the concept of linking courseware with assessment (8:18), the impact of data and analytics on teaching and learning (11:48), and we put a bow on the discussion by sharing advice and strategies for adapting to the modern world of teaching (15:42).