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Research project "Digital in Learning" 2017/18

Research aims:

  • Overall review of the effect of EdTech products on educational process.
  • Examine the differences in the way the colleges use EdTech in their educational process.

Research activities:

Through observation, informal discussion, and interview, data was gathered over three terms, with a particular focus on behaviours and attitudes in using EdTech (i-GVS content).

Research project "Digital in Learning" 2017/18

679 people from 3 colleges were involved.


  • Profound importance of the tutor role in designing and delivering an integrated experience.
  • Educational institutions, their teaching staff and students, and EdTech developers can gain substantial benefits from co-collaborating in the context of research. Each brings unique perspectives and experiences which, properly harnessed could lead to new practices and EdTech innovation.
  • The question has been put - is there a better way to manage the integration of EdTech and digital skills development?
  • No single, unified approach to blended learning. Each college applied various models, or none, and diverse digital content sources.
  • A key result concerns taking part in the research itself which is shown to have a positive impact on colleges' teaching and learning practices.

Research project "Digital in Learning" 2018/19

Research Objectives

  • Identify specific features and characteristics of modern Vocational Education related to training job-ready specialists equipped with the relevant knowledge, skills and behaviours sets for sustainable work and progression;
  • Investigate the relationship between learner outcomes through formal learning and their job readiness in the VET sector;
  • Identify the role of the teacher versus that of digital mediums;
  • Explore the limitations of formal assessments on learner outcomes;
  • Outline various psychological aspects of knowledge acquisition, comparing traditional against digital methods.

Research Propositions (2018/2019)

  • Compare the known models of blended learning for various sectors and levels of vocational education;
  • Evaluate current digital practices;
  • Compare learner outcomes when taught using traditional methods versus digital methods of knowledge delivery;
  • Explore how learners respond to the new material, in particular how this varies with differing methods of presentation;
  • Investigate learner comprehension of a topic depending on the methods used to deliver the knowledge;
  • Explore the ability of a learner to understand statements, instructions and questions (after identifying the levels of understanding);
  • Identify any positive effects that digital may have on learner retention.

Project Timeline

Preparation stage (February 2016 - October 2018)

Sourcing colleges to partake in the research project and negotiating terms of engagement.

Research planning (November 2018)

Identifying all supporting information to be provided by participating colleges, such as progress reports, usage data etc.

Systematic data collection (December 2018 - April 2019)

Collecting data on the use of different blended learning methods. Preliminary comparison of the outcomes of various pedagogical strategies.

Refinement stage (May 2019 - June 2019)

Formalising the most effective combinations of traditional and digital teaching methods.

In-depth data analysis (June 2019 - August 2019)

Complete and full analysis of the results. Preparing the report for publication.

Further distribution of the most effective practices (September 2019 - December 2019)

Dissemination of best practices and evaluation of how these digital strategies are implemented and used following the recommendations based on the above analysis.

Expected Outcomes (2018/2019)

  • Identify optimal combinations of blended learning and the most effective blended practices for content delivery;
  • Highlight the efficiencies gained in delivering knowledge through the use of digital methods;
  • Understand the requirements for developing the skills of the teachers and curriculum managers so that digital can be successfully implemented in the learning process;
  • Determine new methods of assessment;
  • Identify ways in which learner retention rates can be improved.

Upon completion of the project, it is also hoped to be able to demonstrate the following:

  • That the implementation and correct use of digital methods (in particular, GVS products) will help to improve learner outcomes, increase learner retention and prepare learners to enter the job market;
  • That the cost of delivering skills-based training will be reduced;
  • That the training program guidelines for students and tutors will be elaborated and implemented.

The findings of this research will be published in peer-reviewed journals and reported at relevant conferences, seminars and round-table discussions (including the ones hosted by GVS).

Who Will Benefit From This?

The beneficiaries of this research will be the learners, the research community, people in industry, and educationalists.

The findings of the research might be of use to government, workforce, governors, principles and senior management and teaching staff.

Key results and findings will be shared with the Department for Education.

6 FE colleges with more than

2000 participants will be involved.

GVS Blended Learning Research Project 2017-2018

Initiated in August 2017, this project was aimed to gather information on various teaching practices utilising Blended Learning approaches, and to use this information to further develop and enhance i-GVS products and our delivery platform, GVS PiLOT. The research project is a continuous line of work being carried out in conjunction with several colleges, and is a part of the cooperation agreements signed between GVS and each college.

In the academic year 2017-2018, three colleges have actively participated in the research project, those being:

  • Hopwood Hall College
  • Heart of Worcestershire College
  • Basingstoke College of Technology

These colleges are some of the UK’s leading establishments, with technological and digital strategies at the forefront of their teaching, making them valuable project participants.

As part of the cooperation and research process, Global Vocational Skills provided to the colleges:

  • User licences for i-GVS products
  • Free access to the cloud-based platform GVS PiLOT
  • New product trials and previews
  • Full support and training of college staff on how to use and benefit from the GVS Solution
  • Free access to the CMS (Content Management System) tool, for creation of bespoke learning courses and surface-level editing  

In return, the tutors and the curriculum managers of the above colleges cooperated in the research project by:

  • Actively using i-GVS products throughout the academic year 2017-2018
  • Participating in regular staff training on how to use digital technology in their delivery
  • Participating in termly research and feedback meetings
  • Providing anonymous progress reports to help assess and improve the effectiveness of the GVS Solution
  • Submitting attendance records and schemes of work designed to address various delivery issues
  • Providing feedback and development suggestions for the GVS products and platform improvement, including the LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) connection
  • Providing expert consultations to support the development of new products as subject matter experts and contributing authors

As a result, findings from the research project 2017-2018 were utilised to:

  • Outline a number of Blended Learning methodologies with real-life examples of practices used in the UK colleges
  • Identify the key ‘pain points’ in the definition and interpretation of blended learning by colleges
  • Describe basic college infrastructure and staffing changes required to implement their digital strategies
  • Open an opportunity and new focus for further research work activities with the current and new colleges in the UK
  • Attract widespread interest from the FE sector decision makers and subject matter experts, including internationally
  • Aid further GVS product development

As a way of disseminating the valuable information gained as a result of the research carried out, GVS also hosted a Blended learning conference with thought provoking presentations and engaging workshops, providing a platform for open discussion and the sharing of experiences.

The intention for the project during the academic year 2018-2019 is to work with more colleges, to obtain a broader picture of how they are using digital technology, and which types of blended learning work best for them.

If you would like to participate in our Blended Learning Research Project in the next academic year or to request a free demo of our content, please get in touch.

Click below to see the full final report for the GVS Blended Learning Research Project 2017-2018 as well as view case studies from our previous work with colleges.