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Digital learning policy

The digital learning policy outlines the management intention that LASALS expects should be met when staff are delivering online learning. The requirements of the policy are in addition to the normal expectations, as detailed in the service’s quality assurance policy, tutor handbook and learner handbook.

Distance Learning (DL) takes place when the teacher and learner are in physically separate locations. In this mode of delivery, access to the tutor and learners is enabled through the use of technology defined as online or e-learning. The interaction between the learner and tutor may be synchronous (in real time) or asynchronous (with a time delay) or a mixture of both. Distance learning may also be paper-based, in which case the interaction will be asynchronous.

Flexible and Blended Learning (FBL) combines aspects of distance learning and synchronous educational practices and can involve a learner undertaking their studies both on and offline.

The enhancement of staff capabilities in delivering learning online is a fundamental factor in whether online learning is effective. Development of content (taken here to include learning activities as well as materials), interactions with learners and responses to their needs online can be very different than in classroom-based teaching. This is not just relevant to distance learning courses but particularly crucial to 'blended learning' where classroom and online activities must be integrated in ways that allow them to deliver learning as a coherent and effective whole.

If teaching in online environments (and online learning) is to be successful, staff development is key ensuring that tutors can deliver distance learning effectively, plan and manage their time, communicate with learners, and assess learners’ performance. Induction and training for Google Classroom/Meet will be provided throughout the year. Staff are expected to attend these sessions in order to ensure that the quality of teaching and learning in the virtual environment.

1.1  General Principle

Guiding the quality assurance and enhancement requirements of DL courses is the general principle that learners studying part, or all, of their course by DL have an experience which is comparable with December 2020. Other learners attending classes at LASALS, supported by a shared understanding of the expectations and responsibilities of all parties involved.

1.2  Approval of DL provision

A taught course delivered by DL, is expected to be of equal quality to any other course delivered by LASALS and, as part of the approval process, it must demonstrate that it shall meet learners’ needs effectively.

Courses delivered by DL, shall be approved in the same way as any other course. In addition, the following key questions shall need consideration by the curriculum team and supported by adequate documentation:

  • the management of the learning experience;
  • staff skills and training;
  • learner support arrangements; and
  • contingency plans in case of technological failure or inability to access the online platforms

1.3  Learning Engagement and Annual Monitoring

All DL shall be subject to the service’s annual monitoring and self-assessment processes and evaluation. This shall include specific questions about learners’ experiences of DL teaching and learning, and working remotely using technology to enhance provision.

Where an issue arises relating to the DL arrangements, this should be brought to the attention of management and tutors or learners concerned immediately and attempts to resolve the problem should be put in place at the earliest opportunity. If the issue cannot be resolved and the service deems that the learners are unable to proceed with their studies as a result of this, the learner(s) will be transferred to another mode of delivery and/or course, where possible.

1.4  Expectations of the Service, its Staff, and its Learners

Learning is a partnership between staff across the service and individual learners. There is a shared set of expectations between staff and learners. Specifically, in relation to DL, courses shall ensure that learners are provided with:

  • a delivery system of the course that is secure, reliable and fit for its purpose;
  • study materials that meet the expectations of the service in respect of the quality of teaching and learning;
  • an appropriate contingency plan, which would come into operation in the event of failure of the designed mode of delivery;
  • from the outset of the learners’ study, at least one identified contact, either local or remote through email, telephone and post, who can give constructive feedback on academic performance and progress;
  • information about when and how they may contact tutors, a clear schedule for the delivery of their study materials and for assessment of their work;
  • a clear and realistic explanation of the expectations placed upon them for study of the programme, and for the nature and extent of autonomous, collaborative and supported aspects of learning plus details of the minimum technical requirements to participate in online learning (see Appendix A);
  • regular opportunities for learner discussions about the course, both to facilitate collaborative learning and to provide a basis for facilitating their participation in the quality assurance and enhancement of the programme;
  • appropriate opportunities to give formal feedback on their experience of the programme;
  • access to all academic regulations and policies, including the Digital Learning Policy.

 

Learners shall ensure that:

  • they have regular and reliable access to the internet with appropriate firewall protection and a computer that meets the minimum technical requirements set by the course;
  • they ensure that their device and applications are updated to the latest version possible to prevent known vulnerabilities from being exploited;
  • they make their own arrangements for IT support to resolve technical failures relating to their Internet Service Provider, firewall protection and their computer hardware and software as the service can only answer queries or provide support for service-owned equipment;
  • they ensure that they understand the basic terms and descriptions used in computing so that they can follow instructions about how to use their computer to study and communicate;
  • they engage with the learning materials and mode of delivery;
  • they conform to the schedule for the course delivery and assessment, monitor the receipt of materials and alert the service if materials are corrupted or fail to arrive;
  • they take responsibility for developing their IT skills, where appropriate or seek support from the service;
  • they regularly check their Leicesterlearns accounts to which essential information may be sent by the

1.1  Admission and IAG requirements

To qualify for consideration for admission to a DL course, applicants shall meet the normal entry requirements of the course.

1.2  Enrolment

Enrolment and re-enrolment shall be conducted online, by telephone or post

1.3  Induction

For DL courses, induction will normally be conducted online, unless learners are required to attend a formal induction at LASALS.  Learners will be guided to online resources that induct them into how to learn online, online behaviour and expectations.

1.1  Learners should have access to:

  • information on the ways in which their achievements will be judged, and the relative weighting of units, modules or elements of the programme in respect of assessment overall;
  • timely formative assessment on their academic performance to provide a basis for individual constructive feedback and guidance, and to illustrate the awarding institution's expectations for summative assessment.

1.2  Curriculum Managers should ensure that:

  • tutors with responsibility for assessment can confirm that a learner’s assessed work is the original work of that learner only, particularly in cases where the assessment is conducted through remote

The service has responsibility for providing and maintaining the VLE system, namely Google Classroom. The delivery system for synchronous sessions must be Google Meet (see Appendix B).

  • Delivery - learners should be confident that:
  • any course or element offered for study has had the reliability of its delivery system tested, and that contingency plans would come into operation in the event of the failure of the designed modes of delivery;
  • the delivery system of the course or element of study delivered through e-learning methods is fit for its purpose, and has an appropriate availability and life expectancy;
  • the delivery of any study materials is secure and reliable, and that there is a means of confirming its safe
    • Assessment - learners should be confident that:
  • their assessed work is properly attributed to them, particularly in cases where the assessment is conducted through remote methods that might be vulnerable to interception or other interference;
  • any mechanisms, such as web-based methods or correspondence, for the transfer of their work directly to assessors, are secure and reliable, and that there is a means of proving or confirming the safe receipt of their work.

Staff are responsible for ensuring that their use of Google Classroom/Meet complies with service policies, and legislation including: Copyright; Data Protection Act; Computer Misuse Act; and The Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations (2018).

Staff are also responsible for ensuring that the learning materials added to their classrooms do not infringe confidentiality, copyright, or the intellectual property rights of others.

The service will:

  • ensure online tuition follows best practice and is in line with the service’s safeguarding policy.
  • remind staff of their safeguarding obligations
  • report any safeguarding incidents or potential concerns according to the service
  • remind learners of who they can contact within the service for help or support.