Case Study – The Open University
The OPEN UNIVERSITY – Vocational Qualifications Assessment Centre
The Open University provides high-quality distance learning. It was the world’s first successful distance teaching university, founded on the belief that communications technology could bring high quality degree-level learning to people who had not had the opportunity to attend traditional campus universities. The Open University has for many years now also had a Vocational Qualification Assessment Centre, delivering a wide range of qualifications.
WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE BEFORE USING ECORDIA ?
Before switching to Ecordia, we were using a paper-based portfolio system which resulted in:
high postage costs
ineffective submission tracking.
This increased the time needed to assess and internally quality assure work—which potentially could have reduced the time to track turnaround times and follow up with our learners. The progress of learners towards unit completion and full qualification completion could only be monitored by manually updating in-house tracking systems and reviewing paper-based assessment records, thus making the process time consuming and lengthy. To combat these issues we tried a couple of alternative solutions, including an electronic submission of work and assessment records via email, as well as the introduction of Excel spread-sheets for tracking work per assessor and IQA. However these created complications for learners attempting to scan documents in.
There were also some problems with software incompatibility. And finally the IT ability of users affected the quality of evidence being submitted, especially in relation to evidence matrices.
WHAT WAS THE TIPPING POINT THAT LED YOU TO FIND AN ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION?
Primarily it was storage space that became a problem for us – the sheer volume of paper-based files for all learners (and work submitted), separate assessment and IQA records. This created retrieval problems if a file was needed instantly.
“As learner numbers increased; more and more resource was spent to file, monitor and maintain the paper-based records. We needed a better solution”.
HOW HAS ECORDIA SPECIFICALLY ADDRESSED THESE PROBLEMS?
All evidence, assessment and QA are stored in one place, submission date is clear and target completion can be applied to all activities and the qualification. Workflow monitoring and management data (to follow up on assessment and quality assurance turnaround) is available through the system.
“Percentage completion can be viewed instantly by learners, assessors and the VQ learner support team.This is motivational and effective in terms of accurately monitoring progress”.
WHAT ARE THE FEATURES YOU LOVE ABOUT ECORDIA ?
● Access for all the VQ Learner Support Team in an instant. This is vital in terms of the email and telephone support offered to our learners. The team can now access information quickly and effectively to resolve issues.
● The percentage completion for units and qualification is motivational and very effective in monitoring progress. It also enables the team to offer support in relation to a targeted completion timeframe.
● Reporting facilities now inform most administrative processes within the centre such as preparing for EV visits, targeting completion using the traffic light system, Reporting upon activity, accessing log-in reports and providing sponsors with progress reports for groups of learners.
WHY DO YOU LOVE THESE FEATURES?
Access for all of the VQ Learner Support team has maximised efficiency in dealing with learner support queries and has increased learner satisfaction.
Time-saving for assessment and QA is also beneficial. There is a much quicker turnaround by assessors, which has also led to the increased levels of learner satisfaction.
Reduction in administration when accessing learner records is another time saving benefit.
HOW HAS ECORDIA HELPED YOU TO DELIVER VOCATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS ?
● Bite-sized chunks of activity can be made available through the e-portfolio. ● This gives us a more structured approach to offering our qualifications by distance learning. ● The ability to manage the content of our qualifications; we can view, amend, update and revise the activities and content of the e-portfolio instantly. ● There is no risk of work being lost in the post. ● The default requirement to provide feedback for every activity enables us to view all feedback for every activity and use such records to standardise assessment practice.