By Richard Horton

The economic climate has led many employers to demand more from their employees: they are required to have the relevant skills when entering employment and maintain the skills required to grow with their role. Many are therefore returning to education so they can adapt to changes to their existing role, for promotion, or to retrain for a whole new career. Richard Horton, Regional Vice President, EMEA at Blackboard outlines the findings of a recent survey Blackboard carried out amongst students in further and higher education.

The survey provides an interesting insight into how modern day technologies are providing a number of innovations in educational delivery and the flexibility it gives workers to balance a career with education to further their skills. It revealed that 62% of students believe online learning helps students to achieve higher results. It also uncovered the criticality of having 24/7 access to course content, with 42% regularly choosing to work between the hours of 9pm and 1am.

Delivering the skills today’s employers are looking for is already a key objective for educational institutions and SME’s tend to take on a large proportion of their staff from local FE colleges. Newcastle, Doncaster and Middlesborough College have already had incredible success with investing in employer training schemes which benefit all parties; the college gets input into the relevance of its course syllabus and assessment criteria, the students increase their employability and the hiring business gets ready-trained employees.

For employers, online collaboration with a college or university requires minimal technical investment and is a tremendous way of influencing the course curriculum to ensure a higher standard of existing employee or new recruit. While for the employees themselves, the ability to interact with the course anytime, anywhere via their computer or mobile device allows them to best manage their time to balance study around work and other commitments. If you’re already working with a college or university or are planning to in the future, be sure to ask what facilities they have in place to promote online collaboration and enhance the learning experience.

About The Author

Richard Horton is Regional Vice President, EMEA at Blackboard, the education software company that works with more than 5,000 institutions and millions of users. A free summary of this research, entitled, Innovation in Education: The Student Experience, can be downloaded from the following link: http://bb.blackboard.com/studentexperience2010