Collaboration is the order of the day at the Scottish Learning Festival 2018

Storm Ali may have wreaked havoc across the country on Wednesday but it did not stop event goers turning out for the second day of the Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow on Thursday.

The theme for this year’s event was Collaborating for Improvement – ensuring that young people are having a greater say in decisions that affect their lives and to ensure they are reaching their potential both inside and outside of the classroom.

Hundreds flocked to day two at the Scottish Exhibition Centre to view and compare the latest educational ideas and resources displayed by more than 200 hundred organisations in a bustling exhibition hall.

A wide range of seminars also ran throughout the day, highlighting the impact positive collaboration can have on students’ development as well as others in the wider community.

Edinburgh College curriculum leader for Modern Languages Caroline Cordier hosted a seminar demonstrating the college’s innovative collaborations with secondary schools using online learning to ensure students across Scotland can access language tuition despite a language not being offered in their schools.

Against the backdrop of a decline in teaching provision for Modern Languages across Scottish schools, the college has formed constructive partnerships to ensure secondary pupils from East Lothian to the Highlands and islands, can learn the languages they want by plugging into the college’s online platform. Pupils get access to Moodle, the college’s online learning platform and can work their way through various language learning resources. Speaking practice takes place via Skype or Google Hangout calls.

“This structure of learning allows for increased flexibility for both students and school teachers who may find that timetabling issues can prevent pupils from learning all of the subjects they’d like”, said Caroline.

“Skype sessions are arranged to fit in with timetables while Moodle allows for coursework to be completed by the students at their own pace, meeting agreed deadlines.

“This mode of study also allows students more of a say in their learning, perhaps the first time they will experience such autonomy over their studies, as well as developing other transferrable skills such as organisational and IT skills.

“Ultimately, the purpose of developing partnerships with schools is to maintain a healthy provision of Modern Languages teaching across Scotland, which in turn will reduce pressures on schools and help our young people to achieve their potential.”

The college currently has around 60 open-learning students – a mixture of school pupils (for whom courses are free) and part-time learners – enrolled to study French, German, Italian and Spanish at levels varying from National 5 to Advanced Higher.

And, these partnerships are already reaping rewards for students. In 2015/16 a student who completed the college’s online course through her school achieved the highest Advanced Higher French mark in Scotland.

“While we are constantly looking at ways to improve our open-learning courses, we are very pleased with the results and feedback we have received so far”, said Caroline.

“Now we want to build on this success and we aim to support as many students who wish to study Modern Languages in Scotland as we can.”

All in all, an extremely positive day was had at the Scottish Learning Festival, where the theme of innovative working and collaboration resonated across the venue – from that, it’s clear that by working together there’s no limit to what can be achieved for our students.