The importance of high quality vocational resources

There are many, many resources available to teachers both on and offline, free and paid.  Among all the choice, it can be a difficult task to pick out high quality, relevant resources that can be easily incorporated into your teaching.

Resources are an essential tool for teachers.  However, it is important that resources are curriculum-relevant to be both useful and useable.  When it comes to vocational subjects, it is paramount that the resources teachers are selecting are positioned for the type of learners that study vocational awards.  It is often the case that learners who have a more vocational based curriculum have an alternative set of skills to those learners who study more ‘traditional’ subjects.  Some students, including those with additional needs, learn more successfully when they are practically involved in “hands-on” activities. Good learning and teaching resources should help learners to construct knowledge for themselves and develop effective learning strategies, thus laying a solid foundation for life-long learning.

Vocational teachers often require two sets of professional skills. They need to be experts in teaching and learning; that is, pedagogical approaches. Identifying a student’s learning style and adapting the teaching style to suit is vital for successful vocational qualifications. Vocational teachers are also required to be experts in the subject they are delivering.  This can be challenging when vocational subjects are oftentimes an additional subject, above that which the teacher is already delivering.

So what makes a good vocational subject resource ? Perhaps most importantly, it should be clear how a resource builds on and is built on the qualification specification.  Even if the resource is wonderfully interactive and engaging, if it holds no relevance to the content of the course, it will unlikely be of benefit to your learners.

Another key element of a high-quality resource is its simplicity to implement.  We all know a teacher’s time is precious, and any resource worth using needs to provide a good return on the time invested in delivering it.  If a resource requires a great amount of preparation time to be beneficial, it is unlikely to be particularly useable for a teacher.  Therefore, it is imperative that the resource is relevant and ready to use.

Vocational resources should facilitate interaction among students and teachers during the learning/ teaching process. The ability for teachers to provide positive feedback to learners is crucial. Good resources should provide opportunities to give praise, rewarding small steps rather than waiting for big achievements, and allowing teachers to tailor rewards to each individual pupil so they are meaningful.

Resources must be inclusive in order to be truly effective.  In the 2010 report on the teaching of pupils with SEN, Ofsted noted that the key priority for all children must be “good teaching and learning”.  The survey found that some of the most vulnerable students in schools were not getting the highest quality teaching and learning and this was leading to underachievement.  Inclusive, high-quality resources ensure that the needs of all students are met, increasing confidence in their ability as a learner.

Multimedia resources such as web-based materials, computer software packages or online learning platforms have many advantages in helping students’ learning.  They offer flexibility and adaptability to both teachers and learners, often providing a multi-sensory experience with the possibility of interactivity.  Resources which are accessible online can provide learners and teachers with a feeling of connectedness.

In the current climate, online resources can also allow students to smoothly transition away from a physical classroom.  Learners may encounter difficulties with motivation and focus whilst at home, which is why it is excellent when resources are readily available to keep their minds engaged to ensure they are developing their knowledge whilst absent from the classroom. In this way, pupils can delve into the subject matter through self-directed learning.

Online resources can also reduce the workload of teachers who will likely be busy preparing new lesson plans and taking on additional tasks from colleagues who are unwell.  Giving students access to curriculum-aligned, online learning platforms such as iAchieve provides an engaging alternative to traditional studying, whilst offering the curriculum continuity to help them stay focused.

Of course, classroom resources alone cannot guarantee effective learning and teaching.  But there do have the potential to improve the breadth of curriculum a school can offer, supporting teachers to implement additional subjects they may not previously have had the capacity to deliver.  High quality vocational resources can significantly increase the engagement of learners and lead to improved attainment.

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