Bauer Academy Post Pandemic Approach


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Research Strategy

Written By Courtnay McLeod

Overview

In February 2020, three weeks before the first lockdown, Bauer Academy stopped all face-to-face delivery. The senior team’s priority was to protect learners and Academy team members from a virus, but Directors and Governors immediately raised concerns about the potential for online delivery to compromise the quality of Bauer Academy’s industry immersed provision.  As a result, the senior leadership team immediately launched a strategic project to monitor changes and track the impact on learners, clients, programme leaders, and tutors. 

This work evolved into a two-year project, including primary and secondary research, and regular consultation with various stakeholders. Dozens of learners, clients, and Bauer Academy team members contributed, which ensured the quality of Bauer Academy provision remained exceptionally high during the pandemic and it also set the foundations for Bauer Academy’s post pandemic strategy.

The extensive research project captures the shift in learner expectations and needs, the impact of new technologies on teaching and learning, and the increased requirement for community and enrichment activities. This summary paper highlights key themes from the research project and outlines Bauer Academy’s commitment to ensuring high quality training within a new educational landscape. 

Key Themes

Assessing Technology

Supported by Bauer Media’s IT experts, our Education Director led research into online teaching methods, sourced new tools for interactive workshops, and embedded new best practice across delivery team roles. Gathering extra feedback from learners allowed us to identify additional support needs and resulted in the introduction of more group huddles and individual reviews. Utilising new technologies supported the delivery of interactive, inclusive workshops. As a result: 

  • Learner numbers rose significantly in 20/21 
  • Workshop attendance remained above 90% 
  • Targeted survey results showed extremely positive views on online learning experience 
  • End Point Assessment (EPA) pass rates rose – up to 99% in 20/21 

From learners surveyed (20/21):

  • 100% said what they were learning was having a positive impact on their role
  • 100% felt safe and supported by the Bauer Academy
  • 88% said the programme enabled them to achieve personal goals
  • 88% believed they were better prepared for the next step in their career

Enhanced Quality Monitoring

During the pandemic, Bauer Academy introduced more internal quality monitoring processes which generated the following themes: 

  • Online workshops needed shorter durations and/or higher frequency breaks, with a variety of activities to reduce screen time and increased space for collaboration and group work
  • Learners reported online teaching was beneficial to their wellbeing and improved time management, with less distractions and greater autonomy when learning at home
  • Recordings of online workshop became a revision tool, supporting learners in revision and end point assessment preparations. 

Experimenting with Blended Approaches

Learners and employers regularly indicated that post pandemic they wanted the ‘best of both worlds’ with a blended approach. When Covid-19 restrictions allowed, teaching trials were held in Bauer and client offices to test hybrid and hy-flex teaching methods. 

This activity provided excellent insight into the challenges of hy-flex approaches. Technology enabled us to deliver workshops with online and in person attendance, but both learners and tutors reported this did not provide an inclusive learning environment. 

Employers’ Responses 

  • All employers cited examples of learners benefiting from online teaching and felt confident most learners preferred either online or a blended approach over exclusively face to face delivery
  • Positive outcomes were noted around Bauer Academy’s online workshops being highly interactive and easily accessible
  • Most employers referenced online delivery reducing travel time which benefited people’s wellbeing, reduced financial costs, and supported sustainability policies 
  • Most employers cited concerns around ensuring learning cultures remained visible when people were increasingly learning outside the office.

Learners’ Responses 

  • All learners cited multiple benefits of online learning, and many felt they were more productive when learning at home. 
  • Most learners preferred online training workshops but wanted increased opportunities to connect with tutors and peers for collaborative projects or social activities
  • Some learners reported online delivery allowed them to overcome barriers to learning (e.g. travel costs) and provided a more inclusive learning environment 
  • With geographical boundaries removed, learners felt they were connecting with more people, and this was resulting in better networking and increased collaborations. 
  • Feedback showed workshops were seen as interactive and engaging, with online delivery being described as ‘feeling different’ to school or college, which was preferred.

Bauer Academy Commitment

Bauer Academy acknowledge the many benefits of online workshops, but we also understand the importance of community, connections, and in-person interactions. It’s clear that a flexible, blended approach is required to meet the changing needs of employers and learners. However, we do not believe hy-flex approaches provide high quality learning experiences. Therefore, our approach is a careful blend of what we now know works and what we believe will add additional value. 

Bauer Academy’s post-pandemic priority is to continue to design and deliver high quality online workshops whilst also creating stronger learning communities. As a result, a variety of posts have been redefined and new roles have been created. 

A significant change in Bauer Academy’s approach is the introduction of the Community Connector Programme. Beyond training activities, all Bauer Academy learners will have opportunities to gain extra professional skills and explore new areas of personal development. With monthly workshops, competitions, and collaborative tasks, this virtual space is where curiosity is encouraged, and great connections happen. To coordinate this programme, a new community co-ordinator post was introduced in March 2022.

To monitor the impact of continued remote learning, new roles, and community enrichment activities, additional Learner Focus Groups are being held throughout 2022.  

Conclusion

Bauer Academy was originally launched to better meet the needs of learners and employers by challenging the status quo in education. Post pandemic, best practice in teaching and learning is quickly evolving, and Bauer Academy is adapting to exceed expectations. 

Data shows the Bauer Academy’s response to the pandemic was highly effective, with an increase in learner number, high completion rates, and excellent learner feedback.  Research carried out during this period has generated insight that informs future strategy, ensuring each learner reaches their full potential in an ever-changing world. 

For additional information on this research project contact learn@bauermedia.co.uk

Courtnay McLeod, Director of Bauer Academy