In 2020, over 10% of UK citizens aged 16 - 25 lost their job. For the young people that managed to find another job in the middle of lockdown, that new position was more likely to be temporary or insecure.
As Scott Hatfield from online learning provider Avado puts it, the pandemic sparked a massive need to “help young people in UK with the lack of opportunities they were facing.”
So Avado’s FastFutures was born. Sponsored by some of the UK’s biggest enterprises, FastFutures’ goal to increase employability in young people aged 18-24 by preparing them for an increasingly digital workplace. Part of that preparation means building digital collaboration skills. “After all”, says Scott, who is Head of Product on FastFutures, “there aren’t many jobs where you can just sit by yourself and not have to talk to anybody. Working on a solution together is an essential skill within the workplace.”
However, Avado’s previous learning tech stack made group work and social learning almost impossible to scale. With cohorts of over 1,000 learners (the largest cohorts across any of Avado’s programs), and multiple cohorts per year, the team faced increasing operational overheads, repetitive manual work, and a clunky user experience.
With only three Avado team members working on the delivery of FastFutures, scaling the program wasn’t going to be easy, they realized.
Social learning and group work are a key part of what Avado does, explains Scott. But the organisation had always struggled to manage the logistics of social learning online. The large cohorts involved in FastFutures meant that the team needed a new way to deliver the program.
Scott again: “Previously we were using our own learning platform, which we’d customized and developed on top of Moodle. We actually paid for a custom plugin to help us manage the peer review process in Moodle. But it didn't work very well — it was clunky and took a lot of effort to deliver. And we needed large operational teams to deliver these programs.”
On top of the capability gaps in the tool-stack, the FastFutures team faced challenges around:
- Lack of of visibility into the connected learning journey
- A confusing user experience, as learners hopped between tools to get their work done
- Re-using content between courses, meaning they had to rebuild courses from scratch sometimes
Both Scott and Evie Walter, FastFutures’ Senior Learning Experience Coordinator, knew they needed an alternative if the program was going to make a meaningful impact on young people’s employability.
The breakthrough came when they integrated a white-labelled version of Eduflow into the FastFutures courses. “Our initial reaction looking at Eduflow was like, ‘it’s almost like you’ve developed this specifically for our needs’”, laughs Scott. “And obviously, your UX is very slick.”
Evie explains the powerful social experience they’re now able to provide learners: “Group work is encouraged throughout the program and Eduflow supports that. We use discussion forum activities at the start of the program and the start of each module for learners, to encourage connection and networking with others on the program.”
Collaboration Without Friction
Working with Eduflow allowed Evie and Scott to build in more formal collaboration activities to practice solving business challenges as a group. “Midway through the program there’s a group project in which learners pitch a response to an industry problem faced by the program’s corporate sponsors. They work on that group project and come up with a pitch and record that proposal together.”
All that is possible while maintaining a friction-free user experience. “We’re not continually asking users to hop in and out of the platform anymore. It keeps the user experience really streamlined,” notes Evie.
Operationally, things are more streamlined as well, points out Scott. “In our last cohort of FastFutures the group work stage was so much easier to manage! The way that we were doing things prior to Eduflow was just so manual and so operationally heavy. Eduflow really helps us manage the process, from creating the groups, setting the context, submitting the work and marking it, right through to flowing information back to learners. And it all happens in-platform, with a peer review at the end… It has definitely made us more efficient.”
Avado are now planning to recruit over 1,500 young people for their next cohort. But that doesn’t mean they’ll need to increase their operational overheads. Thanks to the investment made in their tech stack, they plan to keep their small-but-mighty delivery team to just three people. “Eduflow is a key part of that”, says Scott.
This new-found operational efficiency opens up new possibilities for Avado and FastFutures. As Scott says, “We've always had this ethos of group work and collaboration, but we've never really had the technology to facilitate it until now. Being more operationally efficient opens up possibilities for us as an organization. We can really go hard on the collaboration and group work and not worry that we're going to need huge teams of people to manage it.