"Kaplan Live Online Employer Meeting"
Meeting Kaplan Live Online Employer meeting Date 5 October 2011 Venue Kaplan Glasgow Present Steve Freer CIPFA (Chair) Adrian Pulham CIPFA Eileen Cummins CIPFA Jeremy Bodey Head of Kaplan Live Online Via Webex Heather Gough Kaplan Live Online tutor Sarah McHenry Head of Kaplan Glasgow Employers Ronnie Irkskine Vice Chair, CIPFA Scottish Branch Robin Baker East Ayrshire Council Kirsty Stanners Glasgow City Council Gillian Houston Chair, CIPFA Scottish Branch Fiona Naylor Renfrewshire Council Anne McLure South Lanarkshire Council George Manzies Dundee City Council Pamela Bell West Lothian Council Elizabeth McCue Fife Council Rachel Garnett Audit Scotland Fiona Mitchell Knight Audit Scotland Alan Keatinge Edinburgh City Council Susan Jobbins Scott Moncrieff Via Webex Alison Burns Via Webex 1.1 Steve Freer welcomed everyone to the meeting and asked those present to introduce themselves. Steve also introduced those colleagues that were attending the meeting via Webex. Steve asked Sarah and Heather from Kaplan to describe their roles. Sarah McHenry, Head of Kaplan Glasgow advised that as a CIPFA member she was involved in setting up the CIPFA tuition and following the completion of the Spring Summer 2011 cycle this has been handed over to the Kaplan Live Online team. Heather Gough is a Kaplan Live online tutor and is working with Lindsay Hoyle, account a manager for CIPFA and a Kaplan Live Online tutor. 1.2 Steve drew everyone’s attention to the agenda but advised that issues could be raised at any time. Items 2 and 3 are looking back and forward in terms of provision and Steve invited employer’s views on the Spring/Summer 2011 cycle. 1.3 Robin Baker advised that his students had settled into the new approach of tuition fairly well and the process was not too onerous. There were some IT issues but these were described as not being a show-stopper and the overall experience has been positive although some elements e.g. timetabling need improving. 1.4 Alan Keating raised some issues with the Chat Panel advising that it was a distraction and it was not suited to asking more complex questions. Heather gave a brief background to Webex and the Chat Panel advising that it was introduced in December 2009 to support other accountancy qualifications and that feedback from CIPFA students and employers has not mirrored the experiences of other accountancy students. Heather provided a demonstration of the Chat Panel and showed how it can be minimised by the student if they prefer. The information is recorded and can be accessed at any time during the course. The students are encouraged to adopt a flexible approach and use the Chat Panel as they prefer. Heather commented that the Chat Panel is not used as much by CIPFA students as other accountancy qualification students but in the second cycle it is being used more by CIPFA students as they become more comfortable with this approach. Sarah McHenry advised that she taught ADM in the first cycle and advised how she saw the use of the Chat Panel increase during the course. Heather also advised that she liked to encourage a balance between useful and ‘non-useful’ chat. This is to try and create a ‘peer group’ and sometimes some general chat about how students are finding things etc helps the group to bond and mimics the physical classroom. Tutors are trained to manage this appropriately to ensure the right balance is achieved. The tutor can see the Chat Panel and can address any issues that are being raised during the lesson or can agree to discuss them during a break. ACTION: Kaplan to address the flexible use of the Chat Panel in the Live Online induction. 1.5 Employers were reminded of the Live Online CIPFA Community which is available for all students to use, ask questions and share experiences. This is monitored by Live Online tutors who can address any specific issues. Similarly with the Chat Panel, the uptake of the Live Online Community has been slower by CIPFA students when compared to other accountancy qualification students but this increasing in the second cycle. It was agreed that the Live Online Community offers a flexibility that the classroom cannot as the tutor is available to answer questions even after the class has finished. 1.6 George Manzies advised that feedback was variable. Whilst the move to Kaplan Live Online was a big change any teething problems had been addressed quickly and professionally, and it was felt that some subjects lend themselves to the Live Online environment but not others. George enquired about the first cycle examination results. 1.7 A document detailing the Kaplan Live Online pass rates was distributed. Employers asked for a comparison with CETC pass rates and Adrian advised that in some subjects Kaplan Live Online pass rates had exceeded the CETC and national pass rates and vice versa. 1.8 Fiona Mitchell Knight advised that Audit Scotland students had struggled with the transition in particular the lack of the classroom interaction for some subjects. Their response has been to set up internal groups to support students in this aspect. Glasgow City Council advised that they have agreed to send all of their students to CETC revision courses which they may not have done had students attended CETC main courses as they had done previously. 1.9 The discussion then moved to whether the Live Online environment was suitable for all subjects, Leadership and Management was offered as an example and it was felt that attending this course offered no advantage over reading the learning materials. Another example was Financial and Performance Reporting because of its technical nature. Heather advised that she has taught Financial Reporting for 10 years with 8 years in the classroom and 2 year using Live Online and she felt that the more technical subjects lend themselves to the Live Online environment in that, they are delivered in almost an identical manner to a physical classroom. With the less technical discursive subjects, tutors encourage students to use the Chat Panel and this does require students to be flexible and adapt to a different learning style. CIPFA students found this transition quite challenging in the first cycle, but in the autumn courses, the courses seem to be running more smoothly as students gain more confidence and feel more comfortable with the learning medium. Kaplan’s examination results (pass-rates) across other qualifications have shown that results mirror classroom results across all different types of papers whether technical or discursive papers and as such the Kaplan Live Online team is confident this methodology works across all disciplines. 1.10 The issue of whether the courses had been condensed was also raised. Sarah advised that when Kaplan was deciding upon the course length for CIPFA subjects, this was derived by mapping the CIPFA syllabus against similar subjects in other accountancy qualifications with some time added on to allow for the transition. Following the completion of the first cycle, Kaplan held a tutor focus group to collate feedback regarding course lengths and consequently, there are no plans to reduce the course lengths that have been set during the first cycle. Alan shared the flexible way in which Edinburgh CC students were using the recorded sessions to underpin the learning from the live session in that they pause the recorded sessions to apply the skills and techniques before continuing with the session. 1.11 The timetabling of courses was also raised. It was agreed that there was no pattern to the course timetables and employers asked for an element of routine. ACTION: Kaplan Live Online to rework the timetable for Spring/Summer 2012 cycle to bring an element of routine to the courses and to avoid the scheduling of concurrent lectures. 1.12 A number of issues were raised in relation to progress tests and mock examinations: Employers felt that the window for completing the progress tests and mocks examinations was too long and that feedback to students was to slow Quality of marking was an issue Some students are not undertaking mock examinations under proper exam conditions 1.13 Kaplan tutors stress the importance of undertaking mock examinations and that Kaplan Live Online are using the same mock exams as CETC. With regards to the quality control process for marking, Kaplan explained that a sample of scripts are test marked (as with live exams) to ensure the correct and consistent application of the marking scheme. ACTION: In response to the issues raised Heather advised that Kaplan would: Consider reducing the window available for students completing the progress tests and mock examinations Communicate with students that progress tests and mock exams are not sent for marking until the window available has closed and when to expect feedback Offer Kaplan Glasgow premises for students to undertake mock exams (It was recognised that not all students will be able to take advantage of this offer). 1.14 Employers asked for more information with regards to Kaplan Live Online offering the Finance and Management Case Study for the first time in Autumn/winter 2011 cycle. Adrian and Kaplan advised that Kaplan Live Online are using the same teaching and learning materials as CETC tutors. In addition to this the tutors and markers are all CIPFA members and are involved in the live FMCS examination process. Kaplan Live Online students attended a FMCS induction day at the beginning of the course. Employers queried the number of mock examinations which was originally set at 4 exams. Kaplan advised that they will set and mark additional mock cases at an additional cost of £50 per script*. Employers were conscious that CETC students achieve a high pass rate in the FMCS exam e.g. 90% in June 2011; Kaplan advised that they achieve a 90% pass rate for strategy papers within other accountancy qualifications and that they are confident in the Webex technology and believe they are delivering a learning solution that is academically sound. *Post meeting note For clarification CETC FMCS main course includes 6 mock examinations. Feedback from 3 of the exams is provided in a small tutorial group with an element of 1-1 time and feedback for the other 3 mock exams is provided in written form. ACTION: For the Spring/Summer 2012 cycle Kaplan has agreed to consider incorporating the marking of 6 mock exams into the overall fee structure. 1.15 Steve advised that all of the points being made by employers would be captured in the notes and that the Kaplan Live Online team would be able to reflect and offer solutions. Steve then asked Adrian to advise the meeting of the review of Kaplan tuition that CIPFA is undertaking. 1.16 Adrian advised that CIPFA’s Members and Students Development Board (MSDB) had agreed prior to Kaplan coming on board that a review of the first cycle of tuition would be undertaken. Julia Attridge, Assistant Director Education and Membership is undertaking the review which consists of 2 student and employer surveys; one which was undertaken during the first cycle and one survey since it had been completed. Feedback from the Scottish Branch, student societies and individuals was also being fed into the review. A meeting is planned with the Kaplan Live Online team on 7 October. MSDB is meeting on 20 October when it will consider the outcomes of the review. 1.17 Alan Keating raised an issue of the visual aspects of Webex i.e. the online platform and suggested that students could not see everything that was being written down by the tutor. Heather advised that to investigate further she would need more specific details so she could access the actual session. As this information wasn’t available, Heather provided a demonstration of the online platform and showed employers what students could see during a live and recorded session and confirmed that there should not be any issues with being able to see everything the tutor writes. 1.18 Adrian took this opportunity to read out extracts of a statement from Elaine Lawther, Head of Finance Training & Support Unit, NHS Education for Scotland, which are shown below One of the key advantages I was anticipating from a move to CIPFA online learning was the opportunity to encourage more students, especially those from non central belt students to consider CIPFA as an option. In 2011, this has indeed led to increased registrations from students who would not have chosen CIPFA if this online option had not been available. With regards to my 4 existing students, three studied with Kaplan and my final stage student completed her studies with CETC. The three Kaplan students were all very anxious about this move however their exam results were in line with expectations and indeed, my Aberdeen student could not be more thankful for the fact that she did not need to travel to Edinburgh for her studies , As an employer, the cost and time savings are considerable. Similarly, access to CIPFA for remote and rural students, and those for whom traditional classroom teaching is not helpful, e.g. return to learning individuals with family and other commitments is vitally important. Our experience in the NHS is that without a broadening of training opportunities, we face a slow drift away from CIPFA and a complete takeover by the other institutes There is a balance to be struck. I think there remain gaps in the learning environment that need to be addressed but I personally feel that this should be something that is dealt with collaboratively by CIPFA, Kaplan, employers and the Students Society. The introduction of a face to face induction, for example, would be warmly welcomed but we can do more. The status quo was not an option and we need to move forward positively and constructively. There will be anxiety from some students to this learning style but I have been delighted at the response of my two new CIPFA students who have been introduced to this model recently. We got them to visit the Kaplan office who then arranged an hour long online induction. The students loved it and are raring to go. This is the future and we need to look forward to a stronger CIPFA in Scotland. 1.19 Steve asked for clarification regarding the induction visit to Kaplan Glasgow Elaine referred to in her statement. Sarah advised that an induction visit can be offered upon request. Adrian asked that Kaplan look at CIPFA Scotland differently in this respect and offered CIPFA’s help in this matter. Kaplan advised that they would prefer to deliver Inductions through Live Online, so as to introduce students to the method and let them see it in a ‘relaxed’ environment where they can play with system and get a feel for how it works. Offering face to face inductions is possible, and can be provided on request, but Kaplan would prefer to be consistent with how courses are delivered. Kaplan has delivered Live Online inductions this sitting and has had really positive feedback from both students and employers. 1.20 In response to employer concerns regarding the length of time allowed for feedback, Kaplan advised that an error had occurred in the end of first cycle course survey and agreed to lengthen the time available for responses for future surveys. 1.21 Kirsty agreed that students need to take personal responsibility and take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to them. Gillian, from the Scottish Branch, agreed that there needs to be more discipline for exams, more support for progress tests and mock exams and general discipline. 1.22 Kirsty advised that Glasgow CC had invited Clyde Valley employers and their students to support events in the first cycle course but because other students and employers were responding positively to the tuition changes they choose not to attend and they were attended by to the Glasgow students only. The Student Society had also hoped to set up study groups but the students did not seem to want to attend if the events were being held in their own time. 1.23 Fiona commented that where CETC had previously co-ordinated networking events it was now up the employers to do this. Sarah suggested that Kaplan Glasgow could facilitate networking opportunities amongst CIPFA students. This was welcomed by employers and Alan suggested an IPDS workshop similar to the one that Faisal Khan recently delivered to Edinburgh CC students. 1.24 George advised the meeting that Dundee CC was attracted to Kaplan Live Online tuition because it did not require students to be out of the office at key times and did not wish to undo this approach to learning. He reminded the meeting that the issue being discussed at the meeting were for transitional students and he didn’t want to see the time saved by studying with Kaplan Live Online being eroded by other sessions. Steve agreed that there is a balance to be struck. 1.25 The meeting received some feedback from one of the employers that had dialled in. Alison said that her Diploma students were positive about the changes and asked that mocks exams that were submitted by post were returned by post as the quality of the scanned feedback was questionable. Kaplan agreed to undertake this on request 1.26 Adrian advised the meeting that the new PQ 2012 syllabus was about to be launched and that students and employers had been advised of the transitional arrangements. He offered his apologies for not being available to attend the next meeting of the CIPFA Scottish Branch in October but advised that Julia Attridge would be attending and as she is leading the Kaplan first cycle review and the syllabus review she will be able to answer any questions the Branch may have. 1.27 Eileen advised the meeting that the December 2011 exams are being held in 2 centres; Kaplan Glasgow and CIPFA Scotland in Edinburgh. The potential national strike being called for 30 November clashes with the FMCS examination and, so as to avoid students having to cross a picket line and some exam venues being inaccessible to CIPFA, she advised that all exam venues had been booked for Tuesday 29 November in case CIPFA needed to bring the exam forward. A meeting with the Chair of the Examination Panel is arranged for the following week before a decision could be made. 1.28 Employers asked about potential disruption to students due to bad weather. Eileen advised the meeting that where bad weather does disrupt the exams, then students will be able to sit examinations in their workplace. An Employer Examination Pack is being developed which will advise the employers of their obligations in supporting students sitting their examination in their workplace e.g. invigilation requirements. An arrangement for putting this process into action will also be advised. If a student does need to sit their exam in the workplace then the examination will be made emailed to the nominated member of staff on the day of the exam. All other examination arrangements must be maintained e.g. start times. 1.29 Any Other Business Ronnie advised the meeting that a Skills for Success workshop was being offered by the Scottish Branch and full details are available on the CIPFA website. Steve suggested that Kaplan Live Online needs to create stronger communications with employers An action plan would be drawn out of the notes of the meeting which employers’ observed would form the platform for the next meeting Fiona advised there some was confusion about who to contact and Steve agreed that the notes and Action Plan would include this information. 1.30 Date of next meeting Adrian advised the meeting that Kaplan Live Online were committed to 2 employer meetings each year and the employers asked that the next meeting is arranged for February after the December examination results have been released on Friday 27 January 2012. 1.31 Steve summarised the new arrangements with Kaplan tuition as a journey, the Kaplan Live Online provision is potentially a very good product which will be realised when the issues identified at this meeting have been resolved. 1.32 Ann asked Adrian about student registrations in 2011. Adrian advised that it is a challenging time and that as all employers know training budgets are under pressure which is presenting itself in the challenge to the Certificate level intake. December 2011 examination entry remains healthy and a recent incentive campaign has seen a positive reaction from the market. __