Colleges Week 2020 – Activate Learning at the centre of innovation and designing the future

As we mark Love Our College week here at Activate Learning we wanted to reflect on the work that we are doing around innovation in teaching and learning.

Over the past year we have rolled out our Activate Learning Online (ALO) virtual learning platform.

This customised online learning environment allows us to cater content based on our students’ needs and deliver teaching and learning remotely – something that has been invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic as schools and colleges were forced to close to all but the most vulnerable learners.

In the past year our ability to deliver teaching and learning via our ALO platform has gone from strength to strength and as we responded to the global COVID-19 pandemic, it allowed us to switch from on campus to online delivery within a matter of weeks.

The result of this was that within the first week alone across our group of seven colleges there were:

  • 1,770 ‘assignments’ were set for students through ALO
  • 1,371 live conferences took place for students
  • 7,100 ‘unique learners’ participated in the ALO learning and conferencing platform
  • 40,905 individual enrolments to online conferencing sessions occurred

Over the four months where the ALO platform became the main platform for our delivery of teaching and learning we had over six million page views, resulting in:

  • 17,000 ‘assignments’ were set for students through ALO
  • 12,000 live conferences took place for students
  • 7,100 ‘unique learners’ participated in the ALO learning and conferencing platform
  • 365,000 individual enrolments to online conferencing sessions occurred

During the lockdown period, between March and June this year, we delivered 12,000 online lessons alone, of which approximately 20% were recorded for future use. On top of this we have developed hundreds of pieces of additional learning content to supplement our learners teaching and learning.

Since the start of the new academic year, there are now 10,000 learners accessing our ALO platform across our FE, HE and adult learning provisions.

Activate Learning is committed to using technology to improve our learners’ experience and will constantly seek to innovate and improve how we deliver this.

Love Our College Week gives us a chance to reflect on all the amazing work that’s taken place over what has been an unprecedented year!

£65,000 learning environment renovation boosts digital learning at Banbury and Bicester College

Banbury and Bicester College’s Learning Environment was reinvigorated earlier this year after a £65,000 refurbishment.

The new space, which provides library services to the college, was completely renovated with bespoke fitted book shelving, new seating and furniture, collaboration booths and tables.

This included 47 computer workstations, an increase from 36, in which staff can book for use with their classes or students can use for independent and group study.

There is now a dedicated space for students and staff to experiment with technology enhanced learning (TEL), such as VR, 3D printing and drones, which will be aided and guided by Activate Learning staff from Digital Education Services.


Banbury and Bicester College computing student became viral sensation with Wash Your Lyrics website

A Banbury and Bicester College computing student became an overnight sensation in March 2019 after his Wash Your Lyrics website went viral worldwide.

William Gibson created the website in less than a day in a bid to encourage more people to wash their hands amid growing nationwide healthcare concerns.

The website automates a handwashing infographic alongside song lyrics. This is based on inputting a chosen artist and song title within the generator tool.  William Gibson,

Activate Learning launch new student IT support helpline at all colleges

In April 2020, Activate Learning launched a dedicated student IT support helpline. This helped all students get direct access to IT support and ensured their online learning was supported.

Media make-up students trick facial recognition software with make-up artistry

In October 2019, City of Oxford College students worked alongside makeup artists from Charlotte Tilbury in an attempt to manipulate face detection technology.

As part of the Oxford IF Science and Ideas Festival, students created two different theatrical makeup looks.

Two students sat as models for the interactive Making Faces event held at John Lewis’s Place to Eat in the Westgate shopping centre.

Activate Cycle Academy offers mechanic training at Activate Learning

Earlier this year, Activate Cycle Academy has opened a brand-new workshop at Merrist Wood College in Worplesdon.  Delivering Cytech courses, Activate Cycle Academy’s facility will initially be utilised by staff in the bicycle trade as well as people looking to retrain and join the cycle trade, and will deliver cycle maintenance training to people from across the South of England. Cytech Home Mechanic courses for cycling enthusiasts are also available.

Activate Cycle Academy’s headquarters are situated at our City of Oxford College, Technology campus in Blackbird Leys, where they have a state-of-the-art cycles training workshop. Activate Cycle Academy now has three strategically positioned and highly acclaimed training centres running the spine of the country in Oxford, Stafford and Guildford, offering the most comprehensive range of cycle maintenance training courses across the UK.

Our Care Skills Training Centres and work with the NHS

Across Guildford, Oxford and Reading campuses, Activate Learning Care Skills Training Centres offer hospital wards, fully-equipped home care rooms, emergency care centres, and fully immersive, 3D, VR learning spaces, all using state of the art IT monitoring and diagnostic equipment, to provide acute clinical and residential care facilities for simulated teaching and learning.

These state-of-the-art facilities mirror a real-life hospital ward and care home, giving students an enhanced learning experience, which is tailored to their educational and training needs, preparing them for work in the healthcare sector.

As well as using the facilities for inhouse learning programmes, Activate Learning also help its local communities to meet the training and development needs of local health care organisations, schools and colleges.

In addition to this, Activate Learning run industry placements within the NHS with five different trusts. This allows Level 3 health and social Care students to spend two days per week over the second year of their course within a hospital placement. These placements included working within A&E, theatres, outpatients, rheumatology and cancer care departments.


Adapting quickly to virtual Open Events online

Activate Learning adapted to the pandemic by taking our June and October Open Events online and hosted Virtual Open Events via the Activate Learning and Microsoft Teams for each of our colleges. Attendees could watch presentations about Activate Learning and enjoy subject-specific talks. Prospective students could speak with our industry-trained faculty staff and ask any questions that they had during our live Q&A sessions.

At each of the virtual open events, attendees could find out more about all our courses and programmes, discover more about each college from our Head of Campus – Student Experience, get their application in, find the right course for them with our friendly teachers and Student Support team, view our facilities via 360-degree campus tours, videos and photos, find out how Activate Learning support all of our learners to reach their full potential and gain a better understanding of qualifications with our Careers team.

Small tuition group catch up sessions

Activate Learning has started running small tuition groups (of no more than five students) for any students who need extra support to get them up-to-speed so that they can progress with their studies.

The support is being provided in three ways which consists of support for English and maths, subject specialism catch-up support, and study skills support.

Learn more about small tuition group catch up sessions at Activate Learning.