Change, a permanent ally
9 Dec 2020

Taking on the challenges of Covid-19 head-on by embracing digital in careers education with Mapper

Michaela Eschbach

By Michaela Eschbach - Managing Director Founders4Schools.

Founders4Schools is facing the challenges of Covid-19 head-on by embracing digital with Mapper, a ground-breaking online course to equip educators with the digital tools they need to deliver careers education to young people.

As Heraclitus would have it, “There is nothing permanent except change.” The last six months of all our lives have been characterised by rapid societal, industrial, political and personal changes. From the crucial discussions around the Black Lives Matter movement to the interrogation of our lives forced upon us by lockdowns. And, at home, massive shifts in our routines and expectations of what work is and how it fits into our lives. Additionally, the behavioral shift that Coronavirus has caused us all to confront. Masks, screens, social-distancing, testing; all new features of our daily lives. This pace, and breadth, of upheaval and the seemingly fickle nature of progress back towards ‘how things were’ has been unsettling to say the least, but there have also been some positives to be distilled from the melee and I think that our attitudes towards the process, and purpose, of education top that list.

Schools’ UK wide suddenly found themselves engaged in the express digitisation of whole curriculums from the EYFS classes right up to A-Level. As a society we had never considered whether we could, let alone whether we should, do this and educators up and down the country are to be applauded for their agility and resilience in meeting this challenge. A challenge not without its pitfalls, but one that has proved beyond doubt that we are able to now look at our approach to the delivery of education in a truly hybriod way.

At Founders4Schools we have been an integral part of the EdTech landscape for almost a decade pioneering an online solution to connecting schools with businesses and, just last year, spinning out an app based solution that connects students to meaningful work experience with some of the fastest growing business in the UK; Workfinder. Truthfully the Coronavirus pandemic has, despite its challenges, given us opportunities to use our digital skills to support the educators and schools we support more than ever, and we now have a new string to our bow.

Back in June we chose to bring forward a pilot of our online course Mapper. We have joined forces with the leading social learning platform FutureLearn to create Mapper, a ground-breaking online course to equip educators with the digital tools they need to deliver careers education to young people. Mapper is a free teacher CPD certified course that highlights the work and services of a coalition of expert partners: Workfinder, Apps for Good, Worldskills UK, LifeSkills created with Barclays, The Skills Builder Partnership, Start, UCL, The Creative Industries Federation and The Centre For Education and Youth, painting a comprehensive picture of digital careers tools available for educators to use.

We had originally planned to launch Mapper this Autumn, but reflecting on the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, especially in the careers education sector, we felt that it was the right thing to do to make the course available to educators at an earlier stage. Almost 2,000 learners, world-wide, joined us for the pilot and their feedback and insights have been absolutely vital, especially as we have sought to future proof the final run of the course in a much changed world. We reviewed the pilot over August and September and it made the course even better, and the pilot already had 85% positive feedback from our learners! We’ve strengthened the opportunities for self-reflection, accounted for some of the shifts demanded by the coronavirus outbreak, built-in many more voices from industry and included new perspectives on Careers Education from practitioners in Scotland. Mapper is now open for enrolment on FutureLearn.com. I’d encourage you to get involved and to share this opportunity with educators that you know.

And I’m encouraging you to do this because though I believe change to be an ally of excellence. I’m also very clear that we need to be prepared to harness it, and we need the tools to do so. Over the course of the Spring and Summer there have been regular, and hugely insightful, publications from The Sutton Trust, The Education Endowment Foundation and Nesta, amongst others, on the effect that the Coronavirus pandemic has had on the world of work, young people and their career prospects. The key theme of all of these has been that the pace of change is startlingly and that it’s having an enormous negative impact on the social mobility and career prospects of young people. Disruption demands a response, and in this instance, a significant shift in attitudes to social mobility is an incredibly positive by-product. There is a lot to be done, demolition is always a swifter process than construction, but perhaps we have an opportunity to build something better. I believe that a course like Mapper, a ground-breaking online course to equip educators with the digital tools they need to deliver careers education to young people, is a part of this process of renewal. Take a look and enrol today.

www.futurelearn.com/courses/mapper