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The 426 systems testing course is irrelevant to my job role
For learners on the Software Development Level 4 apprenticeship framework this is a City & Guilds requirement to achieve the apprenticeship. We have recently transitioned to apprenticeship standards and this course only features for Software Testers on our new programmes.
The courses should be available for download after attendance
All of our courses are available for a minimum of 6 months after they have ran; these can be accessed via a link.
Visual Basic is outdated and not widely used in the development industry
For learners on the Software Development Level 3 apprenticeship framework this is a City & Guilds requirement to achieve the apprenticeship. We have recently transitioned to apprenticeship standards and this course only features for Software Testers on our new programmes. This course is no longer being delivered on our new programmes.
The web development apprenticeship should have more web units
On our software and web development programme we have included both web development units that are available by the awarding body.
The CIW materials need to be updated
Following feedback from us and a very conducive meeting between Baltic and CIW they have committed to reviewing the curriculum and exams in January 2018.
More information needs to be on management within the ITIL course as there were questions on this in the mock exam
The mock exam, actual exam and ITIL foundation course is centered around Service Management and not management as a position of seniority in business. The course focuses on Service Management in IT in regards to creating, implementing and following business processes
Provide learners with a pass, merit or distinction grade on all assignments
It is our awarding body who set the grades for assignments and across all of our programmes that require assignments we have a mix of either pass, merit and distinction or just pass and fail.
Make the HCI course more practical
Where possible we add practical activities to our courses, however these need to be of value and merit to the subject being taught and we will not add a practical activity if it is not relevant. For this course, in particular, it is a theory driven course looking into the principles of Human Computer Interaction. We have added practical activities where the course allows but our main priority has to be ensuring learners are provided with training that allows them to access and pass the assignment for completion of the apprenticeship.
The competency questions for the 402 course are misleading
These questions have been set by the awarding body and we must adhere to their specific wording. There is, however, guidance available from the course trainer when answering these questions.
The CIW course needs more practical elements and the slides need to be more visually pleasing
As this is a course on a new apprenticeship standard it is geared towards preparing you to pass the exam, as this is a theory exam the course needs to delivered as such and practical elements on this course aren’t required and wouldn’t help with passing the exam. In relation to the slides, these are supplied by CIW as it is an official CIW course and we cannot make changes to them.
The A+ Part 2 course focuses on the outcomes of the CompTIA exam rather than the City & Guilds exam
The A+ part 2 course has been developed so the outcomes of both the CompTIA and City & Guilds exams have been met; there is a lot of crossover in both exam outcomes, but we have developed the course ensuring all outcomes have been met. We have done the same with A+ part 1 and it’s corresponding City & Guilds exam also.
The City & Guilds Cloud Services exam questions are very difficult.
We have no control over the exam questions as these are created by City & Guilds, we have however produced some mock exams and a study guide which will be useful when preparing for this exam, we will also feedback to City & Guilds the thoughts of our learners.
The 417 IT Management course is “Death by PowerPoint”
This course is a theory based course and requires a lot of delivery via presentations from the trainer. We have, where possible, added practical activities such as reviewing policies and procedures, creating documentation for use within a business and report writing. Where possible we do include interactive labs in our courses, however, this course does not lend itself to these labs and we have had to use other activities to make some dry subjects more interesting and engaging.
The ITIL course needs to be more practical
The ITIL course is a theory based course on business processes and the aim of the course is to prepare learners to pass the associated exam, to this end the course needs to be theory driven with mock tests and exams to provide the correct skills and knowledge to help pass the exam.
The 355 assignment should be completed over the week of training rather than on the last day and more web languages should be covered
The assignment is completed at the end of the week in order for you to gain the required skills and knowledge Monday – Thursday to be able to complete the assignment adequately on the Friday; we have some courses where assignments are completed across the week if the format of the assignment and course delivery allows. This is done on each course’s own merits. With regards to more languages being covered we need to ensure that the outcomes of the assignment are met and the course is accessible to all delegates; if we concentrated on specific web languages as suggested he course wouldn’t be as accessible.
The PowerPoint slides don’t relate directly to the assignment for Level 3 SQL
The PowerPoint slides aren’t designed to relate to the assignment, they are designed to provide you with underpinning knowledge and understanding along with the skills within the practice exercises to pass the assignment.
The Network Fundamentals MTA course needs updating
This is a course that was launched in May of this year and contains the most up to date official Microsoft Courseware content; in addition this is designed to help learners pass the most recent version of the associated MTA exam
The Digital Marketing 401/402 should have been shorter and better headsets need to be supplied to learners
This is a relatively new course and we must ensure that we are providing enough time for all of the outcomes to be trained and achieved. If we continue to receive feedback of this nature we will look at the possibility of reducing this course duration
The 409 database course focuses too much on front end not back end
We have to teach where possible to the learning outcomes set by City & Guilds in order to allow learners to pass their assignment for the unit; if the learning outcomes set by City & Guilds focus on front end then we must do so in our training.
Separate classes based upon abilities for the 030 and have less learners on course
We promote having mixed abilities on our courses as this aids in improving people of all abilities and gives the opportunity to learners who may require more development to develop in an environment where they can learn from their peers as well as course trainers. With regards to class sizes we set this based upon trainer experience and deliver to classes of up to 12 or up to 14 for more senior training staff.
More real life examples required in the 426 Software Testing course
This one of the first deliveries of this particular course and we have made amendments to it following the feedback; we will continue to review course feedback and make revisions to the course as and when necessary.
Improve communication so that upcoming events are consistently communicated
We have a very robust system that is governed by an internal SLA whereby all departments that are customer facing follow the same communication processes. They are all required to provide accurate programme information at designated points throughout the apprenticeship regardless of who the Coordinator or Assessor is and which programme they are enrolled upon.
Remove the personal development aspects of the apprenticeship and streamline paperwork in relation to this
The personal development aspects are the very essence of what an apprenticeship is and stands for – developing skills to improve personal performance both at work in life. This is an extremely important part of the apprenticeship and it is also mandatory.
The paperwork that is completed as part of this is also mandatory and needs to be completed and logged in a particular way as the documents are used for differing purposes.
More mic interaction from learners on 413/420
Our trainers consistently encourage mic participation and this is monitored in various ways. Our internal Teaching & Learning Specialist observed our trainers and he has a benchmark that 30% of participation should be via mic. Since we implemented this in May 2017 we have seen a dramatic increase in mic use by our learners. In addition we are asking every learner in our end of course survey if mic participation was encouraged and if it actually happened.
Provide more in-depth content on back end database design and use an alternative programme to LibreOffice on the 409 course
Course learning outcomes are dictated to us by the Awarding Body and we need to deliver to these so that we ensure learners achieve the best grade possible on assignment to help towards the completion of their apprenticeship. With this in mind we cannot deliver in-depth content if it doesn’t form part of the learning outcomes on the course.
LibreOffice is used as an example by the trainer as it is free and accessible to all learners on the course; it is not a requirement to use this. Learners are encouraged to use software they are familiar with and will give them the best chance of passing the assignment.
Segregate Software and Hardware learners on the 030 course
We believe in learner integration where possible and as this is a customer focused course based around service and soft skills it is appropriate for both hardware and software learners to attend together.
The 044 wed development course needs to be updated
Our full Software and Software & Web programme will be under review later this year and a decision on what will be updated and when will come from this review. Once we are fully aware of what will change within the programmes we will communicate this on our website.
Have a grading system for assignments to challenge learners to better themselves
All course grading criteria and grades awarded are governed by our Awarding Bodies and this is something we must adhere to. Where there are different grades available within in an assignment this is communicated on each course and the grades available are: Pass, Credit or Distinction. Any courses that involve official vendor training such as CompTIA and Microsoft courses are a pass only and our Social Media and Digital Marketing framework programmes are a pass only.
Do not outsource training
As a training provider who prides themselves on having a 97% course run rate over the past 18 months there are occasions where it has been necessary to use a contract trainer to maintain this excellent record; the recent 421 course was one of these. Following feedback from our learners as of w/c 21/08/2017 we will not be using any contract trainers to deliver the 421 course in future.
The 502 lab guide is complicated to follow and not easy to understand
We have reviewed the guide and had a Senior Trainer do the same; due to the technical nature of the lab and the systems used within the lab the language and instructions are appropriate to the task(s) within the assignment.
The Network+ course needs to be updated
We review our course content on a regular basis and with the introduction of the new apprenticeship standards we no longer offer Network+ as part of our level 3 apprenticeship, this has been updated and oved in to our level 4 Network Engineer apprenticeship standard.
Academic Year 2016/17
Q. Why as a Software Development Apprentice do I need to complete a Customer Support module?
City & Guilds (our awarding body) and The Tech Partnership (our Sector Skills Council) stipulate that this a mandatory unit that all IT apprentices must complete; a value that is shared by Baltic Training. Customer Support skills are transferable and at some point in your career you will come in to contact with customers (internal and/or external) who require help or guidance.
Q. Can we use a different Content Management System other than WordPress?
WordPress is the chosen CMS for our programme as when conducting research to find the right system for us we discovered this is a popular CMS with our customer base (predominantly SME’s) and in the sector as a whole. It’s easy to use and requires little coding which meets the needs of the learning outcomes from City & Guilds which we must adhere to.
Q. Can more coding be added to the CMS course?
All courses are tailored to meet the needs of the programme and City & Guilds learning outcomes; the CMS course is centered around administering and developing a site using a Content Management System, not developing through coding or web languages. As an addition to this point there is the option to customise and use add-ons within the site that is created to allow for small elements of coding to be used.
Q. Why do you cover the OSI Model and Networking Topologies on more than one course?
All courses are tailored to meet the needs of the programme and City & Guilds learning outcomes, if City & Guilds specify topologies and the OSI model are to be covered then we as a responsible training provider need to include it in the each course where it is specified. As these topics are covered across levels 2, 3 & 4 there will be minor repetition, but, greater knowledge and understanding of each topology and layer of the OSI is required at each level.
Q. Why is there a lack of practical activities on the 333 course?
The 333 course does lack practical activities due to the nature of it. The course is around Implementing Security Policies which is heavily theory based and requires report writing, analytical and critical thinking skills and being able to use these skills in conjunction with technical knowledge. Being able to show understanding of a subject matter (especially within security) is as important as being able to use skills in this area. This is one course of either five on a level 3 apprenticeship or six on a level 4 and the other courses do offer much more practical involvement such as A+ and Network+ on the level 3 and Microsoft Server 2012 and ICT Virtualisation on the level 4.
Q. Maybe the units for the Level 3 IT Apprenticeship need to be something like an optional extra due to the fact that it (in my opinion) does not really explore enough IT relevant materials.
We have to adhere to both Awarding Body and Government guidance and they have both stipulated that the units covered in this course are mandatory units and therefore must be completed. The level 4 qualification is aimed at IT managers and future managers; their roles encompass much more than “just IT” such as projects and the management of projects which is the crux of this course.
Q. Some of the questions in the document (For the Software Development Apprenticeship) were hard to follow and were not totally clear. As discussed with other learners on the course we all believe that some practical activities (labs) would be more beneficial where applicable.
We have to word questions specifically as set out by our Awarding Body, but trainers are always happy to explain and translate the questions. With regards to the use of labs, this course is centered around the Systems Development Lifecycle and methodologies; it is very theory based, and has an assignment which assess knowledge and understanding rather than skills; to this end there is little opportunity for practical activities within the course. Our other level courses such as IT Virtualisation, Networking & Server 2012 do have interactive labs and practical activities.
Q.I’d massively suggest teaching an open platform database engine like MySQL or SQLite. Continuing to teach students Microsoft technologies is continuing to fuel their monopoly. Also in reality, the open platforms like MySQL are more popular. Only overshadowed by Oracle; not SQL Server/TSQL
We use Microsoft as we are an official Microsoft Gold Training Partner so will use these products where available. As part of our programme we are teaching methodologies and skills using the Microsoft technology but the skills learned are readily transferable to MySQL and SQLite.
Q. I feel the 400/401 course could have been more detailed in some places (i.e. some gantt chart functions appeared to go under the radar a little bit)
This course is centered around project management as a whole and the Gantt chart element is just one tool that can be used in managing a project so we can’t cover the tools in depth; its focus is the methodologies and importance of processes and procedures in managing projects.
Q.The labs tend to be monotonous and due to the speed in which the course is paced at, you tend to rush through the labs without taking much in.
The labs are to be used on the course as an assessment of the skills learned via the training to form part of the assignment; to this end it is the training deliver that needs to be absorbed in order to complete the lab correctly to show you have the skills and or knowledge that the assignment requires.
We do however allow access to the labs for 6 months following the course if you wish to use them as a learning/revision tool.
Q. The time to build the application was limited. It was enough, but it made the application build intensive.
The application build forms the main part of the assignment which is time bound; so the application build needs to be started and finished at specific times. However, the delivery of this course is still relatively new to us and we are reviewing each delivery to see where improvements can be made.
Q. You should offer a session on essay writing skills for the Level 4
This is included at level 3 for report writing skills, at level 4 it is expected that learners can write comprehensive reports and we have an eligibility test to gauge suitability which is in a report format so all learners on a level 4 programme are screened and able to write a report.
Q. The C# course was too basic and constrictive, i think it would be better to allow people to use their own coding conventions and if they can find a better way to do the assignment let them.
At level 3 using your own code is not a skill that is assessed; at level 3 we have to adhere to the guidelines set out by the Awarding Body and complete the assignments that have been approved by them. If you progress to level 4 this is something which is prevalent in all coding courses.
Q. Some more technical insight into email marketing would be interesting. For example, how email servers and spam filters work.
The course focuses on email and mobile marketing strategies; how email servers and spam filters work are not part of a digital marketers role, it is more akin to an IT support technician.
Q. Would love to have some more labs on these level 4 courses
As the level 4 courses aren’t as vendor centric as level 3, and different skills and knowledge are being assessed there aren’t as many courses that require them. They will however use labs on both Server 2012 and IT Virtualisation courses on their level 4
Q. Go back to the old way of emailing work, google docs is glitchy, laggy and has limited capability.
We are a digital training provider using digital tools to complete work. Google docs was chosen due to its simplicity and ease of use; it was trialed and tested to ensure its features and functions were suitable for apprentices to complete their work, and it is. It allows trainers to concentrate on the quality of work without having to move people to breakout rooms and we have received positive feedback from both trainers and apprentices on the switch to google docs.
Q. I think there was a massive gap between basics and building an application on the C# course. More of an emphasis should’ve been made on SOLID principles.
The application that is built is a basic application built on the principles taught and learned over the 4 days prior to the application build. There is nothing in the assignment that is not covered as part of the teaching and learning.
Q. The content was very clear, but the technical depth of the concepts was lacking a little. Although there was an explanation as to how things work, why they work etc and what the .NET framework is doing behind the scenes wasn’t covered. The course itself was very good, but in real world situations things seem to be approached slightly differently with respect to how projects are organised and what code is used. For instance, the course requires the use of methods in places where properties with specific letters would be used instead. Also, some of the code shown is really not used anymore as .NET and C# has newer and better options available for programmers to use.
As this is a level 3 course the technical depth is basic. The principles of projects and how code is organised is something that is covered in the software design and testing course; this course focuses specifically on the paradigm and language. The code used is supplied by City & Guilds and we are required to use it as they are the awarding body.
Q. The Power Points on the 429 course didn’t seem to be as helpful as previous courses.
This course is very learner centric and based heavily on research of facts as we’re not teaching concepts or theories. If the slides and teaching delivery were as in depth as some of the other level 4 courses we would be providing the answers.
Q. The questions could be worded much more specifically and with some sort of indication about how many marks each question is worth to give you an idea how much to write.
We can only set the questions that City & Guilds allow using specific terminology, which we do. We also encourage all learners to answer questions in as much detail as possible to the best of their ability regardless of how many marks a question is worth.
Q. Better quality microphones for tutors as it can be quite hard sometimes to listen to what Jon was saying.
Jon’s mic and headset has been tested and it was working fine; at the start of each session Jon has been made aware to check that the learner can hear him and adjust sound levels accordingly.
Q. This is all theory and every place has a slightly different way of doing things. Implement these into the C# and VB courses, please.
The course is heavily theory based as it is dealing with design and testing concepts; however, there are practical elements when producing designs as part of the assignment and there is a practical testing element with pseudo code.
Q. The course was great but the only issue was the time, this course didn’t need to be completed in a week and would be possible to be done in a shorter amount of time but on the upside this allowed the week to be relaxed in terms of the workload.
Taking in to account the amount of tasks, presentations and recommended Guided Learning Hours it is necessary to make the 030 a five day course.
Q. There seemed to be a lot of very specific information required to answer the questions that were not well explained on the PowerPoint making it hard to answer the questions. The questions that were asked were also not the type of questions that you could look up easily online.
At level 4 apprentices are required to use higher order thinking skills and draw upon their own experiences, research and interpret information to form their own opinion to answer questions.
Q. Is Visual Basic only useful for Software Testers
The Visual Basic course follows the same formula and structure of all of our paradigm and language courses in that you must plan, design, develop, test and document test results. This is to ensure at level 3 all learners get an understanding of the whole process for software development with the paradigm and language being taught. These skills are useful for both developers and testers.
Q. UNIX course is too short
We have been running our Software Developer programme for over three years and for the first year of the programme we ran the UNIX course over 5 days, we received feedback on a regular basis that this was too long and acted upon this to reduce the course to four days. This reduction meant there was less impact to our apprentices and their employers and was well very well received; in turn the course feedback improved. Over the past two years we have ran the course successfully with a 100% pass rate over four days.
Q. Level 4 IT Professional Courses Need to be Updated
Our response – There have been many changes to apprenticeships recently and we are in the process of making exciting changes to our existing level 3 programmes as well as introducing four brand new programmes. Now we are near the completion of this exercise we will soon be in a position to update and revamp our current level 4 programme which will be complete by the end of the year and bring it in line with the excellent curriculum we have for our level 3 courses.
Q. Level 4 400/401 & 402 Courses Aren’t Relevant to my Job Role
Both of these courses are mandatory at level 4 which means that the governing body and awarding body see these courses as providing essential skills that must be taught by us and gained by all apprentices on the level 4 programme in order to successfully achieve. These two courses are required on both our Software Developer and IT Professional programmes and context is provided below for both roles:
400/401 – Effective Communication in Business and Project Management
IT Professional – Effective communication is essential for an IT Professional as you required to communicate with colleagues and customers on a daily basis both in writing and verbally. Effective communication allows IT professionals to troubleshoot issues quickly and efficiently, ask a range of open, closed and directed questions in order to identify root cause and enables them to provide succinct and accurate advice, guidance and resolutions when working on tasks and issues. Project management skills will allow you to apply structure and a formal approach not only to projects but daily tasks as the methodologies are transferable. In addition project work is often carried out by IT Professionals in what they see as isolation when realistically is being completed as part of a wider project; this course will allow for those skills to be developed and allow IT Professionals to understand their role within a project and how they can better manager themselves and others when working on projects.
Software Developer – A software developer requires effective communication skills in order to understand the reasoning and requirements of the software they have been asked to develop. It will also allow for effective error identification and fixing when working with testing and implementation personnel. Project management skills are essential for Software Developers as usually any work they are doing is part of a wider project; each piece of software that is required will have been part of a project as it is all planned, developed, tested and implemented. This course will allow for those skills to be developed and allow Software Developers to understand their role within a project and how they can better manager themselves and others when working on projects.
402 – Systems Development
IT Professionals – This course provides variants of the Systems Development Lifecycle which is used in most businesses for any type of change or development within an organisation or department. These skills will help the IT Professional learn and understand how to implement changes effectively following a model that is benchmarked within the industry.
Software Developers – The Systems Development Lifecycle is the life-blood of any software project and during the planning stage of any piece of software the SDLC is used to formulate and build the project and is followed all the way through to implementation and beyond.
Q. Use a Different Online Platform to Adobe Connect
We have chosen the Adobe connect after having used the Illuminate platform previously and us not being happy with its performance and functionality. In addition we trialled WebEx and Citrix solutions before deciding upon Adobe Connect. The Adobe platform best suited the needs of our apprentices due to its ease of use, functionality and the stable nature of the hosted solution. We are confident that this is the most suitable platform to deliver our Online Live Learning courses.