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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.