The last decade has seen an abundance of innovation in the education sector, with large increases in technology throughout the learner journey, within areas such as e-portfolios, digital learning, virtual learning environments (VLE), video conferencing and applications to improve efficiency and manage processes. Adding to this, electronic enrolments have really been gaining traction over the last few years, prompting many training providers, colleges & schools to re-think their current enrolment processes in favour of the electronic alternative.
The typical enrolment day in a college would see lengthy queues of learners lining up throughout the day, filling in a form and signing a document. The use of electronic enrolment would eliminate these sorts of processes. Many organisations use them in differing ways; some enrol completely remotely, where some may have new learners enrol face to face, with returning students enrolling online. However, some providers will perform most of the enrolment online with the student only coming in to sign the forms physically. Nevertheless, whichever way the electronic enrolments are implemented, they bring an array of benefits for your organisation.
What are the benefits of electronic enrolment?
Data integrity is key to ensuring you have accurate data available for your records and for funding. Electronic enrolments reduce the chances of human error, incorrect data entry or data omission. Inputting data electronically allows for data transparency, without the worry of physical enrolment problems such as illegible handwriting. They provide one point of data entry which can be used to populate future forms allows for strong integrity of data, with no risk of duplication.
The traditional enrolment process comes with a substantial amount of paperwork, with an incredible workload placed on the administration team. Electronic enrolments can completely remove the paper from the enrolment process, e-portfolio systems such as Smart Assessor come with electronic enrolments and the ability to perform a ‘wet’ signature digitally.
This removes paper completely, reducing the carbon footprint of the organisation while additionally streamlining & digitizing the enrolment process. The ESFA funding rules explicitly permit digital signatures, “We accept electronic evidence, including digital signatures, but you must have wider systems and processes in place to assure you that learners exist and are eligible for funding.”
Enrolment periods may bring headaches to the administration team with a need to process each individual learner’s paperwork manually, with mass amounts of paperwork this can prove very difficult to manage. This task needs to be performed accurately for entry into funding systems. It falls onto the admin team to ensure each form is error-free, while also checking each form has the appropriate signatures from the relevant parties.
Some apprenticeship e-portfolios, such as Smart Assessor will allow signatures to be obtained digitally through the simple ticking of a box allowing for minimal admin time. The automation of signature requests significantly increases efficiency and reduces the time taken to go back and forth obtaining signatures, which is required on some other e-portfolios.
Through enabling use of electronic enrolment, there is no reason why enrolment cannot be done completely remotely, especially in today’s climate, with social distancing measures rife. However, this method of enrolment would work for distance learning, or even just to streamline the enrolment process.
Some organisations are known to enrol remotely but then meet face to face to sign the enrolment forms off, whereas other providers have enrolled completely remotely without the need for face to face contact. The use of electronic enrolments can be transferred widely, even in the case of having students enrol physically but through the means computers, tablets or mobile devices, the possibilities of streamlining the process are endless!
Traditional paper enrolments come with too many risks to the data. Whether it is paperwork getting lost, stolen, spoiled or other, if the data is lost before it is processed, there is no back-up. With electronic enrolments you are far less likely to commit a data breach, if you are using an e-portfolio such as Smart Assessor in your apprenticeship provision, the data will also be encrypted.
Electronic enrolments allow for management reports to be created with ease. Incorporating enrolment into management reporting allows for information to be kept at every step of the process, keeping staff informed while also providing real-time visibility on the journey of each applicant – great for Ofsted inspections. Additionally, management reports can also be used with enrolment as a variable to deliver compliant targeted communications to students, parents, carers, or employers.