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Discover eLearning is very proud to have recently worked alongside Middlesbrough College on delivering their new higher education access course.

The Access to Higher Education programme allows mature students who may have previously missed out on academic opportunities the chance to return to education.

Chris Hodgson, director of Discover eLearning, was approached by Middlesbrough College to convert the Diploma in Health pathway course from a classroom-based experience into an eLearning package.

Together, they decided to make the project reflect the excitement of starting a new course by taking students on a journey down ‘Access Street’; a virtual, animated 2D street containing course materials, seminars and help areas. This was in response to previous access courses they had seen, which they believed to be disengaging for learners.

Chris said: “Access Street is a fully immersive environment full of colour, animation and sound. The buildings that the student can enter all provide a gateway to the learning and support offered to the student throughout the course.

“The student starts by walking along Access Street before entering the various buildings that sit on the Street, including a virtual representation of Middlesbrough College. We also decided that we wanted the student to be guided by a character who chaperones them to the various doors.

“Each of the doors takes the learner to unique locations and interactive experiences related to a specific theme. For example, the third theme, which covers the 70 year history of the NHS, has the ‘Ghost of NHS Past’ Aneurin Bevan come to visit the character like in ‘A Christmas Carol’!”

By expanding the existing course into a fully online distance learning course, the college was able to significantly widen the number of potential students. Some were discouraged in the past by factors such as geographical location or family commitments.

Students previously unable to enrol on a classroom-based access course can now work towards gaining a potentially life-changing qualification from their own home.

In addition to the course itself, a support network was set up including a Facebook page where tutors can provide help. In addition, students also offer each other support through encouragement and study groups.

With the NHS announcing its ambition to recruit an extra 40,000 nurses over the next five years, the college knew there would be a strong demand for new recruits across all health professions.

The first year of the course had an excellent take-up, with 27 students participating. 70% of the initial intake will progress to university in order to embark on a health-related career, which is above the national average for non-distance learning.

Ian Evans from Middlesbrough College said: “Working with Chris has contributed greatly to the overall success of delivering the Access to Higher Education course digitally.

“As the first students were scheduled to join the course in September 2018, there was always a ticking clock on having good quality material ready for the start of each theme. Discover eLearning’s planning was invaluable for the success of the project.”


Discover eLearning and Middlesbrough College have been nominated for two Learning Technology Awards for the Access To HE Project. We look forward to sharing the outcome of this nomination towards the end of the year.

Chris Hodgson

Chris Hodgson

Chris Hodgson is an award-winning Digital learning Solutions Developer and Director of Discover eLearning Ltd. He supports SMEs and large firms through the process of integrating eLearning into their organisation. Chris has over 10 years experience working in Higher Education, Independent Training Provider Sector and Charity Sector learning and development.

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