A blended learning journey - the City & Guilds Way


City & Guilds

City & Guilds is a global market leader in skills education. It develops programmes of learning, certification, assessment and learning technology to support colleges, training providers, and governments.

Key project features

Totara Learn
Learner Experience


An integrated set of digital services

City & Guilds has found training providers are under increasing pressure to support learners with more engaging learning, supporting greater retention and achievement rates.

In the Food and Drink sector, where we focused our pilot, training providers struggle with retention rates as well as attempting to deliver differentiated classes to a mixed ability cohort. The typical learner profile is a 16-24 year old digital native, who may have a history of disengagement from education.

Kirstie Donnelly, CEO of City & Guilds sets out the vision:

“If successful, the City & Guilds Way would combine a clear curriculum philosophy; teaching and learning content; communities of practice; careers advice and information into an integrated set of services that would support the move of vocational education providers from traditional delivery to digital. It’s a massive change programme for City & Guilds and it needed ambition and dedication to achieve it."


The learning strategy

The City & Guilds Way project piloted a holistic end-to-end learner experience comprising elearning, tracking, information and guidance and community elements aimed at supporting training providers, tutors, assessors and learners in each vocational sector.

Technology-led learning

Here’s a snapshot of the elements making up the City & Guilds Way learning strategy:

1. The ‘All Things’ portal

Learners are welcomed via the All Things Food & Drink portal – a rich source of inspirational, peer-rated, sector-specific content, focusing on news, careers and employability. It combines Totara LMS and Drupal CMS to create a rich web experience.

2. The routemap

From the portal, learners can check their learning progress via their personalised learning routemap. Here they can see their progress quickly and visually, as well as any areas where they might be falling behind. Tutors were a key group for us to support in this design so it also provides a handy tutor view, enabling them to see how their learners are getting on and providing an early warning of those who might be falling behind.

3. The engagement layer

To add an extra layer of engagement and competition – ideal for our target audience – we designed an engagement layer. Learners earn points and badges as they complete key tasks. We gave tutors an extra ‘carrot’ to dangle to more reluctant learners - they can set learners a challenge to earn bonus points.

4. Community interactivity

We implemented community functionality into the portal, empowering learners to create groups to share ideas and inspiration. It’s also a channel for tutors and/or City & Guilds to broadcast messages and respond to queries.

Innovative elearning design

We designed a range of over 40 short, engaging digital resources targeted at our typical learner. For the learning content strategy we developed clear ideas about how to create resources that would capture their interest and imagination. Resources can be used independently or as directed by tutors as part of a classroom or webinar setting.  


A positive disruptor

Here’s an overview of the positive feedback received from the pilot colleges across the UK:

"We were gobsmacked at how quickly they got it and ran with it."
"Nothing like it exists... there is nothing which feels as easy to use and logical as this."
"First time in five years I’ve seen a class with every single student really engaged."
  • 100% of tutors think it is a credible source of careers advice for learners
  • 56% of all learners agreed they felt more involved with a community of learners than normal
  • 87% of learners using the community rated it as good or very good
  • 75% of learners who were set challenges said they put in more effort and none put in less effort
  • Tutors reported being able to see right away how they could use points to set personalised challenges to address issues such as attendance
  • 87% of learners rated the elearning as good or very good
  • 67% of learners agree they learnt more than expected
  • 58% of learners said they'd be more likely to complete with the system in place - it helped more able students stay motivated
  • 55% of learners said they were more motivated than normal for courses

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