Jon Wilcox takes a look at the new online course tracker available to accounting students.
Following a pilot scheme earlier in the year, BPP’s ETrack online portfolio launched last month, enabling AAT students (and their assessors) to track their course performance and submit work, and messages, to their assessor.
ETrack’s launch marks the first time a national UK accounting training provider has provided such a portfolio, moving away from the traditional paper-based system.
The 300 user strong pilot in London and Manchester unveiled no major issues, allowing a roll out across the UK’s AAT students at the end of October. ETrack is free to use for all students booking a new unit since August, although it can pull a student’s course history into the system.
Logging onto ETrack is straightforward enough, using a typical username/password combination to allow access. However, Clare Buck, head of AAT at BPP confirms the site is not yet fully compatible in Mozilla’s Firefox but works in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
Once in, students can track their progress through the AAT course in a series of pie-charts, which break down modules into several areas including ‘Completed’, ‘Completed awaiting IV’, ‘In progress’, and ‘Overdue’. A further breakdown of data gives the expected date for a unit’s completion, together with rates of expected and actual progress being made, enabling students to quickly judge whether they’re on track.
The amount of detail on offer beyond the pie-charts is substantial. Students get a breakdown of all their subscribed courses on a unit-by-unit basis, together with information on the evidence provided to support its completion. The ETrack system essentially breaks away from traditional mounds of paperwork, allowing students to quickly check whether they’ve fulfilled a unit’s requirements without having to sift through box files. A full set of training materials related to subscribed courses are available to ETrack users too, allowing them to download the files in the universal PDF format when required.
In addition to course tracking, ETrack enables students to contact assessors through an internal messaging system. Since a majority of BPP students work remotely, away from campus, it’s hoped the combined communication and functionality of the system will foster a greater sense of inclusion: “We want them to feel part of the community and the classroom,” says Buck.
Finally, there’s a journal giving students the chance to make notes of the course as they go, together with the additional ability to record notes for assessors – who also have access privileges to the system. Students can also upload work based evidence for submission to their assessor, mapping it to the relevant standards and submitting it for assessment. The assessor can then view the evidence, update the mappings if required and assess the work, storing it automatically in the online portfolio. Once the student has completed their course they are then provided with an electronic copy of their portfolio to keep.
BPP has just had its first unit 10 student fully complete their project through the Etrack system, submitting drafts to their assessor and receiving direct feedback. The student, Alison Burridge, comments ‘I have found using the etrack system very useful and easy. I have loved being able to actually see the progress I made, as I made it. It certainly increased my motivation. As opposed to waiting weeks for everything to go through the post. It was very easy to attach documents to send in. Being honest, I love Etrack. I wish I could complete every unit this way.’
ETrack is currently aimed at pre-qualified accountants, but BPP isn’t resting on its laurels. Buck confirmed that an updated version of the system is scheduled to go live in the first six months of 2010, and will feature several improvements including support for RSS Feeds and key skills development, along with course tracking for tutors and assessors undergoing CPD training. The development of an SMS text service delivering messages and results to students is also under review, and rounds off the BPP’s electronic training strategy over the coming 12 months.