At the Association of Colleges’ (AoC) annual conference, 19-20 November 2019, representatives from further education, government and Jisc will explore how embedding digital technology in education can help colleges meet the expectations and challenges of the future.
A nationwide economic action plan and a recent review of digital innovation throughout Wales highlighted the importance of businesses adapting with digital technology. Marian Jebb, head of post-16 quality and data management for the Welsh Government, said:
“We are seeing massive changes across education, skills and employment. These changes mirror the ways in which technology is increasingly central to our everyday lives.
“It’s really important that our educational institutions help to secure a ‘pipeline’ of learners who are adept and confident at using digital tools.”
To this end, the Welsh Government’s Digital 2030 framework, which is being applied across colleges nationwide, puts technology front and centre.
The importance of supporting staff
Yet findings from Jisc’s recent digital experience insights research suggests that, across the UK, there’s more work to be done.
Of the 13,389 FE students that responded, only 49% see digital skills as important for their future careers, and just 40% feel their course prepares them for the digital workplace. Only 25% of the 3,049 members of FE teaching staff surveyed agreed that teaching spaces at their college are well-designed for digital technology use, and 66% would like digital technologies to be used more than they are now in their teaching practice.
The good news is, a number of institutions throughout the UK are working to address these challenges – including Weston College in the south west of England, where transformative change is taking place.
Jon Hofgartner, the college’s assistant director of technology, learning resources and skills:
“Focusing on digital skills, we’ve sought to exploit new and emerging cloud environments, enabling learners to access their resources, communicate with each other and collaborate together. How our staff digitally interact with learners is modelled upon how they digitally interact with colleagues and external partners – so it reflects the workplace.”
Jisc is also working closely with colleges to help them identify their digital needs and find appropriate tools and resources to plug any gaps. Paul McKean, head of FE and skills at Jisc, comments:
“The government’s edtech strategy in England and the Welsh Government’s Digital 2030 framework highlight the importance of technology. Meanwhile, the work of the Independent Commission on the College of the Future explores how the FE sector can be supported to embrace digital.
"Aligning courses and curriculum with the evolving needs of Industry 4.0 are key, as is upskilling the workforce to include digital skills.”
Ultimately, McKean concludes:
“In supporting colleges to embed and embrace digital, our Education 4.0 vision recognises the change colleges, government and learners want to see”.
To hear more about how colleges are being championed by government and Jisc to embrace digital technology, come to Jisc’s session at the AoC Annual Conference, 11:30 on 19 November 2019.