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Maximum expectations against limited support – How can FE teachers and assessors become more digitally capable? #LTbookFE

Daniel Scott, Digital learning specialist

There are a myriad of problems that face tutors in further education (FE), such as the changes in government and your organisation’s policies, right through to the landscape in which learners need, expect and access online learning materials.  You can be informed on policies and apply changes where required.  However, when a tutor is faced with making changes to meet the needs of their learners and prospect learners, this always poses quite a challenge.

For a long time, digital technology has played a key role in meeting learner’s needs and expectations as well as meeting those of your employer.  If you are a tutor or an assessor in FE, you will understand the pressures and challenges of applying the effective use of information learning technology (ILT) in your practices.  

A big question still remains: How can FE teachers and assessors source, purposefully apply and keep up to date with ILT?

One of the huge pressures is to include and embed ILT effectively into new or existing practices. This may be designing for blended and flipped approaches in your curriculum and teaching delivery. Or even making your programme site on your organisational Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) a more interactive and dynamic learning experience, which moves beyond a repository of downloadable files.

Your learners may even know how to use a variety of digital technologies, which could leave you feeling low in confidence. However, they might be less able to apply them to learning situations – which is your role to guide and facilitate.

There are many other pressures and challenges that you will experience in implementing ILT. However, you might agree that the main barrier derives from having little time to explore how digital technologies can be used in your subject area.

On the other hand, you might even be confident with the application of ILT and design of eLearning, by exploring with what time you have available, discussed ILT practice with colleagues or even had training from a learning technologist or even with your own learners. However, it is usually just enough to get by, which is not always good thing long-term. In FE it’s typically given that staff have to create their own resources and coping strategies.

How often do you struggle with sourcing new ILT tools and applying them to pedagogical needs?

Using ILT on the fly restricts the time for you to develop an underpinning rationale to which will help you use ILT purposefully. You may also be anxious that you need to develop your own digital capabilities to keep in line with organisational expectations as well as your own personal professional development goals.

As there are many digital technologies and ways you can use them, you may be left pondering what ILT you should use and how with your learners. There is no one way to use ILT, however there are grounding basics in which you can use to make your approaches to ILT more purposeful, which as a result make it a more positive and enjoyable experience for you and your learners. Which is all about improving and maximising the learning experience for all.

If ILT is used appropriately, it should not create more tasks and take up more of your time, but rather improve and replace your older practices that took longer to do.

Do you often ask yourself:

  • How do I identify my own digital capabilities so I know what digital technologies I am capable of using and exploring further potential uses?
  • How do I choose the right digital technology for my subject and learners?
  • How can I create effective blended learning curriculum, programme and lessons?
  • How do I go about creating my own eLearning activities and digital resources?
  • How can I increase my overall confidence in using and facilitating learning with ILT and solving some basic technical problems?
  • How can I improve my own role with the use of ILT that does not create more tasks and take up more time?
  • How do I keep up to date with ILT?

You may likely have other specific questions regarding the use of ILT. But ultimately, you might realise that FE tutors and assessors are not supported enough with a ‘guide on the side’ to help them plan and deliver effectively with ILT.

A guide on the side: a practical and resourceful solution

What aspects of the above anxieties hit home to you? Worry not, there is a practical and resourceful solution in the form of a book to help you through these challenges and barriers; “Learning Technology: A Handbook for FE Teachers and Assessors.

The publication addresses the above issues in more detail and helping readers to point them in the right direction. Whilst I cannot grant you all the time you need in your role, this is a resource that enables you to source and explore a range of digital technologies and to reflect and develop a clear rationale for the effective use of ILT. It will help you to align your pedagogical needs to a range of digital technologies.

There are many learning technology books that are ‘theory heavy’ and written for the already digital capable. However, for those that would appreciate a bit more guidance, the Learning Technology handbook is ideal and provides an accessible and practical guide for you to develop your digital capabilities in using ILT effectively and purposefully.

You will know from your earlier teacher education that there were many supporting publications. However, you’ll probably have noted that there were none that provided a specific focus on ILT alone, that provided you the alignment that you needed in order to source, explore and implement appropriately with your learning and teaching needs.

You may be studying on an Education and Training or a learning technology programme, if so, this book can also complement your understanding and develop your practices with ILT.

Daniel Scott, Digital learning specialist

About Daniel Scott: A digital learning specialist who began his learning technology career at a further education (FE) college. He proactively researches, evaluates and reflects on the effective use of information learning technology (ILT) and eLearning design in learning, teaching and assessment and he specialises in analysing pedagogy to digital technology. Daniel has been a Certified Member of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) since 2013 and won the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year award 2016. He holds a Technology Enhanced Learning MSc and is a qualified teacher, assessor and lead internal verifier.

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