From education to employment

Maximising digital opportunity for the next generation

By Bev Jones, Joint CEO, Career Colleges Trust

With schools, colleges and universities making a sudden return to online delivery – expectations regarding the quality of remote teaching and learning are high.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson even went as far as to say in the Commons last week week that if parents are not happy with the provision their school or college is offering, then they should report them to Ofsted.

This move has been criticised by many education leaders, seen as an unnecessarily negative approach, pitching teachers and parents against each other. This may well be true, but what it does illustrate is the determination of Government to ensure high quality and consistent online provision across the country.

Many schools and colleges are building positively on the foundations they laid during the first lockdown and are providing effective and engaging remote learning for their students. However, there are others who continue to struggle with the move from face-to-face teaching.

Using technology to support the development of students’ digital skills

Here at the Career Colleges Trust, we have for many years been advocating the benefits and importance of using technology to support the development of students’ digital skills. These are skills that young people will need for future employment, whatever sector they choose to enter.

One of the barriers we have identified is the lack of confidence among teaching staff to introduce technology into the classroom. Even when an individual has a good level of skill themselves (as is often the case) they can still be nervous about utilising such skills during their teaching practice.

For so many teachers, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a baptism of fire in terms of digital technology. Leaders were left with no choice at all but to move online; and this was a much easier process for those who had already developed a digital strategy in their institutions.

We offer a Digital Leaders programme as part of our extensive CPD portfolio. This supports middle managers and senior leaders to develop either whole organisation or departmental approaches to digital transformation. The programme explores the potential of technology as well as helping participants to implement strategies that address local need and embed digital skills into teaching, learning and quality processes.

With a ‘tech-enabled’ leader, strategies and skills can be shared across an organisation

With a ‘tech-enabled’ leader, strategies and skills can be shared across an organisation. This approach is key to the implementation of an effective digital learning strategy, facilitating staff buy in and providing support throughout the whole school or college.

From high quality webinars and workshops, through to virtual work placements and mentoring, it really is possible to offer students a range of opportunities, even during lockdown, that will help them develop the crucial employability skills they need to achieve career success.

But for this to happen, teaching staff must be supported to develop their own digital knowledge and indeed, be given the confidence to successfully share effective techniques and skills with their students. 

Adopting new approaches and new ways of doing things is never easy. The world is shifting more quickly than any of us could have imagined and educators must continue to look ahead and identify the real-world skills that we need to be equipping our students with.

Now is the time to maximise the benefits of technology in the classroom to ensure effective teaching and learning – and help establish lifelong digital skills for the next generation.

By Bev Jones, Joint CEO, Career Colleges Trust

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