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Lack of #EdTech leaving FE students unprepared for workplace

Kenny Nicholl, General Manager, EMEA at Instructure
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FE students let down by classroom tech, educators call for Government support in improving technology uptake.

Many FE students are being let down by classroom technology provision, according to a new study by Instructure, the creators of the Virtual Learning Environment; Canvas.

The study among people enrolled in FE courses finds that currently only 37% feel prepared to go into a workplace using digital technologies and just a fifth (22%) believe that they have all of the key digital skills needed for their future career.

Canvas’s survey uncovers many reasons for this, not least that fewer than three in ten (29%) believe that the technology used at their school/FE college is up to date. Furthermore, one in five (19%) state that the tech ‘always seems to be broken or offline’.

Teacher Expertise

Many also have concerns about how digital learning is currently being deployed. More than a quarter of current FE students (27%) worry that their teachers don’t have the required expertise to use tech well in lessons.

Given this it is perhaps not surprising that one in seven (14%) believe that technology currently interferes with lessons rather than improving them.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Canvas’ research suggests that colleges need to be smarter in their use of digital learning. One in three FE students (34%) want technology to be used more on their course and the same proportion (34%) want to make greater use of their own smartphone or tablet in their studies.

Using familiar devices may also go some way to better involving the one in nine (11%) FE students who worry when they have to use technology in class.

UK-wide Digital Strategy for Educators

The research among FE students supports the findings in Canvas’s Driving Digital Strategy in FE report, released today (18 Oct).

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It shows that while students want to learn digitally, there is a lack of a coherent UK-wide digital strategy for educators in the UK. The report finds that a lack of strategy can lead to fragmented and inconsistent technology purchasing and leave students digitally unprepared.

However, Canvas’s research points to the significant opportunity that exists for FE institutions that can successfully harness digital learning. Four in ten students say that technology makes lessons more interesting and engaging (42%) and helps them prepare for using technology in their future career by using it in the classroom (40%).

Out of Date Tech

Essentially, students in FE colleges report that they are feeling let down by existing classroom tech, feeling unprepared to go into the workplace and use digital technologies, with out-of-date tech a major concern.

Canvas has consulted with a range of FE educators, who indicated that even if budgets do actually increase – as anticipated following party conference noises by Damian Hinds – this must be accompanied by a UK-wide digital strategy for education to help institutions procure the right tech to support educators and their pedagogy needs.

Great Examples

Whether that’s project based learning, facilitating collaboration between peers, teachers and industry colleges, or garnering digital skills which will be crucial in the workplace, technology has a vital role to play in FE education.

 

We know that there are some great examples of FE institutions using technology to significantly enhance teaching and learning, but studies like this show there is work to be done.

Students are now calling for better use of tech in the classroom and studies like our ‘Driving Digital Strategy’ report show that FE leaders are committed to bettering their use of tech.

We now need a coherent digital strategy from Government to support educators and help them to overcome challenges in getting technology into the classroom.

Kenny Nicholl, General Manager, EMEA at Instructure

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