As I travel the UK and experience the variety of priorities across the UK's FE Colleges, I am excited when I discover a project that inspires the conversation around 'digital'.
Digital is such a wide topic – ask 20 people what digital means to them and each would have a different definition. One sure fire belief would not be the need for this as a skill. The question then begs, who in an organisation should have the 'digital skills' to ensure sustainable implementation of the Digital Agenda. Is it the back office? Front office? Classroom? Marketing? This issue across all sectors is the same – do we equip all or some of our staff to have the skills? The fact is that centralised IT is over, we all need to roll up our sleeves now.
In my day-to-day life I work with large and small companies to help them become motivated to digitally transform, relative to the Education Sector their issues of transformation seem fairly simple. I am sure there are parallels in marketing and in processes and systems of finance, but the agenda around the stakeholders are very different and my fear is that this is halting progress within FE and the Digital Agenda. The complexity of suppliers, trust, staff churn, funding and priorities hold back the desire to start this agenda.
I think we can all assume that the majority of people would like to go about their work in the same way that they have for 15, 20 or even 30 years, but the reality is that the new connected and digital world cannot let us do that. Through my eyes and experience of working with FE, I see the difficulties of staff churn, motivation, confidence and occasionally, apathy toward digital. Yet, the very markets we want to serve and the students we recruit are all seeking digital capability and digital opportunities. We are now in the Digital Age. The last Age as significant as this was the Industrial one. I sense that the Leaders and their Senior Teams need a 'digital hug' and a place to learn and share without any hidden agendas.
On the 4th June, Digital Business Britain and The Education Foundation – the UK's first cross sector education think tank with a focus on education reform, technology and innovation – are hosting a new programme to encourage the sharing of best digital practice through a 'Roundtable' with our Founding Partner, IBM.
The 'Digital Colleges' programme aims to gather together the latest thinking in the digital and technology arena across the UK and globally and share it rapidly across the FE and Skills sector, into Government thinking and policy making, as well as, importantly, building confidence amongst leaders and making an impact on the ground.
Penny Power is founder of the Digital Youth Academy