This month is the silly season! Conferences, awards and seminars draw the year to a close for many associations. All want to add value to their members and ensure that they give and gain attention before the December and January lull. This has been my busiest November for many years. I am speaking at lots of conferences, all of which want me to talk about Digital Skills and how we motivate their members and associates to embrace them.
My time pans the FE sector, local councils, national Government, business networks and large companies. I have done webinars that reach small business and spoken to many different sectors. What is great is my message is the same for all sectors and all individuals, whatever role they play within an organisation...we all have to connect, engage, listen and adapt to the digital age now.
I think Ronan Dunne, the CEO of O2 Telefonica, gave me my favourite words at the Microsoft Future Decoded event. He said "If you don't have a digital strategy, then you don't have a business strategy". I could not have found better words, so Ronan, I am now mentioning you in all my talks, writing and tweets! Second to this was Sir Bob Geldof, whom I have heard speak at two events now and say "only the educated are free". Those words are so true for us all.
Bringing this together, I ask FE Principals, CEOs and leaders, are you educated on digital? What does it mean to you, your staff and critically, your organisation? Mr. CEO, do you have a digital strategy for 2015 and not just a plan for how you will increase your e-learning provision, your Twitter and Facebook marketing?
I make a plea to this sector to support the Principals and CEOs who face the toughest job. They have to evolve their College into a digital age. They need a Digital Mindset and to build a digital culture.
To put my money where my mouth is, this time last year at the AoC Conference I met with Ian Fordham of The Education Foundation and Cailean Hargrave from IBM, both of whom are dedicated to Digital in FE. I put to them that we needed to get some leaders of FE in a room and help them discover the issues they faced. In June this year we had our first 'roundtable' and in October we had the fourth and final in the series. On 18 November at the AoC 2014 Conference, so one year on, we launched a report sharing our findings: 'Digital Colleges, The Journey So Far'. Thanks to Gill Clipson, Deputy Chief Executive and Matt Dean, Technology Policy Manager at the Association of Colleges for their support in achieving the report and its launch.
You can download the report HERE. It is aimed at creating thoughts and inspiring a supportive plan for our Principals and CEOs. My name is in the hat. I want to help this sector understand what it takes to be inside the matrix we call 'The Social Internet'. My quote to leave you with is this:
"Social Engagement is the first step to digital transformation; you have to be a digital citizen to know how to truly serve your community. We all have to join this world in order to evolve within".
The need for a digital vision, journey and never a destination! Unless you are on the journey you will never change what needs changing.
I would also like to take a moment to both thank and list the Colleges who gave their time and inspired me to write my 'Where are the FE thought leaders that are building 21st Century assets?' blog here last month. They are listed here.
Penny Power is founder of the Digital Youth Academy