@DerbyCollege Group (DCG) has launched a new student-led initiative to further enhance the quality and effectiveness of using technology in face-to-face and virtual teaching, learning and assessment.
Twelve students from across the curriculum have been recruited as Digital Advocates who, over the coming months, will research, test and recommend new safe and secure digital platforms, tools and activities that could be adopted.
Supported by staff and local digital sector employers, the students will work individually and as a group on a number of projects which will also provide them with valuable work experience.
Having tested programmes with fellow students and teaching staff, our digital advocates will be presenting their findings and recommendations for the future, ensuring that students influence what we do in digital teaching and learning at DCG.
The Digital Advocate Programme is the latest innovation developed by DCG which, earlier this year, was chosen by the government as one of a further 18 schools and colleges to become ‘EdTech Schools and Colleges Demonstrators’.
DCG is the only college in the East Midlands to be part of the second stage of the programme and has so far worked with more than 30 primary, secondary and SEND schools, FE colleges and providers.
Having rolled out remote learning across the organisation in anticipation of lockdown, DCG’s EdTech and Advanced Practitioner teams have been sharing their expertise by providing bespoke support for other education providers.
On-going sessions include best practice in communicating with parents, best practice in using virtual platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Office 365 for teaching, learning and assessment, digital well-being, appropriate use of technology for students with inclusive needs and e-safety.
Melanie Lanser, Director of Teaching, Learning and Academic Research explained that the college was now keen to ensure that the student voice was the driving force in further developing robust digital pedagogies that promote excellence in teaching and learning in face-to-face and virtual sessions.
She said: “We have received very positive feedback from schools and colleges that we have worked with in the EdTech Schools and Colleges Demonstrator Programme and we are now taking this to the next stage.
“The Digital Advocate Programme embraces the creativity and user experience of a broad cross section of our student community including those on academic, vocational, inclusion and ESOL study programmes.
“The Digital Advocates’ goal is to identify tried and tested solutions to digital learning opportunities ahead which address the challenges of improving communications, inclusion and accessibility from both the student and teacher perspective.”
She continued: “DCG has been at the forefront of embracing new technology to enhance teaching and learning for several years through partnerships with Microsoft and Fujitsu, being a SEND Centre of Excellence and currently an Edtech Demonstrator College
“The education sector recognises that blended learning which combines classroom and workshop-based delivery with virtual teaching and learning will not just be a necessary reality but a positive step forward for many students’ individual learning journey. It is therefore important that we continue to be innovative ourselves so that we can further share this extended knowledge both internally and externally.”
Student, Edgars Grundulis, who is based at the Roundhouse, explained:
“By being a Digital Advocate, I would like to help accelerate the movement to the digital age.
“For me, personally, technology enhanced my life and even got me to the point where I am way better emotionally and far more productive during lockdown.
“I do not see this as just a project but a chance to create a new method for people like me, to have the chance to experience something that might be better for us all.
Acacia Henry, who studies at the Joseph Wright Centre, added:
“After the first lockdown, I had a better understanding of how important it is to make sure digital teaching and organisation methods at the college are the best they can be.
“I also started to incorporate more digital tools into my learning and saw how much of a difference it made, so am excited at the opportunity to help develop digital tools for the whole college."