From education to employment

How to ensure your investment in #EdTech is making a difference

At a time when there is immense pressure on budgets and finite resources, delivering your digital strategy and supporting students and staff as they develop the skills needed for an increasingly digital workplace can be challenging.

So how can you ensure that your money is well spent and achieves the impact you need?

Some of you are already embracing the technological innovations of the fourth industrial revolution and are responding by building ‘Education 4.0’. Emerging technologies like cloud computing, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can add excitement and enhance teaching and learning – providing valuable experience of industry practice.

Staff and students need support to develop the digital skills that will enable them to make the most of these opportunities and boost their employability prospects.

Sarah Knight, our head of change – student experience, explains:

With 65% of today’s students destined for jobs that don’t yet exist, and a well-publicised technical skills gap in the UK, it’s vital to invest in developing the digital capability of your staff, so they can support students in being better prepared for a digital workplace

Knowing the digital strengths and gaps in capability of staff and students is key. A combination of our building digital capability service and our digital experience insights service can provide valuable data to inform your digital strategy.

When it comes to investment decisions, understanding how students and staff use the digital environment you provide and what makes a difference to them is essential – it’s about providing the digital learning experience that students need and expect.

Recognising the importance of technology now and for his future, and welcoming the chance to be consulted on how it’s used at his campus, Josh, a student at City of Wolverhampton College, says:

I think it is really important that other students can get involved with the conversation around digital technologies because technology is so widely used everywhere in every job role.

Two of our members show how they are using data to make evidence-informed decisions and empower students and staff:

University of Westminster

Professor Gunter Saunders, associate director digital engagement and library services, University of Westminster, said:

The discovery tool is stimulating debate at the University of Westminster – at a senior level and among staff and students. Taking part in the 2018 pilot has helped to secure investment for a £1m, two-year project to advance digital capability, transform the way people work and improve the student experience.”

Staff have endorsed the tool, acknowledging its utility, value and potential benefits. They have found the personalised reports useful and the signposted resources interesting.

In addition, 7,000 students have registered for a new suite of online digital development courses aligned to our digital capability framework. Successful completion is rewarded by Westminster digital capability badges – 150 have been awarded so far.

Previously when promoting the need to embrace a digital agenda, people listened, but having a nationally recognised framework to discuss and a diagnostic tool that can help individuals and institutions has added credibility to the debate.

The university also participated in the 2018 pilot and the 2019 digital experience insights surveys for both students and staff. Data from both services is now being used to mature and develop its digital strategy.

Gloucestershire College

Amina Begum, digital learning coach, Gloucestershire College, said:

With a substantial portion of learning taking place via digital channels, the skills and confidence of students and staff is a prime consideration for Gloucestershire College.

The college has more than 500 staff to support, so the data obtained from both the discovery tool and the digital experience insights surveys is helping us to target resources where they can be most effective. The discovery tool also provides a focused way for digital learning coaches to start conversations with staff and ensure they get the support they need.

Without a clear picture of how staff and students make use of technology in our organisation it is hard to know where to focus investment. Jisc has helped us to identify areas where we needed more training as well as recognising how we can share the digital knowledge already available within our departments.”

Students said they wished they had been able to use the discovery tool at the beginning of their courses. They liked the formats, the charts and the personalised feedback.

Practitioners interested in developing their digital capabilities can attend Jisc’s Connect More events around the UK, 4 June – 4 July 2019.

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