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Minister backs college teacher skills to help pandemic-proof digital education

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70% of teachers in the FE sector are confident at trying out new technologies. 81% feel motivated to use technology, working to ensure learners get the best possible education during the pandemic and beyond. @Jisc

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan today addresses the critical importance of the continuing professional development of teaching staff; calling on FE leaders to “work with Jisc and others in the sector to develop digital strategies that place the skills of their staff as central to delivering technology enabled learning for their learners and communities”.

This comes as the education and technology non-for-profit Jisc publishes a major survey of the digital skills of 2,685 college teaching staff. While the digital experience insights survey, finds great enthusiasm for the use of digital in teaching, only 22% agree they have enough time to explore new digital tools and approaches.

Over one-fifth of teachers (21%) agree they have the chance to assess their digital skills, yet only 38% are provided with guidance about the digital skills needed for their job role. Just 16% agree they receive reward and recognition for the digital skills they develop (45% neutral, 39% disagree).

While 62% of survey responses were gathered on or after the national lockdown on 23 March 2020, the report overall shows a consistent and positive shift in the number of teaching staff using technology to enhance teaching, learning and assessment. This increase points towards a greater need for staff to receive guidance and opportunities to develop their digital skills.

Authoring the foreword to Jisc’s digital experience insights teaching staff survey 2020, Gillian Keegan comments:

“Colleges are the beating heart of communities – they connect people, places and industry with upskilling, retraining and lifelong learning opportunities.  The Further Education (FE) sector has long been among the leaders in digitally delivered teaching and learning, in particular for vocational skills that reflect the digitally-enhanced industries that drive our economy. COVID-19 accelerated the role of technology in colleges enabling learners to continue their studies, connect with their tutors, and access online support services.  This rapid shift to remote online learning was achieved through the fantastic collaboration and willingness of the FE sector’s workforce. As learners now return to their rightful place in the classroom, technology will continue to play an important role in complementing face-to-face delivery, and in opening up new opportunities to expand adult participation.”

Findings in the report point towards a timely opportunity to harness motivation and ensure partnership working across all stakeholders to give staff, as well as learners, the best digital experience possible. Asked how organisations could better support staff to develop their digital skills, 47% answered access to training opportunities, 28% time to innovate and develop their digital practice, 11% access to reliable IT hardware, software and wifi, 9% development of the digital organisational strategy, recognition and culture and 4% support.

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Gillian Keegan adds:

“This report comes at a critical time for the FE sector.  Our ambitious White Paper will set out how the system can unlock even more potential of our fantastic college system. I encourage the FE sector to consider the rich data the report offers so we can collectively unleash the creativity, talent and innovation that exists in its most valuable asset – teachers.”

Sarah Knight, Jisc’s head of data and digital capability, concludes: “Through the changing landscape of the pandemic, and the rapid shift to remote learning, teaching staff in colleges have shown resilience and confidence in using technology in all aspects of their roles. It’s vital that staff are supported to enhance and develop their digital skills and are given the time to practice, to continue to drive forward the enhancement of learners’ digital experiences.”

The report mirrors recommendations from Jisc’s three year further education and skills strategy, which will help steer and support further education providers across the UK on their digital journey.

Find out more

•           Read the digital experience insights 2020 report

•           Register your interest in running Jisc’s digital experience insights surveys with your learners and staff

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