From education to employment

Digital innovation award for College staff

Rob Lea, eSystems Technologist at Barnsley College (@barnsleycollege), has won the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE) Community Nomination Award for the work he has undertaken in relation to digital innovation at Barnsley College.

MIEE is a national programme created to recognise educators using technology to pave the way for their peers for better learning and student outcomes.

In response to the digital revolution brought about by COVID-19 restrictions, Rob has encouraged, supported and engaged teaching staff at the College to become certified MIEEs who have adopted 21st Century teaching and learning practices. They are now seen as leaders in digital technologies and coach and mentor other staff in College on how to adapt their teaching and learning to integrate digital technology tools to inspire students and improve outcomes. As a result of Rob’s commitment to digital innovation, 5% of College staff are now MIEE certified, surpassing the programme’s target of 1%. 

Barnsley College has implemented a digital strategy which has seen the Digital Transformation Team support College staff over the past 18 months to ease the transition of digital learning. Through this work the team has provided staff with the skills and knowledge to ensure students are still receiving an outstanding learning experience throughout the pandemic. 

Rob said:

“I was delighted to be nominated for the award and especially to win it. To be nominated by your peers makes all the hard work worthwhile and appreciated. This award wouldn’t be possible without the fantastic educators and teachers who have excelled in developing and utilising new digital skills to make the transition to online/remote learning as positive as possible for students over the last 18 months.”

Chris Pearson, a tutor at Barnsley College who has achieved MIEE status, also said:

“Rob first developed my interest in learning technology when he developed the “Tech Teach” scheme. He supported me through this giving me lots of ideas to use in my lessons and coming to observe.

“Once I completed this, Rob encouraged me to participate in the MIE and MIEE schemes. Again, he supported me in my applications, with regular Teams meetings. Without the support and encouragement from Rob, I would not have been successful – I owe my passion in learning technology to him.”

Rachel James, Director of Teaching and Learning at the College, added:

“The College is addressing the digital skills gap and digital poverty by investing in our digital offer. We have been awarded Microsoft Showcase status, introduced a Discover Digital programme and have invested in the refurbishment of our SciTech campus into a new Digital Innovation Hub.

“The MIEE program allows us to enhance the development of digital skills for our students and the wider Barnsley community. We are using this status to develop digital skills within the sector and we share good practice amongst the teaching staff. I would like to congratulate Rob on his award and recognise the amazing work from the whole College team who are on their digital transformation journey.”

More people Discover Digital

Barnsley College has delivered the second event as part of its Discover Digital initiative to improve digital skills in Barnsley and the wider community.

Discover Digital is a programme of events aimed at supporting Barnsley College students and staff, local schools, the education sector and the public to develop their use of digital technology. The theme of this online event was EcoTech where attendees had the chance to hear from industry experts and find out how the use of technology can help them to become more sustainable.

The EcoTech event began with a keynote speech from David Malsom, Group Leader for Housing and Energy at Barnsley Council, where he talked about their sustainable energy plan. David’s presentation was followed by talks from industry leaders who discussed a range of subjects including how electric vehicles will impact careers, how innovators are using technology to minimise the carbon footprint of their work, transforming the fashion industry from linear to circular economy to become more sustainable, and how to use technology to drive the renewable energy revolution.

Rachel James, Director of Teaching and Learning at Barnsley College, said: “We are extremely proud of our Discover Digital programme, which is part of our commitment to promoting and facilitating digital innovation to our staff, students, and the wider community. This event was a great way for attendees to hear from experts about the impact technology has in helping to become more sustainable.

“We were thrilled to be joined by so much talent in the digital sector who are supporting Discover Digital and are delighted to be able to offer this opportunity to Barnsley College students and staff, the local community and the wider education sector.”

Speakers at the EcoTech event were:

  • David Malsom, Barnsley Council
  • Olly Mount, Green Alliance
  • Eliot Smith, Pro-Moto
  • Janet Nakonechna, ReGain
  • Chris Pearson, Barnsley College
  • Ben Haddock and Anne Scrimshaw, Sandwell College
  • Dominic Bellamy, Octopus Energy

The next Discover Digital event will take place on Tuesday 19 October, 1.00pm-3.00pm and will focus on Digital Inclusion.  

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