I am the learning zone and e-learning manager at Deeside College. I work with an extremely dedicated group of people with a passion for taking the student forward and developing real world skills. The students too are a wonderful group, with varying needs and abilities – they have a real sense of fun and enjoyment whilst learning and many are surprising adept at using technology.
For me I see the greatest improvements in learners when they develop their own digital abilities and they are able to control their own use of technology.
As part of National Colleges Week I thought it might be useful to share with you a little about how we have not only improved our learners' digital literacy, but how us as teachers have also benefited too.
As teachers we were keen to break down barriers and increase access to IT and digital devices. We wanted to open up IT and not only help our students develop skills to benefit them in the future, but also to help us as educators develop new digital skills and understanding.
Having looked at some options the ‘In-folio’ project at Jisc TechDis appeared to be the ideal vehicle for channelling a digital literacy project. ‘In-folio’ is an e-portfolio developed specifically for students with learning needs; it was clear, adaptable and allowed significant flexibility in how it could be used.
For us it was important ‘in-folio’ fulfilled the needs of both our curriculum team and the students. When we were looking at this we were also introducing online Personal Learning Plans (PLP) across the college. In-folio allowed each learner to have their own PLP which could be a shared by the tutors, so ‘student goals’ could be identified and progress monitored during termly meetings.
The 'in-folio' system is now in use and over 150 student profiles are loaded onto tutor pages ready for rollout across a whole group of colleges in Wales who we have been working with. The students each create a personal profile with photographs and update information about their hobbies and interests. They create other tabs as their course requires and build up image collections, a 'scrap book' of images and photographs which they can then add to.
Another development is that our students now also work together with other colleges on a joint newsletter and create file which are uploaded to their ‘in-folio’ as evidence of their participation.
I’ve found it incredibly rewarding working together, contributing and using technology independently and creatively. Feedback in these early stages is very positive with ease of use highlighted again and again. This system removes barriers and allows students to own their development and develop their skills through this ownership – ultimately with some excellent results!