Organised by the Association of Colleges (AoC), the annual awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among UK FE and sixth form colleges.
Announced on 14 November, the winner was chosen for its Curious and Creative project. This involved providing all full time 16 to 18-year-old students with iPads, creating a sophisticated yet personalised learning experience. It improved the digital literacy of learners, raised attendance by 6% and boosted enrolment from 900 to 1,400.
The project was combined with a radical change to the college timetable, redesigned learning spaces, high density wifi across the campus and the ability to mirror iPads to classroom projectors and large-format display screens. The result was an anytime, anywhere learning culture and new, engaging, interactive, opportunities for active learning and teaching, improving one-to-one support, assessment and feedback.
The judges were impressed by the college’s focus to become a more digitally capable institution, continuously focusing on improving the delivery of the curriculum and focusing on how students learn in the 21st century.
Among the judges was Jisc’s head of FE and skills, Paul McKean, who said:
“Portsmouth College’s approach to the implementation of iPads for each full-time learner is an excellent example of how the effective use of technology can transform pedagogy and improve learning outcomes.
“The use of iPads is embedded across the curriculum and well supported by the college management team. There are a number of examples of exemplary practice where the use of the iPads and supporting technologies are enhancing learning, motivating learners and improving the quality of teaching.
“One particular example that stuck out was the engagement and motivation to learn shown by those in an English GCSE resit class, even during the first few weeks of term. Every learner was immersed in learning, communicating in small groups verbally and via a shared document on their iPads, while each group’s work was also being simultaneously shared via a projector with the whole class. This enabled the class tutor to instantly identify when groups needed support and opportunities to highlight to the whole class either areas for improvement or good learning points.
“The blend of the tutor’s face-to-face interaction with the groups and the whole class and the learners’ use of technology was seamless and complementary. It is pleasing to note that the college’s success rate for English GCSE resits is 72%, which puts it in the top 10% nationally, suggesting this type of delivery is impacting on learning outcomes.”
Harlow College, the runner up in this category, also use iPads for each learner and teaching staff. It invested heavily in its digital infrastructure, including campus wifi to run 3,000 devices simultaneously and established a mobile device management system. The college submission said:
“We changed the curriculum structure and our modes of teaching, learning and assessment to better prepare people for their digital future and adapted learning spaces. Our initiative has resulted in the improvement in the quality of teaching, learning and assessment and a technology enriched curriculum. Predicted pass rates have increased by 7.4% to 96%.
Paul McKean described it as “an excellent example of how to achieve a major cultural shift in teaching and learning through the use of technology”. He continued:
“The iPads are used across the curriculum and it is pleasing to see that all the teaching staff are engaged and enthusiastic about the initiative. They have embraced the opportunities to improve both their personal technology skills as well as their skills in teaching, learning and assessment. Students are highly motivated by the style of learning that takes place and, as a result, there has been an impact on learning outcomes.
“The sponsorship of this award highlights our commitment to digital transformation in post-16 education. Colleges provide high-quality technical and academic training and education to around 2.2 million people each year. The innovative approaches they use make a real different to students, employers and communities.”