The enforced shift to remote and online working and studying caused by the pandemic is the springboard for a new project aimed at realising the potential of technology to benefit the further education (FE) sector now and into the future.
Driven jointly by Jisc, and the Association of Colleges (AoC), the project is called shaping the digital future of FE and skills. It will bring together college leaders, teachers, students, sector bodies and edtech experts.
The group will research, collate and share the best examples of innovative teaching, learning and assessment practice demonstrated during the pandemic crisis and establish a consensus on what “good” looks like in a transformed learner and staff experience ready for the reopening of campuses.
It will also look at the impact on staff as well as students, the requirements for good leadership in a digital age, cover business operations and identify funding and service needs.
To kickstart the process, Jisc and the AoC is arranging a series of webinars and virtual roundtable discussions between now and August which will lead to detailed research-led actions in the autumn.
Based on the findings, a short series of reports will be published - the first due in July which will highlight some of the best emerging practices to help FE leaders navigate the coming months of uncertainty and change.
Jisc’s MD for FE and skills, Robin Ghurbhurun, says:
“Jisc and the AoC share a belief in a transformed ‘digital first’ FE sector. While some colleges are well into this journey, others have yet to start, but all have made great efforts over the last few weeks to enable ‘emergency’ remote learning. Now is the time to build on that achievement.
“But first, we need to understand what has worked and what hasn’t, the expectations of staff and students and the aims and challenges for FE leaders now and into the future.
“In the short term we will focus on gathering the best of emerging practice, in order that we can equip college leaders with what they need to affect full-scale digital transformation for staff, learners and estate.
“Crucially, we’ll also be examining priorities for funding. We hope that the evidence collected by this research project will encourage government investment in digital technologies across the FE sector.”
Chief executive of AoC, David Hughes, says:
“COVID-19 has seen colleges go through rapid digital transformations as they moved their learning online. Those efforts to take teaching and learning online have been incredible and look set to continue into the next academic year and beyond as colleges and students start to come to terms with the need for social distancing for some time to come.
“This research will help colleges understand what is working, how they can evolve current practice into solutions for the future and share successes. As a sector, colleges are facing enormous challenges to engage and support students through these uncertain times. This research will help them rise to the challenge.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that this shift in delivery will change the sector forever and affect all areas of college business. We must be ready to give learners the tools and skills for the future and edtech will be a major part of rebuilding and reengaging students as the country recovers from the pandemic.”
The first webinar is being held on 15 June, focusing on the learner experience. For more information and to sign up, visit the event page.
Jisc has also launched a similar project for the higher education sector, called learning and teaching re-imagined.