Empowering education through global collaboration at Bradford College

Seima Mahmood
Monika Worthington

Community champion Seima Mahmood and colleague Monika Worthington have spearheaded a campaign to make digital learning more inclusive and collaborative for ESOL learners at Bradford College

Teenage girl studding at home. She is sitting at the table and using laptop for homework.

Since the global pandemic, the use of digital technology within education has continued to evolve, having a transformational impact on the ways in which we teach and learn.

As digital champions at Bradford College, we recognised that departments across campuses were operating at different stages of digital transformation, and as part of our mission to achieve Microsoft Showcase Status we wanted to support colleagues to learn more about the digital tools available to them, and to enhance collaboration.

To aid this we developed a Microsoft Teams site entitled “Go Digital.” The site allows staff to access digital training modules for topics such as AI and virtual learning, collaborate with peers across different subjects and departments, and share best practice to overcome challenges.

As digital confidence among colleagues grew, we encouraged members of our college community to take the next step and put themselves forward to achieve Microsoft Educator accreditation.

Within a year we went from only a handful of staff with this accreditation to 152 (100 Microsoft Educators, 40 Advanced Educators, 9 Innovative Educator Experts, and 3 Certified Educators) – a fantastic achievement that has only spurred staff on to do more in this space.

The most rewarding part of this project for us has been seeing how this improved digital literacy among staff has positively impacted students, especially those studying English for speakers of other languages (ESOL).

In 2022, Bradford College achieved Microsoft Incubator College status, a key part of our digital 2025 strategy. During the same year we launched the first phase of our Global Learning Project, an initiative designed to allow ESOL students from across the globe to take advantage of the amazing opportunities collaboration through digital learning can afford.

The project was launched across three colleges initially: Bradford College, Cardiff and Vale College in Wales and Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. P. Stalmacha in Poland. We had clear course aims from the start which included sharing best practice in teaching and learning, boosting cross-border collaboration, enhancing ESOL students' skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and improving the digital skills of learners.

All the Global Learning Project lessons were conducted through Microsoft Teams and used a combination of a hybrid model, flip learning and online and face-to-face learning, allowing students to effectively collaborate across topics based on real-life skills.

The 79 students involved in the first phase of the project were able to improve their confidence in using the English language, discuss issues and share concerns on several topics affecting them in real life, build long lasting relationships across borders, and – finally - enhance their digital literacy.

Due to the success of phase one, we were able to expand the project in 2023 to incorporate six colleges: Bağlica Şehit Kalener Özdemir Anatolian Religious High School in Turkey, Bradford College, Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. P. Stalmacha in Poland), Mircea cel Bătrân Secondary School in Romania, Norra Real High School in Sweden and Cardiff and Vale College in Wales, who were unfortunately not able to participate online due to a timetable clash. However, because of the accessible nature of the Global Learning Project course, students in Wales were still able to participate offline.

Phase two followed the same structure as phase one, with similar goals, but offered different session topics, focused again on real-life scenarios. We were able to make our lessons even more innovative through the use of interactive AI tools including edpuzzle, Padlet and Canva, boosting engagement and enhancing the student experience.

In total,139 students successfully completed phase two of the Global Learning Project, and we’ve just kicked off phase three, so watch this space.

Bradford is a vibrant and diverse city, and we’re proud to be able to help learners better integrate with their communities and improve their opportunities through ESOL.

In fact, we’re really proud of all our colleagues involved in Go Digital across the college who have supported us in our digital transformation journey. We recently hosted an in-house digital fair which covered topics such as digital accessibility, creative design, gamification and the use of AI tools in teaching and learning, which was received with enthusiasm from both staff and students, much to our delight.

We’re excited to continue this journey of digital transformation with our colleagues, learners and colleges across the sector, and we can’t wait to see where it takes us.

Further information

Visit our dedicated ‘get involved’ pages for more information on our communities of practice, and to join the conversation around digital transformation.

About the authors

Seima Mahmood
ESOL lecturer and Microsoft certified educator, Bradford College
Monika Worthington
Learning innovation lead, Microsoft certified educator and ESOL lecturer, Bradford College