Call for EdTech Reflective Explorations

Expressions of interest 2021-22

Thank you for your interest in the ETF EdTech  Reflective Exploration call. Expressions of interest are no longer being accepted and applicants will be updated soon regarding the status of their application.

Research Projects: Improving EdTech teaching and learning skills through engagement with the ETF Enhance Digital Teaching Platform (DTP) modules and badging scheme.


To support practitioners in improving their use of technology in teaching and assessment, the EdTech team at the ETF has developed a range of bite-sized online modules mapped to the Digital Teaching Professional Framework (DTPF), the national EdTech competency framework.

Enhance modules have so far been developed in four categories:

These are available at three stages of personal development:

  • Exploring
  • Adopting
  • Leading

To complement this offer, a badge scheme has been launched that aims to motivate teachers and trainers to critically reflect on the impact the modules have had on their practice and learners. The scheme also encourages practitioners to post their reflections and to develop and share teaching and learning resources on the EdTech Awarded Practice Wall.

Recently, the EdTech team have promoted the opportunity for practitioners who have already engaged with the scheme to become Super Contributors – practitioners who will help foster an online community of practice by stimulating pedagogic dialogue on the Awarded Practice Wall – and Reviewers who will assess EdTech programme badge submissions.

View previous EdTech Reflective Explorations

Hybrid learning

The recent Covid-19 crisis removed us from our comfortable learning context and forced us to explore new teaching and learning approaches facilitated by digital. 2020, while being challenging, was a learning and collaborative year.

We all discovered new ways to interact virtually, whether with people or content. We learned by trying things out. Some worked, some did not, but what mattered was that we kept an open mind, we tried new things, we learned from our mistakes[1] and shared what we did well. Our mindset shifted to that of explorers and collaborators.

We also discovered a new vocabulary for these new teaching approaches, such as “hybrid teaching” and “synchronous/asynchronous learning”.

While blended learning can take place synchronously, it is essentially asynchronous. It refers to the combination of both face-to-face and remote learning activities that are facilitated and enhanced through a range of technologies and methodologies. The blend lies in the tools, flexible times and spaces chosen to enhance the learning experience.

Hybrid learning is when learners are simultaneously attending the same delivery session from different learning spaces. Some learners will be physically in the classroom or workshop and others attending the training virtually, using different technologies and connectivity to join.

So, the question lies in how do we adapt our pedagogic approaches and devise learning activities so that each learners’ cohort from whatever space they join the training can engage in the session, developing both knowledge and skills. How can we optimise the differentiated learning experience of all learners?

It is clear from the definitions above that hybrid learning should also be blended.

As more asynchronous learning is “delivered with activities accompanied with clear instructions and structured in a logical manner”[2], “more time is freed up for synchronous interventions to focus on developing higher level skills and mentoring individual understanding, performance and progress”.[3] 

This presents a number of challenges, and we hope the Reflective Exploration projects will create safe space and time for FE colleagues to investigate further. 

[1] Compton, M., 2021. Free, easy and fit for purpose TEL; lessons learned the hard way by a non-IT whizz.

[2] Cheseldine, 2021. Moving a Course Online.

[3] Enhance Digital Teaching Platform. 2021. Asynchronous teaching and learning. [online] Available at: and-learning  [Accessed 6 April 2021].

Funding opportunity

The EdTech team has secured funding to support a number of short reflective explorations that will help teachers and trainers develop their digital skills through engagement with the EdTech badging and social media model.

Up to 6 projects will be funded and subsidised by the Department for Education and the opportunity is open to eligible organisations funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

We invite organisations to express their interest in conducting short, focused projects which aim to develop EdTech communities of practice within institutions and networks, through undertaking Enhance modules and engaging in pedagogic dialogue on the EdTech Awarded Practice Wall.

In this way, practitioners will become part of a growing community, driving improvement in online practice across the sector. There are also opportunities for participants who take part in the projects to become Enhance Super Contributors and/or Reviewers.

Our approach calls for groups of up to three practitioners in an institution or network to work collaboratively to improve their EdTech practice, typically by engaging in peer observation and critical reflection.

Participants will draw on their learning from one or more of the Enhance modules to improve a specific aspect of their practice.

They will subsequently submit applications for two-star badges that will encourage them to critically reflect on the impact of the learning on their practice as well as their learners. Practitioners will go on to apply for three-star badges by developing and sharing teaching and learning resources.

Practitioner groups will be supported by a Project Lead in their institution or network who will facilitate the research activity.

Project Leads will also be expected to undertake Enhance modules that are relevant to their role and to work towards two and three-star badges at Leading level. All projects will be supported by a mentor.

Support for projects by the EdTech Mentors

Project Leads in FE institutions will be supported by ETF EdTech Mentors to lead the projects within their institutions or network.

Participants will be expected to complete online surveys at the beginning and end of the project. They will also produce reflective diaries that will record their experience of working through the modules and improvements in their practice through engagement with the EdTech badging and social media model. There will also be a requirement to produce a short video clip that highlights the impact of their research.

The EdTech Mentors will collate these findings and produce online case studies to demonstrate the impact of changes in practice. These case studies will also help the Enhance team develop and improve the badge scheme for future participants.

The reflective exploration should focus on hybrid learning delivery within the themes proposed and listed below:

  • Engaging learners and maintaining your good mental health when delivering remotely.
  • BYOD and selecting appropriate technology tools.
  • Extending your digital skills and pedagogies to deliver in a hybrid setting.
  • Digital accessibility – where are you now and where do you want to be?
  • Digital differentiation in delivery and assessment.
  • Learning from others and fostering practitioner networks.

Anticipated engagement from organisation

ER Lead

Activities (RE)

Time for Project Lead

Time per Practioner

Inception 1 hour 1 hour
Meetings with Mentor (30minutes per week, Reflective explorations support and other activities) 10 hours 5 hours
Meetings all Teams / Participants 5 hours 5 hours
Reflective Exploration
Meetings RE Team 30mn/week 5 hours 5 hours
Attend 3 x 1hr training sessions with your mentor and 1hr induction to the Enhance Platform & Management Dashboard 4 hours 4 hours
Research Reflective Exploration (10 weeks only October to December) 20 hours 20 hours
Intermediary and Final EdTech RE – two reports in total 7 hours  
Short 1.5 minute video story / reflective exploration. 1 hour 1 hour
Proactively engage at least 1 new EdTech SWAP per week 5 hours 5 hours

Total hours

58 hours

46 hours

Total in days

8 days

7 days

Each organisation will need to (release/make available) one project lead and at least two practitioners for the duration of the grant, the suggested time commitments associated with this are outlined above.

Project participants commit to contributing to a video, podcast or similar medium (accompanied with portrait/avatar of practitioner) for the case study. The media produced will be no longer than 1.5 minutes and will consist of a reflection on the impact the project has had on their practice, their learners’ experience and potentially on their organisation.

Project funding and eligibility


The project is funded for the research to be completed by 17 December 2021.

We welcome participation from everyone who supports direct teaching (including teachers, trainers, learning support professionals, assessors, managers, administrative staff, employers and governors).

ESFA-funded providers are invited to submit expressions of interest to be included in the programme. Funding, worth up to £4,000 for each project, is available to cover remission for staff participation.

The Enhance Team is aiming to broaden the scope of FE organisations engaging in educational research. It should be noted, therefore, that any funding for this project will be prioritised for those organisations not currently in receipt of funding for ETF research project grants.

Please note, project funding cannot be spent on equipment or any other form of capital expenditure. An additional package of support (managed by the programme team) will cover coaching/mentoring and CPD. Funding will be distributed by the programme team directly to each participating organisation. Funding is available for a maximum of 6 projects.

Organisations wishing to submit proposals for funding should read the guidance before completing the online expression of interest form.

The online form must be completed and submitted by 11.59pm on Thursday 9 September 2021.

If you have any questions about registering an expression of interest, please e-mail Vikki Liogier.

Indicative timeline


Task name




Call for FE providers expression of interest
1 day Mon 16/08/21 Mon 16/08/21
Expressions of interest submitted
14 days Tue 17/08/21 Thu 9/09/21
Expressions of interest reviewed
5 days Fri 10/09/21 Mon 13/09/21
Successful applicants notified
1 day Tue 14/09/21 Tue 14/09/21
Project inception meetings
9 days Wed 22/09/21 Mon 04/10/21
Project scope and objectives agreed with ETF
1 day Mon 4/10/21 Mon 4/10/21
Enhance team deliver webinars to project participants
8 days Mon 4/10/21 Wed 13/10/21