How the ETF's digital strategy, framework and free learning modules support and develop the FE workforce

Vikki Liogier, Head of Learning Technologies at the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), talks about how the ETF’s Digital Teaching Professional Framework, EdTech strategy and the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform will help the Further Education (FE) and Training sector workforce develop and innovate using technology.

The ETF are the sector-owned workforce development body and the guardians of professional standards for the FE sector. We are committed to supporting the FE workforce to gain the skills needed given the growing importance of digital skills. This has led ETF to developing initiatives and services to help change the sector’s perception of new technologies and promote the use of digital to enhance teaching, learning and assessment.

It is becoming widely recognised that digital skills and pedagogy are closely interlinked, however, there is no sole solution or silver bullet for improving learner outcomes. Advances in technology have changed learner mindsets with many increasingly adopting a “butterfly” approach to learning, moving across a range of resources to gather information as and when it’s needed. Teachers and trainers can utilise new technologies to make lessons more engaging and relevant. Learners live in an increasingly digital world and this is the same for the work place they will enter making it important for teachers, trainers and assessors to be supported in exploring, adopting and taking a lead on using new technologies to aid student learning.

In the Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP’s speech at the launch of the Bett Show 2019, the Education Secretary outlined new plans to launch a government EdTech strategy later this year. The plan will aim to harness the power of technology in schools and colleges, strengthening the training teachers receive, reducing their workload, and unleashing young people’s potential.

The ETF’s EdTech Strategy

In spring 2018, the ETF published its own EdTech Strategy with a mission statement:

To inspire and support teachers, trainers, leaders and governors in the Further Education and Training sector in building skills, understanding and confidence in using new technologies to enhance the learners’ journey and maximise personal, organisational and learner outcomes.

This strategy is about how the ETF can best support the FE sector in harnessing new technologies to maximise learning outcomes – it is a three-year road map for digital technology to ensure excellence in teaching, learning and assessment. The strategy includes the strategic priority to develop an EdTech Competency Framework.

What does good use of technology looks like?

In November 2018, the ETF launched that framework in the shape of the Digital Teaching Professional Framework (DTPF). The DTPF helps to define what “good” looks like and what digital skills progression means in three stages of personal development:

  • Stage 1: Exploring – practitioners assimilate new information and develop basic digital practices.
  • Stage 2: Adopting – practitioners apply their digital practices and expand them further.
  • Stage 3: Leading – practitioners pass on their knowledge, critique existing practice and develop new practices.

Stage 3 refers to innovation in teaching practice. The framework is therefore concerned with innovating using technology and the steps that lead up to innovation.

The full version of the DTPF is designed to be used mainly by leaders, managers and HR professionals. It will provide a foundation for professional development plans, so could be used as part of a staff development approach and strategically as part of a digital skills strategy. There is a shortened version of the framework more suited for use by mainstream practitioners, which will include the most immediately useful competences.

Need for quality and effective digital CPD and training

Being able to deliver high quality teaching and training in a digitally savvy way is an ever-important part of today’s pedagogical toolkit . A sector-wide Training Needs Analysis survey undertaken by the ETF in 2017 which collected the perspectives of over 400 institutions and more than 2,300 teachers, trainers, leaders and assessors, flagged up that training related to digital technologies was the third most frequent area of unmet demand in the sector. A recent article for TES by Peter Kilcoyne, ILT Director at Heart of Worcestershire College for TES, argues that there is often too much reliance on one or two digital enthusiasts and there is a real need to provide quality digital training and effective CPD programmes to build staff confidence in this area.

The Enhance Digital Teaching Platform – the free digital practitioner learning and development tool

To affirm and support teachers, trainers and assessors in using technology, the ETF has launched the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform. The ETF’s focus has been on how technology can help teachers and trainers in their current professional practice, develop their understanding of how to redefine their pedagogic approaches with learning technologies in line with the DTPF. We are confident that the free training modules for practitioners will make a real difference in the classroom, workshop and laboratory and ultimately the learning experience and employability outcome of the learners.

Training modules are compact, easy to access anytime, anywhere, on any device, and are linked to digital achievement badges at the three stages of personal development set out in the DTPF – Exploring, Adopting, Leading. The digital badges can be used to share progress and achievement on social media and can be added to a LinkedIn profile or a CV as evidence of competency.

Modules cover topics including using digital technologies to share and exchange practice, supporting and guiding learners using a Virtual Learning Environment, collaborating with learners synchronously, and digital well-being. New modules are being added at regular intervals to give 40 different modules available for use by the end of March. With features such as sharing, liking and feedback, the service helps build a community of practice.

Joining up sector developments

Both the framework and the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform help to align initiatives and professional standards across the sector. The DTPF was built in collaboration with Jisc – a not-for-profit organisation which provides digital solutions for UK education and research. It is mapped to the Jisc Digital Capabilities framework and ETF’s Professional Standards and draws on the EU Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators. Jisc has recently updated their FE and Skills Teacher profile in line with DTPF and is working towards aligning their Discovery tool for digital skills self-assessment so that users can navigate directly to relevant Enhance Digital Teaching Platform resources. To ensure the framework and platform are accepted as the direction of travel for the sector, it is vital that key digital experts were involved at the very start.

Have your say on if and how you use technology in your role

The ETF is asking the FE sector workforce whether you use technology in your teaching, learning and assessment. Our short survey focuses on if and how technology is used and wider perceptions on the use of technology in FE roles. Please help the ETF to help the profession by completing the technology usage and perception survey by midnight on Tuesday 12 March 2019.

The findings will help the ETF to gain a better understanding of what is happening in the sector around technology now. The aim is to follow up in future to find out what, if anything, has changed in relation to technology use.

More information on the Education and Training Foundation’s EdTech Strategy, Digital Teaching Professional Framework, and Enhance Digital Teaching Platform can be found on the ETF website.

On Wednesday 27 February 2019, Vikki Liogier and Dawn Buzzard, Learning Technology Adviser at the Education and Training Foundation, are hosting a free live webinar at 4.15pm and a webchat at 8.00pm on using the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform. To sign up to the webinar visit the Society for Education and Training (SET) website. To find out how to join the webchat visit the SET webchat page for this event.

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