#EdTechStories: Fionna Mortimer

Fionna Mortimer is Head of Department for a busy adult only training centre, part of the EKC Group, which offers personalised learning courses for careers in IT and Digital industries and building services. Fionna has been using the ETF’s Enhance Digital Teaching Platform for her own and her staff’s personal development in use of educational technology (EdTech) and is now playing a key role in developing the EdTech community of practice on the platform.

The Eastchurch centre where Fionna is based operates 52 weeks of the year offering full-time courses up to Level 3. Many of the learners who use the centre have previously not engaged well with education. Fionna’s team also supports learners from the nearby Category D prison, as well as running a number of special projects, for example training people for entry into the rail industry.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the centre was forced to close for some of the time and Fionna jumped at the chance to undertake some CPD:

“I actually pencilled an allocation of time for CPD into my diary. I also wanted to look for specific CPD for staff to access to upgrade their digital skills. I think lockdown and the need to support remote learning made us all realise the value of learning about new techniques and digital tools. We just needed a starting point that was easy to access. I had come across the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform and thought it offered a good approach, so I introduced it to the staff. Now all the staff here are engaging with the training and the digital badges on the platform, working their way through the bite-size modules in the different categories. The digital badges are then uploaded to their college CPD record.”

Fionna likes the compact and lively style of the training modules as well as the digital badge recognition system.

“Even the little pictures and the links to other resources on the modules have been really useful. I’ve taken a lot of those and used them for other training. The encouragement of the digital badges popping up when you have completed training is also great. Everyone appreciates some encouragement. I still put a smiley face on when feeding back to my adult learners and it still works.”

Many of the tutors at the centre have also completed Microsoft Innovative Educator and Fionna sees the ETF training as complementary.

“The ETF EdTech training is more pedagogic, which is interesting, and the Microsoft training is practically focused. I think a blend of the two has really improved the skills that we’ve got down here.”

The EdTech modules on the Enhance platform are mapped against the Digital Teaching Professional Framework, the ETF’s EdTech competency framework, at three levels of competence – Exploring (Introductory), Adopting (Intermediary) and Leading (Advanced). This allowed Fionna to signpost staff with different levels of EdTech experience to modules appropriate for them, including stretch and challenge modules for the most experienced tutors. Fionna introduced the Enhance training in one-to-one progress reviews, focusing on modules in the Accessibility category for some staff and modules about digital tools for others. After the initial introduction, Fionna has found that she doesn’t need to set any further training as staff have started to pursue their own CPD interests on the platform.

The team has already started applying learning from the Accessibility category.

At the same time, Fionna has been progressing her own EdTech CPD on the platform, completing modules, trying out ideas from the training and sharing her reflections on applying the learning with fellow practitioners on the #EdTechSwap Awarded Practice Wall as part of gaining two- and three-star digital badges. Once familiar with sharing reflections and resources on the platform, she decided to apply to become a ‘Super Contributor’ with responsibility for regularly commenting on other practitioners’ reflections to help build a pedagogic dialogue.

Fionna understands the value of constructive feedback because of her experience as an assessor:

“We do visit other colleges but with Covid we haven’t been able to send the staff as often as possible to look at good practice elsewhere – so by sharing through an online community of practice like the #EdTechSwap Awarded Practice Wall on Enhance, it’s far more accessible. I don’t have to lose a tutor for the day, and you can see what’s going on out there. If you see somebody else doing something that’s good practice, it often inspires you to investigate further, and I’ve found that to be invaluable.”

Fionna is now planning to become an EdTech Reviewer on the Enhance platform, helping to review submissions by other practitioners for digital badges. Her training with an ETF mentor will commence in September.

“I’ve been accepted by the ETF to become a Reviewer on the platform. Again, because I’m experienced at giving feedback, it’s the natural next step so I was interested to find out about it. I’m always engaging in the next step and moving on.

“I really, really believe that the digital enhancement is vital for people’s success in the future. Every job includes digital skills and as teachers, tutors, lecturers, we need to know what’s available so we can support people.”

Find out more by visiting the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform.