Steven Hope is Head of Independent Learning at Luminate Education Group which includes Leeds City College, University Centre Leeds, Leeds Sixth Form College, Keighley College, Harrogate College, Leeds College of Music and the White Rose Academies Trust. Steven’s role involves looking at technology enhanced learning and the digital capabilities of both staff and students at the three FE colleges. The main focus is extending learning beyond the classroom but also developing students’ skills around being independent learners, both inside and outside of the classroom – skills like creativity, critical thinking, curation of information, communication and collaboration, both face to face and online.
Yes, but it’s very much focused on learning not technology. We have a big driver for using technology because we have a holistic focus on teaching and learning beyond the classroom and beyond the colleges. We use Google for Education as our glue, it’s our main platform. We develop our staff to have the understanding, the capability and the knowledge to use digital tools, not just Google, so they can empower their students in and out of the classroom.
We have advanced practitioners who specialise in technology enhanced learning. They mentor, coach, develop and train staff around enhancing and developing their teaching using technology. We also have ‘navigators’ who are the go-to people for immediate help.
Yes, we see Enhance as a ‘go-to tool’ that staff can use as and when they need to. Mentors can then guide staff using that tool. It provides a great way of enhancing what we’re already doing around developing staff’s digital capabilities. We’ve been using it as a pilot with about 15 staff and will be rolling it out across the Group.
We see the Enhance training modules not as standalone units but as tasters for topics and then our advanced practitioners can tailor bespoke programmes round those topics for different members or groups of staff, going into more detail about relevant tools and pedagogic development.
We’ve been involved in piloting the Management Dashboard, which has been really useful for tracking how staff are progressing. We think the reporting facilities will be useful for line managers to see what progress their staff are making so they can recognise and celebrate their progress. We encourage staff to pursue their own professional development interests as lifelong learners, and the Enhance training fits with this.
I also see Enhance as providing a great opportunity for flipped learning for staff, just like for students. So when a member of staff has a meeting with a mentor or an advanced practitioner, they can be guided to look at a particular training module to ensure they’ve had a chance to look at the topic in advance before we analyse and evaluate it in more detail in the meeting.
Yes, we’re planning to use the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform with our teacher trainers and our PGC students this year as a tool. I sit in the teaching and learning directorate alongside the Head of Digital Learning and the Head of Teacher Training, so we have a good shared understanding across the directorate about the role of technology. We understand that, for teachers starting their career, technology is no longer a niche, it’s there to enhance learning. It may not be a magic wand, but used effectively in the right contexts it can be a game changer with some of the students they are going to be coming across, especially in further education, and we have seen that. A massive strength of the colleges is using technology to enhance learning.
We have a massive demographic of students from areas of significant deprivation. They will have barriers to overcome, sometimes they struggle to get in because they have care responsibilities. Our challenge is how can we extend learning beyond the classroom for those learners that need it. That’s why it’s so critical that our staff develop their digital skills – and the Enhance platform is part of achieving this for us – because if they can’t use technology to enhance learning, our students are going to miss out on learning.
Further details are available on the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform Management Dashboard pages.