Enhance Digital Teaching Platform: South West College

Fey Cole is a FE/HE Early Years Lecturer at South West College in Belfast and has recently gained a 2 Star EdTech Award from the Education and Training Foundation.

What is your experience of using technology to date?

We have a good Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which will now come into its own. We’ve already had some practice at full online learning; every year we do a virtual learning day when the students stay at home and are taught online. We do a lot of blended learning and project-based learning all the time and we’re now looking at virtual projects for students to work on.

Social media also has a big part to play for the students. I teach on the Early Years course and we’ve found that the way the students engage using technology has been a good showcase of their skills and professionalism.

How did you hear about the ETF’s Enhance Digital Teaching Platform?

I spotted tweets about it on social media and I met Vikki Liogier, the ETF’s National Head of EdTech and Digital Skills, at a Brewed FE event recently. I could see other people were interacting with it and I read a couple of case studies, which were really useful.

Why did you start to use the platform?

When I did a review of the CPD I’d undertaken over the past three years to identify the gaps, I could see that it was mainly focused on my subject. Nearly all my digital skills and use of technology was self-taught. I realised I needed to focus more on my digital skills. The training on the Enhance platform fitted in perfectly. It meant I could do training at my convenience, and because the training is set out in nice, small chunks, it’s easy to come back to.

Where did you start with the training?

I just wanted to try one module to start with, to see what the process was, so I picked one on Dealing with Difference and Diversity. It was really beneficial, very relevant to my own practice. We find there are a lot more students coming through now with a range of needs. This year we are focusing on our practice being as accessible as possible. It has challenges – for example, working with students with hearing loss, or those who are neurodiverse. I found the Enhance training really productive, suggesting new mechanisms for supporting them. The Further Resources list gave me new avenues for fresh ideas.

How did you find the training?

The training is so easy to access, the website is very straightforward. The digital award badges for completing modules and submitting reflections are simple, you can do them in a short period of time. The guidance about how to submit a reflection, is good. Because the reflection links directly to your work, it’s a natural process so it’s easy to do. When you submit a reflection on applying the training, you get external feedback. The level of detail in the feedback is really good. The whole process has been very productive, giving me the encouragement to go on to the next stage.

You’ve gained a 2 Star EdTech Award. What did you have to do?

The great thing is that it’s an interactive process. You apply the learning from the module, reflect on what you’ve been doing and submit your reflection, then you receive evaluative feedback. It enables you to check your understanding.

Why is the external feedback important?

It’s really valuable having someone external giving you feedback and finding out what other people are doing. You don’t often get that with CPD. You tend to go off and do training but there’s no subsequent interaction, unless you’re doing a long-term, formal qualification. Being able to do some quick and easy CPD and get external feedback when you apply the learning in practice is really valuable. I intend to go for the 3 Star award badge now, which entails creating and sharing a resource and a reflection.

How do you think the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform can help teachers like you?

There are going to be changes that come from the current home-working situation, there’s a lot of learning going on. We’re going to have to change the way we do things and the EdTech training on the Enhance platform could provide the right kind of support. This is a really good tool that you can work on from home. Also, through the digital award badges and the feedback you get, it gives you encouragement to think “I can achieve this, I’m managing to develop”.

Further details are available on the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform Management Dashboard pages.

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