Andy Dowell is Head of Innovation at MidKent College with responsibility for helping to develop the capability and performance of the college’s 600+ staff. MidKent is one of the largest further education and training providers in the south east, offering a wide range of provision including higher education and online courses. Andy is on a mission to develop the digital capabilities of the college’s workforce, starting with assessment of current skill and confidence levels against the Digital Teaching Professional Framework, the Education and Training Foundation’s competency framework.
I decided to start by testing the confidence of staff with digital skills. A majority of staff completed the assessment including the senior leadership team. It showed that 13% of our staff are digital leaders but 52% of our staff feel they are still beginners (Exploring). They do not have great confidence in their digital skills and this was confirmed by the competency test. Quite often in CPD programmes, it’s assumed that staff know how to use technology. Actually, as our assessment confirmed, many staff across the college are struggling with the basics, which is reflected across the sector.
I built an assessment tool based on the three development stages of the ETF’s Digital Teaching Professional Framework, the DTPF – Exploring, Adopting, Leading. In addition to the questionnaire about confidence levels we also gave staff questions about how they could use key systems used at the college – two at Exploring level, two at intermediary Adopting level and one at advanced Leader level.
We are delivering face-to-face bespoke training and creating support guides for the 60% of staff who need most support. The training is product-specific covering things like Microsoft Office products, understanding storage in the Cloud, ProMonitor and ProSolution. For those staff with greater confidence and skill levels, we are doing tailored training, including emerging technologies. I work within the HR team and we are now looking at digital capability from the recruitment stage, and we’re also making digital skills development part of induction with new staff, to support their onboarding.
We’re piloting use of the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform with our digital leaders at the moment before we encourage wider use. Next steps are to send recommendations for modules on the platform to different groups of staff. For example, we might ask a group of staff to complete the series of modules on digital wellbeing. The Enhance modules are fantastic for helping staff to think about how to technology can support their teaching or their daily tasks.
The management dashboard has already been helpful. It’s easy to use and we can see what modules staff are using. That will help us to target modules to meet individual needs and support staff progress. Going forward we’d like to benchmark our progress with digital skills CPD against other providers to see how we are doing compared to the sector as a whole – that’s something that we’ve suggested as a possible dashboard development.
Further details are available on the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform Management Dashboard pages.