Highlights from the Association of Colleges – JISC Technology Summit

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Education 4.0 – Paul McKean (Head of FE and Skills, JISC)

Paul McKean, the Head of FE and Skills at JISC, kicked off the Technology Summit by talking about the advance of “Education 4.0”. He said to expect to see Artificial Intelligence transforming teaching, more personalised and adaptive learning experiences, intelligent tutoring systems responding to the student journey and further developments in the Internet of Things. You can read more about his vision for the college of the future on the JISC blog: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/blog/what-does-the-fe-college-of-the-future-look-like-20-nov-2018

Michelle Swithenbank, CEO of Hull College Group

As the CEO of the Hull College Group, Michelle believes Senior Management should not ask others what they are not prepared to do themselves. Therefore, the College portal has been simplified and all USB sticks are banned! All staff have to use One Drive to save and share work and she has been been experimenting with vlogging in her communications. She even shares bloopers to demonstrate how normal it is to make mistakes as you update your digital skills. Her main interest is in promoting student engagement and supporting teacher efficiency and workload. They are also looking at getting their learning platform to speak to Promonitor.

Robin Ghurbhurun, Chief Executive and Principal, Richmond Upon Thames College

Robin explained that the curriculum needs to prepare students for future jobs and services. The advance of Artificial Intelligence should be giving us back our time to enjoy life. Other areas to watch include data analytics, cloud security, environmental and energy issues. We should also be reimagining our learning spaces. One example is a Virtual Reality lab as he believes the art of storytelling is becoming increasingly important for education. In order to engage SMT, innovators should consider taking “the board on tour” to tech companies and organising a staff conference with a technology theme.

Kirri Gooch, Google for Education

Kirri, the Regional Education Manager at Google for Education, says that innovation cannot be forced. People need physical spaces to be curious and play. Work routines need to be broken up. For instance at Google, they have a “TGIF” (thank God it’s Friday) event once a week. She also recommends “learning on the loo” by providing tips on posters! Encouraging a culture of collective creativity and risk-taking in a safe environment is key. Ideally, 20% of a job role should leave room for an area of interest (whatever that might be) and teachers need to be recognised, rewarded and taken on trips outside of their institution. Kirri highly recommends finding an influencer in SMT to support this.

Steven Hope, Head of Independent Learning, Leeds City College

Steven believes that technology won’t replace teachers but teachers who use technology will. At Leeds City College, they want technology to be the rule not the exception. They also look at money-saving strategies. For instance, Leeds City College saved £750,000 by switching to Google Classroom and by reinvesting in chromebooks, they saved £1.55 million.

When it comes to staff development, Steve listed 4 personality types:

Navigator - empowered
Bystander - ignores
Victim - panics
Critic - opposes
  1. Navigator – empowered
  2. Bystander – ignores
  3. Victim – panics
  4. Critic – opposes

It is challenging engaging the hard adopters! Steven aims to differentiate his training, make it fun and vary access methods between online, face to face and blended. He recommends asking staff what they want and when and not to be afraid to try things out. For instance by offering short blasts of show and tell, designing microtech sessions and bitesize tutorials at the end of day. It is important that trainers use the tools in their delivery. They have also created a Google Site full of how to videos. Steven said it also helps to reward staff and take them on trips to tech companies.

Manolis Mavrkis, UCL Knowledge Lab

Manolis spoke about Artificial Intelligence in Education and current developments in learning analytics and intelligent tutoring systems. He discussed dialogue and conversational agents, guided discovery with interactive feedback and help provision, dashboards which collect and summarise learning data, teacher assistance tools for supporting classroom dynamics such as seating charts which are colour coded to flag up students falling behind and dynamic grouping proposals. These tools will augment the teacher’s role to support student progress.

Alex Beard, Learning Revolution

The writer of “Natural Born Learners”, Alex Beard, says that we need to ask how we can best mass produce an individualized form of education? The focus should shift from how much we learn to how we learn. He believes humans will stay ahead of machines because of our ability to create and that once we have established the foundations, we should be developing creativity, critical thinking and big thinking in our learners.

The parts of the human brain which matter will be the frontal cortex: the desire to practise and the freedom to play and the part where divergent thinking and connections take place. The best kindergartens know that learners need passion, to connect with others and time to play. At “42”, a private coding school in Paris, there are no teachers and instead students are expected to solve real-world problems in industry. Students are given skills to learn for themselves. These include perseverance, creativity and resilience.

In terms of technology, Beard argues that having a computer assistant can actually limit learning. If digital learning is too user-friendly, it can encourage laziness and automation in devices can shrink parts of the brain. Beard says that teachers are more important than ever. Technology should be used to augment this very human profession, while teachers will need to focus on becoming better psychologists with deeper subject knowledge.

Ofsted – Chris Jones, FE & Skills

Chris Jones introduced the new Inspection Framework for Ofsted. The four main questions they will be asking about learning will be:

  • What
  • How
  • Why
  • Impact

It will be useful to think about how technology fits into this framework. Chris Jones discussed some strategies.

In terms of quality of education, we need to ensure we plan curricula which is fit for purpose and meets the needs for employment and enterprise in the local community. Staff will need an understanding of pedagogy and how learners learn differently using technology. Employability should be considered through the development of digital skills and flexibility. Respect should be built through exposure to diverse communities and encouraging the questioning of sources. “British Values”, Citizenship and Careers Guidance should be embedded in enrichment activities. Evidencing provision for SEN and safeguarding will be a crucial consideration for management.

In addition, Ofsted will be looking for evidence of measures taken to alleviate staff stress and promote well-being, for instance, by investing in technology which reduces workload. Of course, the student experience will remain a priority as well as demonstrating impact on learning.

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