The Edge Foundation (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Page: 2441 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-17939-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2020.0745
Conference name: 14th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2020
Location: Valencia, Spain
In a world immersed with technology it is undeniable to view its role in education. There are infinite benefits when technology is implemented effectively in a learning environment. Across the United Kingdom (UK) the Further Education sector (FE) has been shouldered with long-term struggles in teaching and learning due to the diminishing funding by the UK government put into vocational education and training (VET). Some challenges include teacher workforce recruitment and retention, engaging learning environments for 16-18-year olds and adult learners, and a breadth of provision and qualifications that make it difficult for students to navigate their options. Education technology (EdTech) can be part of the solution; when its potential is realised it can be fostered in ways that improve educational outcomes, develop digital skills among learners, reduce staff workload and foster creativity and innovation. The aim of this paper is to showcase how four FE colleges in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland that have used EdTech in their practices to provide learners with the necessary skills needed for local industries in the 21st century.

This research applied a case study methodology with qualitative methods of data collection across four colleges in the UK. The study took place across a period of four months. Semi-structured interviews were held with two to three members of the senior leadership team at each college and with up to 12 lecturers across different courses. Interviews with senior leadership members aimed to understand how and why a digital strategy was adopted across the college. Interviews with lecturers aimed to view their perceptions of using EdTech tools and strategies in their courses. Observations of facilities and EdTech tools across the college was the second method adopted for this research. A narrative analysis was applied to each case study to present a holistic understanding of how each college adopted EdTech in their teaching and learning.

The findings revealed that each college undertook a strategic decision to underpin their curriculum and operations with a whole digital strategy to improve all aspects of their work. Implementation of a digital strategy resulted in very creative initiatives across different VET courses, lecturers having reduced workloads due to new tools being utilised, providing a real-world learning experience for students and an improvement of digital capabilities across staff and students. However, a recurring barrier expressed by all colleges was the difficulty in convincing all lecturers to adopt EdTech in their courses due to their lack of confidence in using technology in the classroom. In conclusion, each college held different strategies in developing an empowered digital community for staff and students. This research has evidenced how EdTech can play a strong role in improving outcomes in further education colleges and suggests a future area of research to focus on mechanisms in building confidence among lecturers’ use of digital tools in teaching.
EdTech, Further Education, Vocational Education and Training, Digital Education.