Teesside University has taken a distinctive approach to learning and teaching, addressing the demanding labour market. The Future Facing Learning (FFL) strategy plays a pivotal role in the University’s Digital Transformation agenda to empower our graduates with 21st Century skills and knowledge to thrive in the professional world.
The initiative saw over 3000 first year full time undergraduate students receive an Apple iPad, preloaded with the FFL Toolkit, a suite of essential learning tools with Office 365 at the heart of it. In preparation to embed the use of the device and the toolkit within learning and teaching, over 400 academic staff participated in Phase 1 of the Digital Development Programme (DDP). This innovative CPD offer aligned with the Jisc Digital Capability Framework and mapped to the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) scheme supports academic staff, providing a platform for active pedagogic discourse to consider the digital skills and knowledge students will need in the future.
Aligned to the theme of ‘learning technology for wider impact’, the session reflects on the FFL strategy delivering learning technology at scale and its impact on pedagogical practices. The session will also discuss its unique commitment to digital empowerment of both staff and students.
Digital capability forms a critical success factor in the future workplace. In this increasing digital world, students today must be equipped with a wider skill set that would give them a competitive edge in a globally connected workplace. Students must be agile and adapt to “shifting labour market requirements and fast-changing developments in technology” (Jisc, 2019).
The strategy actively promotes the use of digital technology to aid student learning both inside and outside of the classroom. Laurillard et al. (2009) suggests that digital technology is not merely for knowledge transmission but to enable students utilise technology for intellectual expression and production. Since its implementation, there’s increasing efforts to engage in active learning, integrating the device and toolkit in facilitating students to produce content, communicate and collaborate more effectively. Staff are diversifying their curriculum delivery, embedding real-world problems, widening opportunities for reflective practices and more importantly looking into building lifelong learning skills.
Digital empowerment is the ‘golden thread’ in this process. The strategy is investing in driving staff and students’ desire to learn and enhance their digital capabilities. An array of coaching and masterclasses provide the platform for staff to engage in pedagogical and technical discussion with their peers and the Digital Learning Team, building a community of practice. Following their MIE, staff are supported in achieving their MIE Expert (MIEE) status. Equally, students are presented with opportunities to earn Microsoft certifications through the Imagine Academy pathway, empowering them with the necessary digital skills and the ability to assimilate emerging technologies throughout their careers.
Although Teesside has taken a strategic institutional approach to FFL, the initiative is not without challenges. From its initial launch, the team has taken agile approach to continuously reflect and evaluate the project from a multifaceted perspective, including streamlining the Phase 2 delivery of the programme, scaffolding staff learning and dealing with technical and practical issues.
This session will provide an insight to colleagues who are working towards delivering digital technologies at scale. It will discuss key lessons learnt, and the evaluation strategies in this significant digital empowerment journey, leading Teesside into the future.
Jisc. (2019). Digital capability and employability. [online] Available at: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/designing-learning-and-assessment-in-a-digital-age/digital-capability-and-employability [Accessed 06 Mar. 2019].
Laurillard D., Oliver M., Wasson B., Hoppe U. (2009) Implementing Technology-Enhanced Learning. In: Balacheff N., Ludvigsen S., de Jong T., Lazonder A., Barnes S. (eds) Technology-Enhanced Learning. Springer, Dordrecht