Digital Educators

An ETF funded OTLA Digital Project

The drive to achieve Outstanding Teaching Learning and Assessment

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Who are we, what are we doing and why?

This project is a collaboration between Gateshead College, North Tyneside Council Adult Learning Alliance and YMCA. It brings together a college with ‘outstanding’ status and significant strength in the delivery of ICT/digital media with community and local authority providers who are successfully accessing hard to reach learners and learners with complex needs.

Our aim:

  • To train 15 Digital Educators to lead and inspire teams of staff
  • To embed Digital Educators in delivery teams and training environments as a resident resource
  • To provide opportunities for vocational staff to extend their professional roles as digital educators

What do we hope to achieve?

Through a series of face-to-face training sessions and remote individualised support we look to encourage all participants to consider the rationale of why digital technologies are being used in their practice. In addition we would like to study how such implementation can have an impact on the learning process and the learners.

Our outcomes:

  • Enable staff to extend their digital technology skills in curriculum planning, curriculum development, and delivery
  • Enable staff to demonstrate improved understanding of the role of digital technology in extending inclusive learning opportunities
  • Enable staff to develop their skills in leading formal and informal professional development sessions for their teaching peers
  • Enable staff from a range of providers to collaboratively investigate and address local issues through use of digital technology
  • Provide a career-development opportunity for established vocational professionals
  • Enable managers and leaders to deploy appropriate digital resources

Additional outputs:

  • Participants to achieve a Level 4 Award in Digital Learning for Educators
  • A forum created for practitioners to share practice beyond the lifetime of the project

How is it going?

Things that have worked well to date

Using a ‘post it note’ exercise and asking the question ‘Would that activity be better if technology had been used?’ helped to underpin that technology should be used to enhance the learner experience and not just as a tick box process. This exercise then linked to the '3 Big Questions' activity (link below to Padlet wall) used to share opinions and introduce discussion points.
Gaining an understanding of different workplace practices allowed discussions to take place, identifying where additional support is required and what is in our control/influence or where possible external support would need to be sourced.
Full day training dates dedicated for project participants to attend allows focused time to be spent on personal development in context to own practice. Introduction of new technologies such as Google Expeditions encourages a new way of thinking about how learners can access content in a non traditional manner, for example, SEN learners visiting historic places without the need to arrange travel etc.
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Establishing a face to face and extended forum for the less developed partners has allowed more collaborative and shared practice to be disseminated across organisations.
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  • Sharing practice between practitioners and organisations who have introduced an element of digital to a traditional non-digital classroom and the impact it has had.
  • What have we learned? Our challenges

    In the world of learning not everything goes to plan, it's what we do to overcome the obstacles that is important.

    Development of a VLE to be used to support participants relies on engagement from participants. VLEs are only useful tools if they are used effectively. Questions we need to ask ourselves includes:

    • Why are participants not accessing the VLE?
    • What can we do differently to ensure they do going forward?

    Planning of content for training days as a response to previous learning.

    Support between sessions not always timely. This delay can impact on scheduled training or can minimise how well the training can be adapted to fit the individual participant. Questions we need to ask ourselves includes:

    How can we move forward from this and ensure we gain the best from the main training days?

    How can we better plan to provide specific support required outside of training days?

    Clear message of roles and expectations needs to be shared and understood by all involved. A reminder of the project focus, it's aims and outcomes should be at the forefront of what we do, not the possible outputs.

    Measuring Impact

    Were our objectives achieved?

    Looking forward

    Next steps...

    Rolling out a model of CPD within organisations to up-skill staff and embed technology into TLA.

    Continued conversations via:

    • social media @joannemillsGC @E_T_Foundation #OTLA #OTLADigital #digitalETF
    • North East Professional Exchange Network

    For further information about this project

    You can read more about this project on the Excellence Gateway at

    or watch the video of our presentation at the OTLA (North East & Cumbria) final dissemination event, which was held at Ramside Hall, Durham in December 2018, by clicking on the button below