Learning spaces and communities - creating a post-covid-19 EdTech strategy

On Friday 10 July 2020, the Association of Colleges published a new eBook on ‘Creating a post-Covid19 EdTech Strategy‘ which brings together wisdom and lessons learnt from lockdown learning.

Funded by the Ufi VocTech Trust, the eBook uses a series of insightful articles, tackling the biggest issues for lecturers, students and college leaders during lockdown. The new publication aims to make the case for serious investment into digital infrastructure to enable an education system fit for the ‘new normal’.

The ETF’s National Head of EdTech and Digital Skills, Vikki Liogier, features in the eBook with an article on ‘Learning Spaces and Communities – #ETFSupportsFE’. Read part of the article below:


Learning Spaces and Communities – #ETFSupportsFE

Learning is defined as “the process of gaining knowledge and skills through studying”, but our ability to study depends on several factors.

The psychologist will describe our ability to learn using an intrinsic lens, examining individual’s attitudes, intentions, motivation, confidence, needs and self-efficacy, while the sociologist will explore extrinsic correlations such as the socio-economic status (the way an individual structures perceptions, experiences, and practices based on their economic and cultural background) and the habitus that Bourdieu describes as the “internalisation of externality” process. The economist will consider the return on investment value of learning, measure its capital impact and argue its rationality.

Other factors such as age, gender, educational and skills attainment, employed or unemployed status, race and ethnicity will also affect our disposition to learning.

Learning is not only an individual concern; it is important to promote the ideal conditions to foster engagement. The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) developed the Enhance Digital Teaching Platform (EnhanceDTP) to meet this aim and offer clear EdTech and Digital Skills development pathways to educators. Both the platform and its programmes have been designed to remove barriers to engagement.

We adopted a user-centred design process to create an optimised user experience with a mobile first, adaptive and responsive design.

Content can be accessed cost-free and without a sign-up requirement. The simple navigation and bite-sized modules are a response to our time restrictions and 21st century immediacy mindset needs. The recognition badging structure promotes intrinsic motivation and rewards commitment to self- development. Technophobia is addressed by approaching EdTech from a pedagogic perspective, using educators’ language to build know-how. EnhanceDTP embraces a strong accessibility and inclusion ethos to widen participation and uses algorithms (AI) to personalise the learning experience.

The EnhanceDTP Management Dashboard was developed to assist Further Education (FE) organisations in accelerating their digital learning strategy and strengthening their workforce digital capability support framework. At an organisational level, however, there is a need to foster the right conditions to learning. Ellström (2001) explains that the workplace is no longer a site limited to production, but also “an environment where formal training and informal learning can be integrated”. The workplace is now assimilated as a generator of training opportunities and each organisation will differ in how they support and encourage learning with shared practices and mentoring, as well as innovative pedagogical approaches.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, the Enhance platform has witnessed a surge in usage with educators who are eager to explore new ways of teaching and supporting their learners remotely. As well as a balance between curriculum and pedagogy, there is a third essential consideration: technology as a tool to communicate, collaborate and make knowledge and skills stick.

The lockdown triggered change. It was inspiring and spectacular to see how educator communities came together to support one another and respond promptly to working and learning changes.

There was some awareness that new technologies could and were changing our lives, but Covid-19 has precipitated the use of virtual communication opportunities through webinars, discussion forums, chat rooms, social media and online applications offering synchronous and asynchronous collaboration opportunities. With this, came the realisation that communication and information technologies can facilitate access to inclusive learning from anywhere, at any time, and from any device. They offer an empowering set of interactive, creative and personalised tools to effectively engage with learners and support them to revisit, access, interact with and create content.

On the negative side, lockdown restrictions have exacerbated the social digital divide and the need for the country to effectively support change through entitlement to digital literacy as well as universal access to technology and the internet. Automation will continue to shift the future of work. National reskilling and up-skilling programmes must be rolled out to minimise the “Matthew Effect”, where the strongest individuals tend to participate more than those from disadvantaged groups. The technology revolution presents serious labour force and welfare concerns and government policies must address them seriously.

Read the full article in the Creating a post-Covid19 EdTech Strategy eBook, available to download.