By Deborah Jones

We’re one week away from the start of the new semester again – where on earth did last year go?  There’s a buzz around campus and I’ve already found a few new students grappling with maps, wandering the rabbit warren of our corridors and I recall that nervous ping of excitement of beginning this brave new journey. That was me seven years ago, as I too completed my PGCE in Post Compulsory Education at Northumbria Uni!

Whilst preparing the induction for the new year one cohort for out PCET PGCE/ DipHE students, I am reflecting on the summer and how busy our team have been grappling with a new online evidence based learning tool and programme.  Conversations about enhancing digital learning within HE and FE had already begun within our team as news of the FELTAG (Further Education Learning Technology Action Group) recommendations were being filtered through institutions and then echoed as the buzzword throughout the country at almost every Further Educational conference. The recommendations highlighted the expectations and fundamental need of learners within Further Education to have access to digital learning.

I had already had experience of using online evidence based portfolios in my previous post and was already an advocate of using them as a way to enhance the learner experience and to enable accessibility and inclusion and when the government response to the FELTAG report was published in June 2014, it became clear that as teacher educators, our team must respond to these expectations and make the most of the facilities and fantastic support already freely available to us within our faculty, along with exploring new ways of opening up digital inclusion and enhancement for our students and, in turn, we hope, their own students, clients and colleagues.  We had conversations with our students throughout last academic year about their experiences of using digital tech within their teaching.  Some reported lots and some reported very little..  what was clear, however, was that we should be doing more to model best practice.

FELTAG published a progress report in Feb 2015 which highlighted that many institutions and providers had made use of funding available and that there was now a FELTAG coalition formed to support this provision, along with support from JISC and the Education and Training Foundation.  Things were moving forward rapidly and Ofsted is looking for it, or rather expecting it!

I am very excited to see how our new platforms work with our students and I am hopeful that interaction/ discussion/ collaboration and student autonomy will develop even more as a result of the changes made.

There is so much out there to explore in terms of ideas and developing resources. Search Twitter #FELTAG for links to YouTube vids and blogs. To be continued……