Feedback from FELTAG16: How far has FE digitally transitioned?

September 30, 2016

The FELTAG16 conference “Effectively Transitioning to Digital Further Education” was held in London on 28th September 2016, organised by Inside Government. Below is a summary and round up of the main points from the perspective of a technology supplier.

SeeLogic is working with an increasing number of education providers and as such, has developed a specific FE CRM solution. We are experts with CRM and have lots of experience of the challenges of CRM within an education context. However, it is important to understand the wider digital strategy and future direction of the sector. FELTAG16 presented a great opportunity to listen to challenges, progress and requirements from FE senior management.

What is FELTAG16?

First of all, what is FELTAG16? FELTAG stands for Further Education Learning Technology Action Group and was set up in 2013 to ensure the effective use of digital technology in learning, teaching and assessment in Further Education and skills.  The group reviewed six work streams based on themes such as learners, investment and capability.  The report published in October 2014 identified a number of recommendations to enable the system to become continually adaptive to technology. FELTAG16 was a gathering of FE leaders to discuss progress and share case studies since the initial report.

“Books will soon be obsolete in the classroom”

So said Thomas Edison in 1913, as pointed out by a speaker in one of the morning’s session. FELTAG16 was kicked off with  sessions from Institute of Education, The Association for Learning Technology (ALT), JISC and D2L Europe LTD. Paul McKean from JISC made several references to the Science and Technology Committee “Digital Skills Crisis” report. These included:

  • The UK needs another 745,000 workers with digital skills by 2017.
  • 90% of jobs require digital skills to some degree.
  • The skills gap costs the economy around £6.3 billion a year in lost income.

Buns vs Bytes

The following sessions centered around case studies from the sector together with a review on how well the recommendations have been implemented. A speaker from Heart of Worcestershire College spoke enthusiastically about the blended learning consortium and the economics of scale he called “buns vs bytes”.  Member colleges were able to access £370 million worth of learning and content development for only £5k a year.

There was a engaging discussion between Bob Harrison and Bryan Mathers, reviewing the six streams of FELTAG. They shared their thoughts on the progress as part of a ‘Bob’stead report.  There was a great deal of participation from the audience with examples of positive action. In one example, a college had invested in charging lockers and actively encouraged a BYOD (Bring your own device) approach. They reported mixed success.  Some learners did not bring devices  and lessons did not incorporate devices as much as hoped. However, this college was pleased that BYOD was now very much front of mind with all staff. There were similar examples of digital strategies however, overall if was felt that there was room from improvement.

“We are preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet”

The afternoon and final sessions showcased more case studies on the different approaches taken to increase digital technology around campus and in the classroom. The different approaches highlighted a challenge raised at the very beginning of the day.  There is a lack of continuity in approach between education providers.

A presentation towards the end of the day from Portsmouth College provided a case study on how they have used Apple devices in the class room for 1-2-1 learning. A slide showed two pertinent statements on the impact of technology.  “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet” and “If we are not careful, we will be preparing students for jobs that will cease to exist”.

In conclusion, it was a very interesting conference and there was a great deal more content than could fit into a short blog. You can find more updates from #IGFELTAG16

To read our white paper on FE and CRM please click here