Thinktank calls for policy road map for digital techonology

The FE sector needs a “policy roadmap” to ensure best use of digital technology, a report launched last week has said.

The report, by think tank The Education Foundation and entitled Digital colleges: the journey so far, examined digital best practice in the college sector and what a digital future would look like. It called for FE and policy leaders to “move past the ‘bright lights of tech’” and move towards creating “digital colleges” — “embracing a mindset that utilises digital technology and engagement across its organisation”.

The report looks at the Digital Colleges Programme, which was set up in June to highlight good practice, and share it across the sector.

The authors, Education Foundation co-founder Ian Fordham and associate director Nathan Martin, said there was “no simple recipe for digital transforming institutions or the sector” but called for “a set of clear sector-wide owned definitions of a Digital College and understandings, shared and agreed by principals and senior leaders.”

They also identified five elements for a college seeking to use technology more effectively, including leadership from the front by principals, good infrastructure where technology interacts and integrates well and aiming to be “digital by default”.

The list also included a warning for providers to be ready for the requirement for at least 10 per cent of a course to be delivered online as set out by the Further Education Learning Technology Action group in March and said leadership should have “agility and adaptability” and an “entrepreneurial approach”.

Robin Ghurbhurun, principal and chief executive of Richmond upon Thames College, which was highlighted for its good practice in the report, welcomed its publication.

“Its focus is not on a new paradigm or promise, but on pragmatism, for far too long the digital box has been empty and the challenge for college leaders is to fill it with purpose,” he said.

South Staffordshire College and North Hertfordshire College were also praised for their digital infrastructures in the report.

South Staffordshire College principal Graham Morley said: “We are committed to pioneering new ways of enabling our communities to exploit the opportunities of living in a digital world. The work of the Digital Colleges programme and report is about facilitating this transformation and influencing thinking. It is enriching the debate as we move forward in the digital age.”