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FE sector must be 'bolder' in using tech to transform education, says City and Guilds

The further education sector should be “bolder” in its use of technology to transform learning, according to a new report.

Research by vocational body City & Guilds has described what the vocational classroom of the future could look like, and says the FE sector should be experimenting with new technologies.

It says the sector should “move beyond” internet research, PowerPoint presentations and computer assessments, and instead use social media, video lectures and virtual monitoring of student progress.

The report says the sector should embrace a “culture of experimentation”, with teachers developing new methods together with students.

It also recommends that teachers and technology experts should be supported to work together to use technologies to develop new techniques and teaching methods, and FE college leaders should explore new technologies inside and outside of the classroom.

The report - Culture, Coaching and Collaboration: How to unlock the potential of digital technology in vocational teaching and learning - highlights pioneering institutions such as Reading College and TES FE Awards 2014 nominee Bridgend College in Wales, where the practical application of technology is being used to enhance vocational education.

One of the new models of learning delivery it explores is the possible use of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) in FE.

Writing for TES recently, digital learning expert Donald Clark said such vocational MOOCs, or VOOCs, have already arrived and will be big in future.

Kirstie Donnelly, UK managing director of City & Guilds, said the research confirmed that technology had the ability to transform the way vocational education is delivered.

“Further education, as a route into employment, has an opportunity to lead the way,” she said.

“We are committed to supporting the sector by ensuring that technology plays a central role in everything we create.

 "The findings of the research clearly demonstrate the need for the FE sector to be bolder with its use of technology to transform teaching and learning."

Lynne Sedgmore, executive director of the 157 Group of colleges said the findings were “welcome and timely”.

“Putting technology at the heart of vocational learning in the FE sector is vital for ensuring that we train tomorrow’s workforce to become the highly-skilled and adaptable employees that British businesses need,” she added.

However, the report warns that any future success will depend on innovation from within the sector itself, rather than a “top-down approach” from policy-makers who, it says, often lack the technology or teaching experience.

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