New standards aim to bring lecturers into the digital age

20th April 2012 at 01:00
Revised document to be used in training and assessing college staff

A new set of professional standards for college lecturers, urging them to become "digital practitioners" and "models of change", has been launched.

The revised standards reflect more a "change of emphasis than fundamental substance", said Langside College principal Graeme Hyslop, who is chair of the Professional Learning and Development Forum that commissioned the work.

A renewed focus on the lecturer's ability to deliver essential skills was crucial in Scotland's "youth un- employment crisis", he told TESS.

He saw the revision of the 2006 standards as a "valuable reference document in (the) ongoing task of ensuring the college workforce meets ever-increasing learner expectations".

In a sector that is changing radically, the new standards were "another example of the college sector being ahead" in the development of good practice, said Mr Hyslop.

Unlike the earlier version, the new standards would not only be used by universities delivering teacher training, but also by colleges to assess whether their lecturers met the requirements of their profession, said Andrew Morrison, former assistant principal of Elmwood College and a consultant to Scotland's Colleges, who wrote Professional Standards for Lecturers in Scotland's Colleges.

The standards will also be used by the sector's representative body, Scotland's Colleges, to identify areas where support materials or CPD for lecturers might be necessary, added Mr Morrison.

Wide consultation and the results of a survey of college staff that received 525 formal responses and 241 written comments showed that most of the previous standards were still considered relevant. However, a change in emphasis was needed to reflect changes in the sector and its environment, the report found.

Asked what skills lecturers would need in 2020, respondents said they had to have an increased knowledge of other sectors.

According to one response: "For a generation of lecturers, students will be emerging from a school system that is unrecognisable to those lecturers and will be progressing to a higher education environment that will bear no relation to the system that they went through."

Changes in the use of technology meant lecturers not only had to be ICT-literate, but also had to be digital practitioners, able to use ICT for learning and teaching, to "manage their own digital identity and to be engaged with the ethical and moral issues associated with the use of technologies", the survey found.

Lecturers should be "facilitators, rather than directors of learning - supporting the learners and advising them in the learning choices", said another respondent.

And with lecturers encountering a diverse range of students who had instant access to technology, they would have to "respond with creativity of learning opportunities and possible `bite-sized' learning development, responding to the learners' wishes", predicted another respondent.

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