Rewards for those with the byte stuff

9th June 2000 at 01:00
JULIA Duggleby's involvement in information and communications technology was an accident.

When Sheffield College started offering its Living IT course in 1997, Ms Duggleby found herself involved, simply because she knew slightly more about computers than most others. She has taught English for 21 years but enrolled on one of the early Internet courses in 1995.

Her next project was Learning to Teach Online, a collaboration involving the eight FE colleges in South Yorkshire. As its developer, she and colleague Fred Pickering, of Barnsley College, jointly won the 1999 National Information and Learning Technology Association multimedia award.

This year, Ms Duggleby may win another award in the first British Educational and Communications Technology Agency ICT in Practice Awards, supported by The TES.

Hers is the type of case The TES is spotlighting as an example of good ICT work that the award seeks to recognise. Judges will look for practice that achieves traditional objectives in new and better ways or expands the boundaries of what is possible. It must also be able to replicated in other situations.

The winner of the FE award will receive pound;2,500, with the same amount going to the recipient's institution. Judging takes place in October, with winners announced at the BETT techology exhibition in London in January.

Owen Lynch, BECTA chief executive, explained the importance of identifying good use of technology for others to emulate. "The crucial judgment that must be made of ICT is how it affects practice - how it improves the quality of students' learning, the effectiveness of the teacher and the efficiency of the institution," he said. "Infrastructure and content are important, but practice is crucial."

The Learning to Teach Online project has already won a Beacon award from BECTA last year. Ms Duggleby, author of How to Be an Online Tutor, by Gower Publishing, said it aims to help teachers become good online tutors and is naturally offered on the Internet.

More than 400 students in countries as distant as Fiji and Australia have taken the course and one tutor is in Melbourne.

She says one cohort of 15 to 20 participants is expected for a session this month, but five have been filled.

The online teaching course is one of four courses endorsed by the University for Industry for staff wanting to become online tutors. The arrival of the UFI's learndirect, 80 per cent of whose courses will be online, is likely to stimulate the development of online FE courses.

BECTATES ICT in Practice Awards are at: www.becta.org.ukpracticeawards


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