There are few things at Glasgow Kelvin College as important as developing skills. Almost 16,000 students enjoy accessible vocational skills and core-skills learning from five campus buildings and through a large network of over 40 community-based learning centres.
Beyond the walls of our college, we engage with many communities that experience high levels of deprivation, working with partners and employers to create relevant industry-standard programmes. We also look for inclusive progression opportunities in a vibrant and sustainable environment for the learners, communities, and stakeholders that it serves.
The delivery of skills, then, is a core part of our identity and our social mission.
Tip 1 – Use the right technology to upskill
Naturally, this drive also benefits our staff. Each year at Glasgow Kelvin College, we develop and deliver three staff conferences and engage in Professional Learning. Middle management have been the main facilitators at these events, and topics include creating a Mentally Healthy College, a whole College approach to Access, and Inclusion and improving our engagement and communications with staff.
Microsoft technology has been key to our success throughout this journey. We’ve been using Office 365 for over six years; at this point, Exchange, OneNote, SharePoint, Sway, and OneDrive are embedded in our education, supporting learning. We’ve also begun introducing Teams, which has been welcomed by students.
This has led is to look to Microsoft platforms to raise the level of skills across the college. Digital competency and upskilling our employees for the future of work is essential. As such, at the College Staff Conference in March 2019, initial steps were taken to support staff in becoming members of the Microsoft Educator Community.
Tip 2 – Create a Baseline of knowledge
A project was created to develop a Baseline of Knowledge for assistive technologies, which launched in March. This ensures all staff understand the key components required to be digitally capable, and all learners become equipped with the skills and resources to maximise their interaction with technology to improve the learner experience.
We have six baseline considerations.
- Digital Capabilities – create accessible content available in everyday formats such as Word and PowerPoint, in adherence to our ‘Accessibility Guidelines’ and basic practices.
- Enabling technologies – understand the enabling technologies we have available as a site licence, e.g. Texthelp and Read & Write.
- Microsoft Office – possess a basic knowledge of commercial tools like Microsoft Office, which support reading, writing, and productivity
- Windows ‘Ease of Access’ – recognise the free assistive technologies available via Windows. This includes narrator, magnifier, high contrast, and on-screen keyboard.
- Moodle virtual learning environment (VLE) accessibility tools – appreciate the VLE accessibility solutions. This includes how they can be used, offering learners and staff the ability to customise the platform to work for them.
- Website accessibility tools – comprehend our website accessibility solutions and how they can be used to enable visitors and learners to customise these platforms, too.
Tip 3 – Adopt Skills 4.0
Next in our journey, we adopted Skills 4.0 as a model to enable individuals to prepare for a future that’s increasingly unpredictable.
The exponential change that organisations are experiencing will continue to be a major factor for employers and employees of the future way, beyond what we already know. As such, the college is committed to ensuring our staff are role models, and create within others, the skills that the next generation will need for the jobs of the future.
Keeping Glasgow Kelvin College at the forefront of Skills 4.0 are mutually beneficial partnerships. We’ve strengthened our industry links to help us develop professional learning strategies. As part of this development with employers, our relationship with Microsoft is crucial. It ensures the college has an influential and leading role in the delivery of further education; it helps us support and develop young people to have the skills to actively participate in the world of work.
Tip 4 – Engage with partners
August’s staff conference programme saw us collaborate with partners, including Microsoft, XMA, Hewlett-Packard, SmartSTEMs, Seric, Beyonder, and JP Morgan. Digitally transforming the classroom experience and strengthening links with employers was the programme’s focus.
At this time, we were keen to launch Teams across the wider college. Microsoft was unfailingly supportive in helping us achieve this goal. It also held the added benefit of allowing us to hold several events and sessions focused on Teams in education.
During the day, staff had the opportunity to attend three keynotes and a variety of professional learning sessions. There was also a marketplace, filled with stalls, online learning, and employer exhibition stands. We found these added activities really helped to engage staff, and promote the importance of digital transformation.
And it was at this time that we set a target for staff: achieve the Microsoft Innovator Educator badge. Spurred on by this goal, 202 employees have so far achieved the required 1000 points. We couldn’t be prouder.
Tip 5 – Develop a learning strategy
Our next step is to develop a professional learning strategy, which focuses on Skills 4.0, a culture of innovation, and digital transformation.
Three elements will be incorporated into our strategy:
- Developing technological innovation for learning, teaching, assessment, and service delivery
- Consider how technology is adopted by staff and learned
- Better integrate new technology into Glasgow Kelvin College
To help us add meat to this, two staff attended the Microsoft Bootcamp. This helped us develop expertise, in order to build capacity within our own organisation. Our invitation to become a Microsoft Showcase College is evidence of our success so far, and another milestone in our transformation. Our next staff conference is on 27th November 2019. I can’t wait to continue to focus on our digital journey.
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About the author
Audrey has been in education for 25 years, primarily leading on Human Resources and Organisation Development. As Vice Principal at Glasgow Kelvin College, alongside the Director of ICT, she leads a professional learning journey to upskill all support and teaching staff to use and maximise technology to enhance the learner experience and service delivery. Audrey believes that Microsoft 365 tools are central to the upskilling of staff, and engaging with the Microsoft team has been pivotal in employee buy-in. The college now has 202 Microsoft Innovator Educators and will continue to build on its ambitions.