Monday, November 26, 2018

A Busy Ten Months at City of Glasgow College

via Gfycat

It has been fun doing quite a bit more than holding the coats, while City of Glasgow College went through a major internal re-structure. It is a superbly appointed and equipped environment to work in. 

I've enjoyed my time as acting interim Head of Centre of Professional and Technical Education and now it is time to move on to my next adventure.

Here is a quick snapshot of some of the things we have achieved. 

Only achievable with some great support from the learning technology team , digital library team , IT team and academic teams across the College and the sponsorship and support of the senior management team.

On systems front ;  

  • We stabilised a wobbly installation of Moodle, upgrading from 3.1 to 3.3.6  while creating a business case for a move to an alternative platform. Refreshing the training materials available to staff and students for the new platform along the way. There was a learning curve around this for the whole organisation as we fell short on our mission  to get to Moodle3.5 but the journey made for an exciting summer. 
  • We brought Onefile on stream and along with providing staff training and created suite of on-line training materials
  • We re-procured the similarity detection engine. We along with the three other Glasgow Colleges are sticking with Turnitin. , the procurement exercise being a useful joint exercise. The new version has even better feedback and marking tools for staff. The next task is to get staff up to speed with all of these feedback and reporting mechanisms. 
  • We changed the in-house video conferencing system from Big-Blue Button to Zoom Meeting -and started shaping a new training offer around this. 
  • We introduced a new Libguides Platform to promote among other things,  new sets of open text books to staff and learners. The platform will support communications on a lot of other fronts too. 
  • We invested and brought on stream the assets from the Blended Learning Consortium and made full use too of the discounts on other services that membership offers.  


On Staffing :

We worked to stabilise Learning Technology team by taking some fixed term posts and making them full-time .  It is clear that learning technology is being used in a positive way, as an entry route for talented graduates into the teaching side of further education .  Clear too that learning technology skills are in high demand, with Universities offering a premium on what FE Colleges pay for this skill set. This does mean that ALT and CMALT have an important role in professionalising teams and it is important that learning technology teams offer sound and broad staff development for those in the FE sector. 

It is particularly challenging to get developers and those who can design and run system analytical reports and shape these into meaningful dashboards. I think this ability to recruit and hold on to staff with these specialist skill sets is a sectoral challenge and not confined to this College. 

With the libraries team we worked to extend opening hours into evening and on Saturday mornings and in expanding the digital support available to all staff and learners. 

On Staff Skills 

  • In context of #Citylearning4.0 (see earlier posts) we did our bit in respect of expanding the support available from the library and  learning technology team and in shaping a vision for the whole organisation.
  • In April to June 2018 the College was one of one hundred FE and HE centres across the UK to take part in the Jisc Digital Capabilities Survey work – this providing a benchmark on staff digital skills. We made great use of the Jisc Building Digital Capabilities study and work . This being driven out by learning technology and digital libraries team in first instance . We were delighted that around 25% of all staff engaged with this . Pleased too that this activity will continue with Organisational Development supporting the future of this work over the next two years. 
  •  A model of shared teaching practice has been agreed with College staff and HMIE and will be rolled out over current session.  
  • We hosted a number of key sectoral events , The Blended Learning Consortium's first Scottish Conference ,  The Association of Learning Technology's Scottish Group conference,  Google Educator training programme for Scottish teachers - each allowing College staff admittance to build their skills and perspective on digital learning. 

On Innovation 


There has never been a better time to drive innovation into further education . There is so much low hanging fruit that can have a direct impact on learning and learners.  


  • We are building a very positive relationship with the Wikimedia Foundation. We held a number of staff development sessions and supported a public editathon for Glasgow's doors open day. The sector needs to learn how embedding Wikimedia in learning supports new forms of practice. We have a number of staff completing the Creative Commons Course positioning the College to be a stronger advocate for Open Education. There is still a long journey ahead to get staff and Colleges to understand open education.
  • We are leading on a new national College relationship with the CLA - thanks to some great work by the library team.
  • We started our first cohort on a Professional Development Award in Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching. TELT attracting a strong cohort of learners from across Colleges and national agencies . And attracting interest from south of the border around both the model and the SQA Award. 
  • We won funding from a range of sources now around 150K+ in this short period , thanks to innovators in the learning technology and digital collections teams who were willing to shape and engage in a number of bids.  Watch this space as work around VR in Assessment , Blockchain and certification and a distributed model of support for the National Manufacturing Institute of Scotland rolls out from City of Glasgow College,  among many other successful project bids. 
  • We are working closely with Google Education using their service to drive a number of our projects notably a UFI funded project to give every learner a portable e-portfolio to take with them on their lifelong learning journey.  It was a delight to hold the first Scottish Google Educators Train the Trainer session in the College. I know this relationship will only grow stronger.  We are building a College community of practice around this work. 
    

The team is in a strong place to move forward.  We have built too strong relationships with those across the UK who are able to support College development in this space in an ambitious way. It is really worth following the development of Digital Competency Framework for Further Education from the Education and Training Foundation. And full disclosure it was a delight too to be invited to support development of this framework and apply my knowledge of developments in this area. 

Thanks too to the senior management team here for allowing my continued interest in the work of ALT , UNESCO , British Council and the work for the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to continue and feed into the work of the College. And my continuing role as Board Member of Kelvin College and Youthlink Scotland. 

You can read about what we told staff here - it's been a productive journey.



We will see now what the next chapter will bring. 





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