Shaping the digital experience for future learners

How do FE learners at UK colleges experience technology? Outgoing president of the NUS and Commissioner, Shakira Martin, reflects on the value of a digital education

We know that 60% of jobs not yet created will be digital - which is why it’s essential to immerse digital technologies within learning environments, equipping students with the skills and knowledge they’ll need to thrive in the workplace.

During my time as NUS president, I saw first-hand the ways in which digital technology is already being used to enhance teaching, learning and inclusion. Students are not just training for a job, but for a global career.

Sharing insights

In a survey published by Jisc on Tuesday (3rd September), 29,531 students from 50 institutions reflect on the technologies they encounter in education. Of these, 13,389 further education (FE) students studying at 30 sixth form settings and FE colleges had their say. If we listen and respond, their voices can help shape the digital experience for future learners.

Maximising value

Colleges already invest heavily in technology and digital, so it is vital that they understand how their students are using the technology – what works well and where improvements can be made. It’s good to note strong student satisfaction levels, with 70% of FE students rating the quality of digital teaching and learning on their course highly. Digital provision was also rated ‘good’, ‘excellent’ or ‘best imaginable’ by 72% of FE students. However, there are areas where we need to work together to address issues - such as improving students’ knowledge, understanding and confidence in understanding data privacy and protecting their wellbeing. It’s also worrying, given the increasing need for digital skills in the workplace, that around 40% of students don’t feel their course prepares them for the digital workplace.

Embracing change

It’s time for education leaders to enhance their students’ digital experience, embracing a fully digital approach to issues such as curriculum design and the learning environment. To that end, I call on all colleges to work in partnership with their students to ensure they are providing the best possible education experience – one in which digital technology is integrated. We must offer opportunities for all learners – now and in the future – to develop the skills they need to thrive in our ever-more connected and fast-changing world.

Shakira Martin (@ShakiraSweet1) is a Commissioner for the Independent Commission on the College of the Future. She is the outgoing president of National Union of Students (NUS) and head of student experience at Rose Bruford College.

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