Middlesbrough College's digital culture 2.0
In 2015 Middlesbrough College implemented a new initiative, digital culture 2.0, which proved to be excellent preparation for the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent move to online learning.
Since then, James Wells, Middlesbrough College's director of digital innovation and support, has been fast-tracking the initiative and rolling out bespoke CPD pathways with the ambitious aim of upskilling not just teaching staff, but business and professional support staff too.
We knew we needed to do some work with our teaching staff of course… but we needed to make sure our business support staff, learning support staff, our apprenticeship advisers – everyone – was catered for in the digital upskill initiativesJames Wells, Middlesbrough College
The discovery tool - a key factor
James states that a key factor to the success of the initiative has been the implementation of the Jisc discovery tool, which currently underpins Middlesbrough College's digital strategy.
In order to target the discovery tool and its resources more precisely, James packaged the question sets, and 800 plus resources, into three separate learning pathways with associated digital badges. These comprise the college's digital explorer, digital pioneer and digital innovator initiatives. He then presented these to staff as an opportunity to upskill and at the same time gain additional CPD accreditation.
Overcoming staff scepticism
Some staff at the college were initially sceptical about using the discovery tool, believing it to be a 'test' rather than a self-reflection exercise. However, hesitancy was largely dispelled via face-to-face sessions and webinar tutorials, which instructed staff how to use the tool, and at the same time increased awareness about the tool's true purpose.
The biggest challenge was trying to get across that this is continuous professional development, true CPD. Once we did that, scepticism did fall away, and staff were really encouraged to go on that journey of developing their own CPDJames Wells, Middlesbrough College
James offers three useful tips for implementing the discovery tool:
Have a launch event
"We chose a cross-college CPD day to launch the discovery tool to all our staff. We ran continual 30-minute sessions, where up to sixty staff could attend and find out what the BDC was, how it could be beneficial to their development, and they had access to a PC where they could log in and complete the 'Exploring your overall capabilities' question set there and then."
Sell the benefits for individuals
"Of course, from my perspective and for other college managers, it is great to be able to gain a broad overview of digital competency within the organisation, but largely most other staff are not concerned with that. What we did in an attempt to ensure staff buy in was to promote the benefits to the individual in their current job role and also promote the fact that the discovery tool helps to develop digital skills for future promotion."
Ensure senior management buy-in
"We had it agreed at our college management team meeting that all staff should be required to complete the 'Explore your overall capabilities' question set, irrespective of their role, seniority or prior experience."
See our video case study below to find out more about how James and his colleagues at Middlesbrough College implemented and benefited from the Jisc discovery tool.
The subtitles for the video are also available in Word format.