Becta Technology Exemplar
Who and what is Becta?
Becta is the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency and is a non-departmental public body of the Department for Children, Schools and Families in the UK. Their main role is to lead the national drive to inspire and lead the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning. Their mission statement is “To create a more exciting, rewarding and successful experience for learners of all ages and abilities enabling them to achieve their potential”. For more information access the Becta web site through this link http://about.becta.org.uk/
What is the Becta Technology Exemplar Network?
Jointly led by Becta and the Learning and Skills Council, the Technology Exemplar Network was created to support learning providers’ use and application of technology through peer support. Members of the Technology Exemplar Network share effective practice and support through the exchange of experiences, knowledge and practical know-how, that will benefit learners and the organisation.
The network was developed as a direct result of providers feedback from research conducted in 2006-07. A key element of the feedback was the recognition that for colleges and training providers to plan the implementation of sustainable technologies they need evidence of what has worked to date. In addition senior managers were keen to have opportunities to seek support and to share ideas and issues through informal, but facilitated, peer networking.
By reviewing real examples of effective practice taking place elsewhere and by sharing experience learning providers can further develop their plans for future investment and implementation of technology for learning. Follow the link for more information http://feandskills.becta.org.uk/display.cfm?page=2019
Who and what is an Exemplar Provider?
Phase one of the network started in February 2008 and consisted of ten exemplar providers, of which ISIS Training were one of the exemplars. The Exemplars consists of 9 further education establishments and one work-based learning provider (ISIS Training). The exemplars were selected following a rigorous selection process, for their expertise in having embedded technology in learning and assessment. ISIS Training was selected for our use of e-portfolios, electronic assessments and on-line testing.
A further 50 developing providers were selected, who indicated they wanted to move forward and progress their use of technology in learning, but were in the early stages of the development process and needed help, support and advice to move forward.
How do the Exemplars and developing providers work together?
Each Exemplar was allocated 5 or 6 developing providers to work with for one year and the Exemplars acted as their mentors to assist them develop their various projects. ISIS Training worked with 6 other work-based learning providers who wanted to use e-portfolios and electronic assessment methods similar to our own.
We arranged various meetings and visits, both as a group and individually to work on the projects, sharing experiences, best practice and knowledge. We also communicated regularly through e-mail, forums and telephone.
How do the Exemplars work together?
Becta arrange regular meetings between the 10 exemplars, normally over two days in a central location, where we meet to discuss progress, experiences, share best practice and help to further develop and evolve the whole network. The Exemplars have developed mini working groups between themselves, involving providers using similar technologies and have similar ideas. For example ISIS Training have developed close working relationships between South Devon College, Brockenhurst College, City and Islington College and the National Star College. Without the Exemplar Network, we would never have had the opportunity to work with such a diverse range of providers.
What do Becta expect from the Exemplar providers?
As well as the activities described, Becta expect the exemplar providers to promote, support and encourage the use of technology in learning. This is achieved by attending a range of e-learning & technology conferences and events, where we deliver workshops, presentations or simply just answer the questions we are asked. We are expected to support and work closely with our JISC Regional Support Centres, which in our case is East Midlands RSC, based in Loughborough College.
Becta also commissioned a media company, the PA Consulting Group, and set up a design authority which was represented by 2 Exemplar providers, (ourselves and Brockenhurst College), who developed the ‘Generator Technology Self Improvement and Assessment Tool’.
What are the benefits to ISIS Training?
The benefits have been immense so far! Becta and the Learning Skills Council provided funding in the form of capital grants to purchase equipment and further the development of our E-learning strategy. We can access to a wide range of information, knowledge and expertise regarding e-learning & technology and also have developed contacts and partnerships with both the Exemplar and Developing providers where we can share information, resources and best practice. It has raised the profile of ISIS Training to the point where we are known nationally as one of the most successful providers in the use of e-portfolios and electronic assessment.
What happens next?
Phase two of the Technology Exemplar Network has recently been launched and this consists of 16 Exemplar providers, 8 of the original 10, plus an additional 8 new Exemplars and up to a hundred new supporting and developing providers. The network is now going to be run on more regional basis with ISIS Training working with developing providers mainly in the East of England/Midlands regions. The selection process has now been completed and we have begun working with 8 developing providers as part of our mini-network, supporting and mentoring them to develop and improve their use of technology. Phase two once again attracts a series of capital grants which we will use for more equipment and resources and there will be a new round of meetings, events, and conferences involving the 16 exemplars.
How can we continue to improve and develop our use of technology?
ISIS Training would not have achieved Exemplar status without the help and support of all our staff, learners and employers, in the implementation and use of e-portfolios and the associated electronic assessments we carry out. The continuing success of the ISIS Training e-Learning strategy and our use of technologies in learning and assessment depends on this continuing support.
We are constantly evaluating our use of technology and gathering feedback from learners and employers regarding:
- New ways of carrying out e-assessments; asking learners what they would like and how they would like to be assessed.
- Asking for feedback on the learning resources and equipment we use. How could they be improved? what else do you think we could use?
- Experimenting with the existing equipment; for example Learning Advisors making more use of the video camera or can learners provide their own video clips?
- Looking at web sites containing learning resources, there are lots out there and most are free. The findings and recommendations sent to the Quality Team for further analysis to see if they are suitable.
- Looking at the use of paper based resources. Could these be converted into electronic versions? Do you REALLY need to use them in the first place?