The digitally-enabled college

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Coleg Cambria is strongly committed to using technology to develop innovative learning opportunities, flexible learning environments and effective business practices.

Number of learners:  6,500 full time and 15,000 part time learners
Age range:

Seventy-six percent of learners on full time courses are aged 16 to 18 years.

Fifty-one percent of learners on part time courses are aged 25-49 years.

Date of inspection: November 2015

Information about provider

Coleg Cambria was established in August 2013 as a result of the merger between Deeside College and Yale College.  The college has a strong reputation for its innovative use of digital technology and is an active member of several national technology groups.  It is also involved in two European projects on effective blended learning. Coleg Cambria staff have won several national teaching awards for digital learning and use of technology.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

Prior to merger, both colleges made significant investment to ensure that all sites had full wi-fi coverage.  Both colleges shifted resources away from equipping IT rooms and towards purchasing chromebooks, enabling many more students to have access to computers in flexible digital learning environments.  The merger brought best practice together.  Yale College had developed the use of learning apps and Deeside College had developed cloud based technology tools.  In the year prior to merger, the Deeside College Director of IT worked across both colleges to ensure that the necessary infrastructure was in place, with all staff and students using one cloud-based platform that had office, social media and education tools.  Both colleges had a significant number of enthusiastic staff, highly confident in using technology.  Coleg Cambria’s ethos is to ‘inspire, innovate, succeed’, and from the outset there was a strong commitment from all leaders to use technology to develop innovative learning opportunities and effective business practices.

Most learners at Coleg Cambria have access to chromebooks in their classes and regularly use blended learning approaches.  College leaders used the teachers who were already embracing new technology to try out new digital learning tools.  These teachers shared best practice with each other, and the following has emerged as popular applications of technology, now used by most teachers:

  • social media ‘communities’ for sharing

  • ‘classroom’ tool to share resources and submit assignments

  • cloud technology for collaboration

  • learner blogs to record and reflect on skills and to create digital portfolios

  • online quizzes and games apps to check learning and to engage learners

College managers share best use of digital learning via team meetings.  Many staff and learners use the communities tool regularly as their quickest and most effective form of communication to share resources and ideas.

Reliable wi-fi means that learners can use learning apps and web-based platforms on their mobile devices.  All learners have their own individual learning planning tool, and use this to set and monitor their learning targets.  In induction, all learners are introduced to the college ‘guidebook’ app to access their learning apps, personal information and student services.  News updates for students are streamed via a social media page.  Student leaders use a bespoke app to regularly ‘take the temperature’ and gain feedback from fellow students on a range of issues through the year.  This information is used by managers and student voice groups as part of quality improvement.

The pastoral programme is taught across the college via a bespoke web-based programme, which enables all teachers to access high quality resources on personal and social education, and models best practice in blended learning.  Coleg Cambria digital badges reward all learners for excellent attendance and progress, and accredit enrichment activities including e-safety training and entrepreneurship activities.

Teachers’ professional development is also blended, with teachers engaging in college developed packages that model new tools to spark more professional creativity.  Digital technology has improved many business operations, including performance management.  Key data is streamed into live dashboards, enabling staff at all levels closely monitor a range of key performance measures and to identify and address issues quickly.  The college is largely paperless, using shared cloud-based folders and documents for meetings.  Web based conferencing is used daily for all cross-site meetings to avoid unnecessary travel between sites and to enable virtual face to face meetings.

What impact has this work had on the quality of provision and learners’ standards?

Nearly all Coleg Cambria learners develop the digital learning skills needed to progress to higher levels of learning and into employment.  They use a wide range of technology with confidence and as a natural part of their day to day learning at college.

Technology is used very effectively in all operational aspects of Coleg Cambria.  Technology enables the college at all levels to share best practice and key information quickly together.  It ensures effective communication and management of data and learner information, which is used by all staff and learners to manage and improve performance.