FE, FELTAG and future gazing

Anyone working in further education would agree that the sector is facing challenging times, says Paul McKean

The forthcoming general election is leaving many feeling unsettled, but whatever the outcome, most agree that cuts to further education will continue. This pressure to economise, combined with conversations about the best courses and facilities to equip students for work mean that events and decisions of the next 12 months will be crucial in shaping the future of further education. 

Counting the cost

When it comes to justifying the cost of further education, its impact on the economy is often discussed, however unlike higher education, it is rarely measured. 

One way to increase the impact of FE, and to make that impact more measurable, is to improve use of digital technology in learning providers. FELTAG (the Further Education Technology Action Group) is a group that was set up by Matthew Hancock, minister of state for business and enterprise, in order to champion the use of digital technology in FE. The FELTAG recommendations are already likely to have sparked debate in the staff room, but its over-arching recommendation is clear: the use of digital technology in further education isn’t optional.

The future with FELTAG

The FELTAG recommendations have been broadly met with enthusiasm, but in practical terms they also mean that many learning providers are rethinking their curriculum as a result. At Jisc, we’re in a good position to help with this challenge.

For starters, there has been some confusion about the ‘FELTAG 10%’, but with the help of the Skills Funding Agency, we’ve been able to clarify that point here

In fact, Jisc along with a number of sector bodies and agencies including AoC, NIACE, Natspec, ETF and others have outlined a number of measures that can help, from supporting colleges to collaborate in their curriculum design to building a pool of online resources for the sector. In fact, we’ve outlined six areas where we felt support was currently lacking for FE providers when it comes to FELTAG, and worked out how we can help

DigiFest 2015 

The FELTAG recommendations have created a sense of urgency for many. That’s why we’ve dedicated a day of this year’s Jisc Digital Festival to Further Education and skills, celebrating technology innovation in the sector, encouraging collaboration between providers and offering advice and guidance on incorporating digital technology into the curriculum. The FE and skills focussed sessions will include debates on using IT and digital skills to enhance student employability, enabling mobile learning and facing FELTAG together. For more information and tickets, visit our website.

The future for FE?

Regardless of the outcome of the general election, it is certain that further education will be on the next Government’s agenda one way or another, and the use of technology within the sector will be a big part of this. The FELTAG recommendations might get a different name, but the content won’t change significantly. Colleges and other FE providers will need to develop ways to use technology that will save money, while also delivering impact that will help people to understand the huge benefits the sector brings for students, the economy and the country as a whole.

Paul McKean is FE and Skills customer advocate at Jisc

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