Finding ways to integrate digital education throughout our provisions is a challenging but rewarding process when working in prison education. With limited digital access in prisons, our tutors and trainers show incredible creativity and ingenuity in embedding these vital skills into subjects across our curriculum offering.
At HMP Hewell, our learners in the English class have been integrating digital lessons through a Valentine’s Day theme.
Using digital resources to encourage reading development
Our learners had been discussing the importance of different styles of writing; why punctuation is important, and how to communicate using emojis in an online world. Using tools like iFake, our educators can help learners visualise writing styles in texting formats.
Building on this, they were presented with an excerpt from YOLO Juliet, a modern-day internet slang version of Romeo and Juliet. They were not provided any context on the story before they were asked to read, which meant that they didn’t have any preconceived notions about the text and would be more willing to engage with it.
Participation was great; learners quickly assigned roles to each other and began reading and role-playing the story out loud.
After they figured out that it was a retelling of William Shakespeare’s classic, the learners were enthusiastic to carry on the lesson. “Oh, this is that Romeo and Juliet story, isn’t it?!” someone remarked.
I hated Shakespeare at school, but I could read this all day!
The future of digital innovation at Novus
The next task for the learners was to write a series of messages of what they thought would happen next in the play. The learners were encouraged to use slang and emoticons in their writing. This is still a work in progress!
Learner feedback was positive, and majority enjoyed the task. The reading of the play through the medium of text messages helped to further develop the group’s ongoing discussion of formal and informal writing and to further support their understanding of digital literacy used in everyday life.
Peter Cox, Novus Managing Director, is eager to see the potential that digital initiatives such as this have for the success of our learners: “A digital deficit has always existed for people in prisons but by providing our learners with access to these resources we are helping to reduce the deficit and develop their essential digital skills, which will support them to find employment and access services in the community as they build a positive future.”
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