With new tools like AI and Chat GPT growing increasingly more accessible, and social media becoming an important factor in running a business, it’s now more vital than ever that we provide opportunities for learners in prison to experience digital technology before they are left in the dust by digital innovation.
Across the industry, educators and facilitators are beginning to recognise the significance of these changes.
A year on from our last Digital Awareness Month campaign, colleagues have been working at bridging the digital divide in prisons and making the technology as available as possible in secure environments.
How does digital innovation play into prison education?
Prisons are no longer years behind FE colleagues with technology. At Novus, we’re at the forefront of digital innovation with AI. We’re set to embark on new projects using the teacher-focused tools, our colleagues are embracing blended learning approaches, our digital community is growing and with that the digital support network is growing too.
Our Digital Learning Team are shifting their focus to support the Quality Improvement Team, fostering closer working relations with our Special Education and Needs Coordinators, and increasing the suite of CPD available to colleagues across the country. Through this change, we can improve how digital innovation feeds into all strands of the business.
Among others, we’ve introduced Britannica, Wordwall, and Wordle into our classrooms. Colleagues have embraced the new tools, with colleagues at HMP Hewell even running their own inter-department Wordle competitions amongst the learners.
As part of our long-term plans for digital transformation, we have been running Essential Digital Skills (EDSQ) at several establishments since April 2022 and expect this to increase by the end of 2023 to almost half of our sites. We will also be looking to pilot DFSQ in the comings months.
What role will digital technology play in prison education in the future?
Thanks largely to the participation and feedback from our colleagues, we’re looking for more opportunities to increase our digital reach, providing a smoother transition for our learners as they leave prison environments and re-enter their communities.
Over the past year, we’ve put resources into opening access to digital tools in the classroom. Because of this effort, we now have an exciting range of websites and apps whitelisted in prisons, supporting our colleagues, and enabling us to engage our learners.
This groundwork gave us the means to host our own Novus inter-prison chess tournament. The entirely online event, and the first of its kind in the UK, saw prisoners from across the country compete in teams, developing their social, analytical, and digital skills in one programme. After the success of this project, as well as the Online World Prison Tournament that our learners took part in, we see a bright future for digital innovation at Novus.
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