Using digital skills to expand vocational learning
Supporting vocational trainers in prisons to embed EDS in their courses.
Recently, our Digital Learning team has been successful in gaining funding for the government’s 8th round of their OTLA (Outstanding Teaching Learning and Assessment) research programme. During the first two phases, our team looked into the potential for using simulation tools in the classroom, as well as the opportunity to embed EDS (Essential Digital Skills) training into English classes.
By upgrading digital provisions in prison education, learners will be better suited for careers upon release that require digital literacy. To support this, our third phase of research focused on how we can support vocational trainers in prisons to embed EDS in their courses.
Working across prisons to upgrade vocational education
The project sought to address the digital divide that exists in vocational training spaces in prisons. Due to limited access to equipment and resources, as well as challenges like prison infrastructure and security concerns, vocational classes have not seen the same growth towards digital training that many other subjects have.
Our research team aimed to identify and understand the barriers preventing trainers from embedding digital skills so that bespoke training packages and resources could be developed that work around the restrictions that exist.
This phase of the project was broken down into six major sections:
- Recruiting subject specialists to support with understanding subjects and barriers
- Identifying current attempts to embed digital
- Completing a pilot study to gather information around trainer confidence and ability
- Creating bespoke resources alongside subject specialists
- Sharing of resources and feedback on how successful they were
- Dissemination of findings
Areas for growth in vocational training in prisons
The research project was able to conclude that beside from unreliable access to digital equipment, lack of confidence on the part of educators and trainers was the largest barrier to success. Many of the vocational trainers who provided feedback, suggested that they didn’t feel like they the up-to-date digital skills to embed digital into their classes.
We have since seen through the pilot study that with adequate training, and resources that consider the limitations of a prison classroom, educators were more able to embed EDS in their courses. Learners are provided a more rounded education and have more opportunities to develop their understanding of these important digital tools.
Thanks to the feedback from this research, we will begin expanding the pilot programme, and are working with our vocational trainers to expand the use of digital tools in a way that makes sense for their classrooms. Seasonal resource packs that have been created based on our findings are currently being sent to our establishments.
For a more in-depth report of the findings, take a look at the participant case studies, project webpage and the project padlet.