The Pearson National Teaching Awards are known as the ‘Oscars’ of the teaching profession. They are the UK’s most prestigious celebration of transformational teaching and culminate in a gala celebration televised by the BBC.
The Silver Award for Digital Innovator of the Year
This award is for teachers who harness the power of technology to make a difference to students and fellow staff. The recipient Becki Lee is the Head of Quality Improvement and Student Experience at Hopwood Hall College in Manchester, UK.
In the words of the Pearson National Teaching Awards, “Becki Lee has consistently showcased digital technologies which should be at the forefront of education. She has created fun and engaging ‘iLearn challenges’ for families enjoying community fun days and for staff as part of college health and wellbeing activities, instilling confidence in those who are not regular users of digital learning.
Her efforts as Head of Quality Improvement and Student Experience, encompassing eLearning, have led to Hopwood Hall College becoming recognized as a national example of best practice for digital learning, and it has hosted a number of conferences for other Further Education colleges. Becki has also written articles for educational press and provides eLearning support to other schools on a one-to-one basis.
No challenge is too great for Becki, she is a consummate professional and has excelled in a number of curriculum and cross college roles. Learners are truly at the heart of all she does and it would be no exaggeration to say she has ignited a passion and confidence in digital learning across the whole college community.”
Overwhelmed by the honor
Becki responds, “I was surprised enough at being shortlisted in June for the Digital Innovator Award and in all honesty was really happy about that – I never thought I would be shortlisted further to become one of the Silver winners. Myself and my teams have been doing our job, and whilst I know my teams are the best in the world, I didn’t realise how much we had done to change the culture around digital technology – in both education and the community – until we had to pull all the information together for the Pearson’s judging board.
When I arrived at the Riverside Restaurant on our Rochdale Campus, I truly believed I had been asked to represent our Governing body to present an award to a learner. In fact, I was panicking as I hadn’t been given the details of the learner until I arrived there. However, as soon as our Principal Julia Heap began the ceremony it quickly became apparent there wasn’t a learner, in fact, the evening was focused on me. Even at this point I didn’t really understand what was happening!! I am sure you can see how surprised I was throughout this video:
I am overwhelmed by the response not just from Nazir Afzal-our Chair of Governors, Juila Heap (Principal) and SLT at the college or the messages played from external people but from my colleagues within the college and my family and friends. I have to reiterate though, I am just representing a brilliant group of people, the iLearn team – whom without their hard work resilience and commitment to the cause – we would never have been able to achieve what we have managed to, so this is my thanks to them.”
Shifting from eLearning to Remote Learning
Hopwood Hall has been using the itslearning LMS/VLE for over 9 years. Becki explains how the platform helped minimize the disruption caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic. “Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic we were using itslearning to deliver teaching and learning as part of our blended learning model. Since the start of lockdown, we have seen a significant increase in usage as you would expect, but we have also seen lots of creative ways of using the tools available.
Staff that may not have had the confidence to try new things are really pushing their boundaries. Planners, messenger and the embedded zoom and teams have seen the most usage during the college closure. These tools have enabled our college to continue to offer a high-quality learning experience.
It has been clear that learners have appreciated that there is interaction with staff, as it keeps a sense of normality plus we have been able to provide additional support such as mental health and wellbeing as we have a dedicated area on the platform.”
Planning is Key
“My advice to schools or colleges that are new to online learning and are considering implementing remote learning in the future is to start planning now – work with key stakeholders to formulate a strategy and break it down into realistic goals. A clear project/timeframe should be developed and communicated to all from day one so everyone can start to adapt to our new way of working and learning.
Reflect on this crisis and use it to inform your remote learning plan and finally, look at it as part of your offer – not something that is just deployed in times of crisis. Education will never return to the traditional model now that we know how technology can enhance what we do, so look at creative ways remote learning can be implemented to benefit the learners, the staff and the wider community.”
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