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Digital by design – Glasgow Clyde College

Amy Butler, eLearning Development Officer for Glasgow Clyde College, describes the recent digital journey her centre has been on. Amy describes embracing emerging technologies such as generative artificial intelligence (AI) whilst continuing to develop the basic digital skills of learners and practitioners. 

June 5, 2024 - megancrawford - Categories: Uncategorized

NextGen: HN

At Glasgow Clyde our strategic vision revolves around fostering innovation, inclusivity and excellence. The integration of generative AI aligns perfectly with this vision. It positions our college as a forward-thinking pioneer, committed to equipping staff with the tools needed to thrive in the digital age. Glasgow Clyde’s commitment to innovation lies in our collective determination to harness technology for the greater good. We have a vision to: 

  • Develop the skills and confidence of staff. 
  • Improve access to digital technology for all learners. 
  • Ensure that digital technology is a central consideration in all areas of learning, teaching, and assessment delivery. 
  • Empower leaders of change to drive innovation and investment in digital technology for learning and teaching. 

When we transitioned back to campus-based learning after the COVID-19 pandemic, the advantages of maintaining the digital skills developed during the remote working period were reinforced by eLearning. This transition involved ongoing interaction with staff through training, webinars, and short demonstration videos. As a result, staff continue to improve the student experience by making excellent use of Canvas (virtual learning environment) and other digital tools for learning, teaching, and assessment. 

Addressing basic digital skills 

We know that some learners and staff can lack confidence and competence when   digital tools are considered, and we are working hard to help them.  We have created engaging courses for learners to improve their digital skills such as, file management, using Microsoft Office, and digital communication. We also created a series of video resources covering a wide range of digital skills which are shared directly with learners via email and Canvas.  

We have centralised online support and information for learners. Digital skills training, mental health resources, and step-by-step support details are all directly available providing a holistic, college-wide approach to learning and support. These are all available through our Canvas app.  

We also offer digital skills courses as part of staff CPD.  We continue to support practitioners in adopting a digital by design approach to learning and teaching. We are encouraging staff to use digital resources, such as Canvas, to help provide a positive learner experience. This includes online meta-skills and sustainability courses that can be contextualised and embedded within any subject area. 

Finally, we understand the importance of both practitioner and learner ability. By improving practitioner confidence and competence in digital technologies, the student experience is impacted positively and sets an expectation for students to develop their own digital capability.  

Artificial Intelligence 

We are also looking to the future and embracing emerging technologies, as well as developing basic digital confidence in learners and practitioners.  

We were initially worried about how learners were utilising platforms such as ChatGPT, during the rapid advances of generative AI due to potential security issues, and the broader implications on the further education sector. While some of these concerns persist, staff are now actively engaging with generative AI to explore how it can aid in teaching, learning and assessment, streamline processes, and bringing innovation to their practice. 

To navigate the changing landscape, practitioners needed opportunities to develop their digital literacy. Glasgow Clyde realised that the advance in generative AI tools offered opportunities and challenges for practitioners.  Generative AI presented the opportunity to improve efficiency and save time for those with digital confidence. However, there was the risk of missing out on the benefits of this emerging technology for those with less confidence. While training sessions highlighted AI awareness, many practitioners struggled with AI chatbots. To overcome this challenge, we explored user-friendly platforms and chose Teachermatic. Teachermatic has an easy to use interface and a clearly defined focus on education. Although we still use other products such as ChatGPT, Claude.ai and Copilot.  

The use of generative AI has been incredibly popular with staff. The following feedback was received: 

‘TeacherMatic has helped to create new ideas for delivering lessons to learners which encourage discussions, participation in class, and check learning to date. Overall, the resources created by TeacherMatic have improved the quality, interactivity, and accessibility of lessons.’ Practitioner: Social Care Department 

‘TeacherMatic has helped provide a wide range of resources and interactive material that have enhanced the learning experience for beauty learners. It creates current information on techniques and treatment styles, ensuring students have access to the most relevant and up-to-date knowledge in the industry.’ Practitioner: Beauty Department 

AI training and guidance 

We have delivered training sessions focussing on the use of generative AI, utilising platforms such as ChatGPT, Claude.ai, and Copilot. We wanted to alleviate any apprehension associated with prompting, which is a key skill when using generative AI,and to foster a comfortable environment for staff to engage in the conversational aspects of generative AI, helping to advance their results. 

During the training sessions, we emphasise the importance of prompting and encourage practitioners to critically examine AI responses. Furthermore, we leverage their subject expertise to review the output for inaccuracies and irrelevant information. 

We have also created variable-based templates which allow practitioners to easily contextualise a generic prompt. This will allow them to generate a response suitable for their subject area.      

We have issued guidance on the use of AI for practitioners, support staff and learners. As AI evolves, we will update the guidelines to ensure they remain current and relevant. We have published two new courses with interactive eLessons on AI within education and industry – one designed for practitioners to inform them about AI and to help develop their confidence; the second focuses on learners, providing information and examples of how to effectively and ethically use AI. 

Final Thoughts 

I believe centres should continue improving basic digital skills across learners and practitioners and should consider embracing generative AI to revolutionise the educational landscape. Generative AI can analyse and structure content, turning prompts into a variety of formats which can reduce workload across the sector. Moreover, generative AI can provide access to information, aid neurodiverse learners, and accelerate innovation and creativity. While it’s important to be aware of the challenges, the benefits of integrating generative AI into further education can outweigh the risks when used responsibly and with guidance. Ultimately, generative AI is not a replacement for human expertise but a tool that can enhance the educational process and prepare learners for a future where AI is an integral part of society. 

If you have any questions, please contact NextGen@sqa.org.uk. 

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