We spoke to Principal of Forth Valley College Dr Ken Thomson OBE ahead of the Digital Ambition Roadshow, which tours Scotland this Autumn. The aim of the Roadshow is to gather views of college students and staff on what they think the future of learning will look like. The feedback will be used to develop a Digital Ambition for Scotland’s college sector. The Roadshow will stop off at colleges in Borders, Fife, Glasgow, Forth Valley and North East Scotland. Full details of where and when are on the CDN website.

Ken sits on the Short Life Working Group that’s behind the Digital Ambition 2030 project. He explains how the project came about…

‘We want to develop a Digital Ambition for the college sector in Scotland. I was asked to lead and reach out to the sector and ask people what they think the college of the future will look like in 10 years. The Short Life Working Group, which has an interest in College learning, IT and infrastructure, came up with a Digital Ambition Roadshow. I am delighted to have a strong group on board, which is made up of several members of College executives across Scotland – Gina Wilson, Head of Innovation and Partnerships at CDN, Tom Hall from Colleges Scotland, Andrew Stalker from Jisc, and David Beards from the Scottish Funding Council. The reason I wanted CDN is because I was really impressed by the cross sector consultation they did on the Professional Standards (Professional Standards for Lecturers in Scotland’s Colleges). Gina and Tom will facilitate the Digital Ambition Roadshow workshops throughout October and November.’

Why do you want to hear from college students and staff about their digital ambitions for colleges?

‘We want to let college students and staff know that we are working on this, and we want to give everyone the opportunity to have their say and be part of this.’

What do you think the college of the future will look like? How do you think learning in colleges will change by 2030?

‘By 2030, we will have intelligent campuses. I think that learning will be different and there will be more of a focus on the lecturer supporting individual learning, although face-to-face connections won’t be lost. Thanks to digital, learning will be more engaging, giving students more flexibility. We will also be able to work with predictive analytics from real-life data, meaning that we will be able to identify students who require extra support, and use the data to support their learner journey progression. Future campuses will be efficient and intelligent, like Forth Valley College’s new building in Falkirk. The way we deliver our learning will be much smarter.’

The Digital Ambition Roadshows are taking place throughout Scotland this Autumn – what can attendees expect?

‘Attendees will work together in small groups, sharing vision, expertise and expectations. They will be given a series of questions and will be asked to think outside the box and look to the future. Five or six questions will be posed over three hours. We want to build up a picture of what the sector will look like in 2030.’

Why should college students and college staff attend?

‘This is an opportunity for everyone to tell us their thoughts about what they think the future of learning in colleges could look like. We want to hear recommendations from students and staff, and we will do our best to pull together a collective picture of the sector. We’d like everyone to get involved – from college students to sports staff, technical staff and professional staff.’

What will happen with all the information that’s gathered on the Digital Ambition Roadshow?

‘All of the information gathered will be pulled together and the complete document will be presented to the Scottish Government. Individual colleges can use the document to decide how they will plan for the future.’

How can participants remain part of the conversation and keep up to date with news about Digital Ambition 2030?

‘The completed Digital Ambition 2030 report will be sent out to everyone involved, sometime in March 2020. There will also be two online webinars. You can keep up to date by following #DigitalAmbition on Twitter and we will share the strategy on the Colleges Scotland website.’

Stirling’s free Digital Ambition Roadshow is happening at Forth Valley College on Friday 8 November. 

Find your nearest college event here.

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