More than 500 Bridgwater & Taunton College (BTC) students have received iPads as part of a pioneering digital strategy that is transforming teaching and learning at the College.
The first phase of the project saw full-time students studying A Levels, T Levels, the International Baccalaureate (IB) and at the National College for Nuclear and their tutors receive iPads. The Level 3 students are studying courses at the same academic level, but span a range of subject areas, meaning that they need access to a variety of different multimedia resources. Their lessons also involve different learning contexts, including group as well as personal and remote study.
The apps installed on the iPads are all designed to support the students’ study and improve communication, as well as giving them the opportunity to gain experience with programmes that are staples of the workplace, such as MS Office 365.
Both staff and students have been trained to use the devices, but the scheme is designed to identify ways to enhance learning using new technology and digital tools. All users are encouraged to give regular feedback and a group of 20 Student Digital Ambassadors work closely with both the College and their peers, sharing tips and ideas.
The pilot scheme is already garnering excellent feedback from both staff and students, and transforming how students and staff learn and teach. Benefits range from not having to carry heavy books to and from lessons, easy access to images, videos and other educational resources, and the ability to study at any time and in any location.
Student Joe Keaney, who went to Heathfield Community School before joining BTC, said
A lot of barriers are removed by having an iPad. When I was doing my GCSEs, I used a computer with access to lots of social apps, so could get very distracted. Because the iPads are programmed with apps specifically chosen to support my study, like Microsoft and Blackboard, I can be really dedicated and keep on top of my work. The main reason I chose BTC was the football. I play for Team BTC, so I sometimes miss lessons because of matches. The iPads mean lessons can be recorded, so after the match, I can catch up and successfully do my work.
Former Brymore School pupil Marley Scriven said
It’s made talking to my teachers a lot easier. Last year, I found it hard to log in to emails, so I didn’t receive them. This year, they all appear straight away on my iPad, and using Teams means that I can just message my lecturers, often getting a response straight away. Because the iPad is portable, I can go from classroom to classroom using it. Even better, because I have a long journey to College, I can work while on the bus. I don’t need to pack up all my textbooks at college, travel home, then unpack again before finally getting to work. Instead, I can just get in and get started.
Joe Pittard, a former Bridgwater College Academy pupil, said
Having an iPad means that we’re all equal. It doesn’t matter what our background is or how much money our family has, we all have an iPad to use, a tool that we can use to boost our education. Pre-pandemic, we mainly used books, while the world around us uses digital technologies, so the iPads offer 21st century learning, not just preparing us for exams and the work, but the rest of the world around us. Using an iPad takes our education into the modern world and makes it relevant.
Matt Tudor, Director of Digital Innovation, said
BTC created a Digital Skills Team in early 2020 with the aim of identifying and exploring ways in which we could innovate using technology, enhancing the student experience and creating a learning environment fit for the Digital Age. As staff and student feedback shows, it’s already transforming what we do in a practical, meaningful and above all positive way. By supplying standard devices and underpinning the project with training, we’re ensuring parity between both staff and students, giving everyone equal opportunity to thrive in this environment. With the success of phase one, we’re delighted to be in a position to develop this project further and widen the group of students involved.
The next phase of the project will see iPads provided to students on the Nursing degree, a new course based at University Centre Somerset in Taunton. For more information about A Level, T Level, IB and other Level 3 courses available at BTC, please click on the links to visit our course information or search pages.