TEACHING staff and businesses from across the country have been tapping into North East expertise as college tutors continue to lead the way in using technology in remote learning.

Darlington College has been a pioneer in testing and developing online teaching platforms with journalism trainees and apprentices taking up the challenge successfully several years ago.

The skills they and their lecturers have learned have been shared across other curriculum areas leaving Darlington College at the vanguard of remote learning, a feat recognised recently by the Government which has designated it an ‘EdTech demonstrator college’ to help schools.

In the most recent development, tutors and experts from national technical and teacher training support company Vitalize delivered a webinar, covering the Cloud, Microsoft and Google Education tools, attracting close to 50 delegates from across the UK.

Darlington College’s staff coach and programme leader for business and computing Wayne Hall, who presented, said: “I was delighted how many people joined the webinar, more than had actually registered interest as the link must have been passed round.

“We are ahead of the curve when it comes to using technology and with the latest lockdown more people are beginning to realise this, including the Government which has just awarded us EdTech Demonstrator status.”

Vitalize chief executive Stuart Brown added: “Darlington College is in the top five per cent of establishments in the country for the way it is delivering learning through technology.

“Embracing the Cloud has never been as imperative and the current lockdown is proving to be a real driver in the development of remote learning. Darlington College shows how students can successfully carry on with their studies virtually.”

For the past three years Darlington College’s journalism department has been working with the National Council for the Training of Journalists, using Google Meet and Google Classroom remote learning platforms, to train junior apprentices, junior and senior community reporters.

Lecturer Sue Calvert said: “We use virtual classrooms and webinars and it works really well. We can present to them and they can present to us; we can have discussions and they can work on assignments.

“We have developed a very positive virtual community which is really comfortable using the technology. We get really strong engagement and the lockdown has made little difference to us.”

In the most recent college webinar delegates from as far away as Kent, Surrey and Newcastle joined an hour-long session of presentations, debate and questions and answers. Written questions could also be posted and the whole session was recorded and placed on YouTube.

Vitalize Google Educator Andrew Hartley said: “This will totally transform learning and it is going to be interesting for students who are working successfully on line when they go back into the classroom.”

Mr Hall added: “This has been a real step change, education has changed and I can’t see it going back. We are preparing our students for a world where they will work more remotely. Technology allows us to be a lot more flexible with the way we deliver education.

“This college has the best equipment and is not frightened to try, to experiment and we share our experiences across all departments. We have built up a lot of experience in remote learning and are more than happy to share this with whoever needs it.”

For more information on opportunities at Darlington College visit www.darlington.ac.uk or for EdTech demonstrator https://edtech-demonstrator.lgfl.net/home.