COLLEGE staff have won high praise from a global leader in IT for embracing technology so effectively, placing them in the vanguard of remote learning.
Darlington College had already been chosen by the Government to help other schools and colleges maximise their use of technology to teach students in their own homes.
Now, global leader in technology Google has awarded the college, the only one in the North East, the prestigious Google Reference College status, recognising staff’s expertise and the wide-spread use of their products including more than 500 Chromebooks.
A designated Google college for the past four years, the accolade cements Darlington College’s national reputation for the use of technology.
It also means it will become a testbed for new Google hardware and software.
Darlington College’s project manager for Ed Tech Demonstrator Project Wayne Hall said: “We have always been quick to seize any opportunity which improves the learning outcomes for students and the professional development of staff – and technology has certainly done that.
“We have seen an improvement in grades because of the seamlessness of the workflow by using Google for Education.
“This latest development is so exciting and, with the pandemic, has come at the right time. It has forced people to look at technology and education and see it as a ‘must’ rather than something that is ‘nice’ to have. It has highlighted just how fragile conventional education is unless you have a robust on-line presence and we are looking forward to working with even more schools and colleges to help them develop their skills.”
Mr Hall said the pandemic and lockdown had shown the world of business what could be achieved remotely and more and more organisations were looking at move to work remotely.
“We are preparing our students for this brave new world and they are leaving us with highly developed skills in technological collaboration for careers which are likely to be run much more remotely and with greater flexibility, with all the associated benefits for the environment.”
Technology skills have been shared across all curriculum areas at Darlington College, a feat recognised recently by the Government which designated it an ‘Ed Tech Demonstrator College’ to help schools across the country, but particularly in the North East and North Yorkshire.
College staff have already held webinars, with the support of the national technical and training company Vitalize, with schools, colleges and businesses from across the country on the use of technology.
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 were also posted and the whole session was recorded and placed on YouTube.
Although Darlington College uses Google for Education extensively, its staff also uses Microsoft products across the curriculum including Office 365 and Teams.
Mr Hall added: “This has been a real step change; education has changed and I can’t see it going back.”