11 May 2021

Digital skills in the Prison Framework


Novus Digital Learning Lead Steve Grix has spent 18 months researching the importance of digital skills to learners in the Prison Education Framework, which covers a core curriculum of English, maths, ICT and ESOL. In his blog, Steve writes about his research and about innovative approaches to teaching digital skills in the prison environment. Some key points from his blog are: 

The importance of digital skills 

Published research shows that people who have ‘Essential Digital Skills’ are more employable, more socially mobile and have a higher level of personal wellbeing. For prisoners these skills are crucial to their success on release, in terms of being able to get a job, accessing important support services and maintaining positive social connections. 

Issues around the delivery of digital skills courses in prisons

Security constraints around prison classroom technology make it very difficult to meet all the criteria required for the delivery of accredited Essential Digital Skills courses. However, it is possible to embed digital in almost everything we offer, as we do with maths and English – it is the third functional skill. 

Positive approaches to support Learners' digital skills development in a prison context could include:

  • Teaching digital skills without computers - many key digital topics better lend themselves to being taught through discussion and collaboration to produce a non-digital output.
  • Using Star Ratings to peer review work in construction and other vocational workshops to emulate the experience of online reviews and trade comparison websites.
  • Planning an effective professional/social media profile or e-portfolio as a group using drag and drop flashcards.
  • Using key digital issues as speaking and listening topics for English exams. 

Three key questions

  • What skills naturally occur within the context of my teaching, learning and assessment?
  • The jobs I am preparing my learners for have important digital skills requirements – what are these and how can I prepare my learners for them?
  • What opportunities exist for me to embed digital skills but also utilise technology to enhance delivery and improve the learning experience?

Steve says that in order to effectively embed digital skills in the day-to-day learning activities we support or manage, we need to understand them and build our own. He advises: "Please do not sit on your hands and wait for someone to train you – a digital practitioner is someone willing and able to train themselves on how to use new software or build on their existing knowledge. You have more power than anyone to evoke positive change for your learners."

Read the blog in full here


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