College Connect July 2023

Askham Bryan College has won a prestigious Educate North Award for training students in the latest digital technology skills after unveiling £1 million of new high tech facilities.

Here, Stacy Vipas, Head of Digital Learning, explains why digital skills are vital to students and employers, and how the College is responding to industry needs as part the Yorkshire and Humber Institute of Technology.

Why do digital skills matter?

Our world faces fast paced change. We are seeing significant changes in skills needs with big data, artificial intelligence and robotics.

Land based industry leaders have told us that it is important to digitally upskill the future workforce.

As a specialist land based college, we are in a prime position to be able to develop talent to respond to current and future challenges for the economy and environment.

It is very much about meeting the needs of employers and providing the latest technical and professional training to the future workforce.

We are committed to pioneering practices and digital technology and enhancing digital teaching, digital learning, digital assessment and digital upskilling as reflected in our Vision 2030.

We want all of our students to have a digital mindset from the start and be inspired by the way that technology can have a positive impact on their future careers.

Our new high tech digital facilities are taking teaching and learning to a new level. They are providing exciting ways to engage students in curriculum.

Tell us more about the new digital facilities

We are really excited to have opened our new £1 million Digital Skills Academy at our York campus, which is fitted with the latest equipment to develop students’ digital capabilities.

The purpose is to educate students in the latest skills that employers need in line with emerging digital technology industry trends.

There are some amazing facilities, all housed in a new building, which include media production pods, a virtual reality suite and a learning room.

The equipment includes immersive and interactive technology such as 360 degree video cameras and virtual reality headsets, which are used for coursework and assessments.

All of this has been made possible by the Yorkshire and Humber Institute of Technology, which Askham Bryan College is part of.

The academy has been funded by York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership through the government’s Getting Building Fund to develop capacity in digital teaching, learning, assessment and upskilling.

How are students developing their skills and benefitting from the new facilities?

Students are really enjoying the opportunity to use our new technology and showing great pride in the work they are producing.

For example, animal management students have created digital resources for their assessment tasks.

These have included creating three-dimensional animal enclosures. Students have then explained their work in virtual reality videos.

Using 360 cameras, students have also created immersive animal keeper talks, which have helped to prepare them for future roles in the industry.

Equine students have created coaching videos to improve rider performance. Meanwhile, trainee vet nurses and sports coaching students have ‘visited’ virtual environments.

As part of their learning, they have been able to explore and explain to their teachers the impending risks that a virtual scene presents whilst being in a safe, immersive environment.

Through the use of 360 camera technology, students have also been able to build their confidence rehearsing interview scenarios and practicing their skills in a safe environment.

Meanwhile, our higher education students at University Centre Askham Bryan have used live stream technology to showcase dissections and record them for future use.

We have linked with employers to create resources for students to learn from. Students are demonstrating their learning beyond the realms of traditional assessment practices.

How do you feel about the College winning an Educate North Award?

It’s fantastic! We feel very proud to have won the Digital Education and Development category of this year’s awards.

The awards celebrate excellence and best practice in the education sector. Entries are received from colleges, sixth forms and universities across the North – the competition is tough!

Winning the award is testament to the hard work of our staff and students and recognises our commitment to creating an innovative and inspirational curriculum.

Find out more about how to apply for our courses starting in September.

Askham Bryan College Video