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Joint response to the CAVTL

Joint response
Supporting evidence
About us and XtLearn
Exemplar practiceThese collections have been made by practitioners collaborating around the various themes illustrated in our joint response and show just how flexible and adaptable individuals and their organisations can be when empowered by the right tools and support.
ShillitoIm glad I now registered
Rod Paley Creator
Fred Garnett Project Team
Geoff Rebbeck Project Team
Rod Paley Project team
Nigel Ecclesfield Project Team
Robin Skelcey Technical Support

Joint Response to the call for evidence from the Commission on Adult and Vocational Teaching and Learning (October 2012)

Key Characteristics of this joint response

The substantive part of our evidence comes from a recent survey of 1000 practitioners working in the full range of FE Colleges and whose practice reveals an effective transformation of teaching and learning practice through their confident use of a wide-range of digital tools and resources. We argue that their exemplary practice as ‘digital practitioners’ can best be described as ‘artfully-constructing student-centred learning experiences’.

We think that this raises 5 key points for this commission to review;

  • authentic learning
  • enabling digital practice
  • the professional use of ‘social’ technology
  • the need for flexible and adaptive providers,
  • dealing with the future in the present 

The three respondents have been involved in the adult vocational sector for over twenty years and have been extensively engaged with developments in technology in the FE and Skills sector in the UK from 2000 onwards, working in further education colleges, the sector inspectorates, Becta, LSIS, JISC, NIACE and Government Departments in the UK. This response to the call for evidence from the commission draws upon our recent work together for LSIS, JISC Advance and collaborative work for the London Knowledge Lab and other HE institutions looking at professional development, learning theory and organisational development and quality improvement in the context of learning. Our collaborator is a principal at Xtensis who has been involved in developing open source technologies for practitioners and learners in the sector including the curation and support for nln learning resources. We are also presenting the supporting evidence for our conclusions within the environment developed by Xtensis called to provide a means to show the range and scope of our evidence and the practical work undertaken with the sector that explores the two key purposes of the Commission in UK and wider international settings.





Nigel Ecclesfield

Nigel Ecclesfieldt

Nigel Ecclesfield is currently working as a Programme Manager at JISC Advance for the FE and Skills Development and Resources Programme supporting project work to repurpose existing resources and develop innovative uses of technology through provider projects throughout the UK. Nigel has been engaged in educational research since 1985 working for national agencies, European projects and higher education institutions.

From 1978 to 2003 he worked in FE colleges in a range of roles and from 2001 has been an inspector with a focus on Community Learning based on his community work in London, Liverpool and Devon. From 2003 he has worked for Becta, managing national surveys of the further education sector and LSIS, working on a range of technology projects and survey work. He is particularly interested in the role of organisations and their influence on practitioner uses of technology, learner-centric education, teacher education and open scholarship.

Geoff Rebbeck Cert. Ed. B.Sc. Hons. FIfL FRSA QTLS

Geoff Rebbeck

Has spent 17 years teaching in Further Education, starting out as a lecturer in Health and Social Care. Prior to joining Thanet College he worked in the NHS as a Hospital Manager both in East Kent and in the Lake District.

He now works as a Freelance e-learning expert.

He was an original ILT champion in FE and whilst at Thanet College explored constantly the possibility improving teaching and learning through technology. Thanet was a National finalist in the Beacon College awards in 2006 in the ‘creating an e-enabling organisation’ category and again in 2008 for staff development for work on e-portfolios. The College joined the BECTA Technology Exemplar Network in 2009.

He worked with BECTA on the first round of the e-maturity Project, completing work on aspects of staff development.

He has recently published with Nigel Ecclestone and Fred Garnet, through LSIS a major research study involving the stories of 996 teachers on FE teacher attitudes to using technology in teaching. He has presented across the UK in both FE and HE on matters relating to e-learning including e-learning strategies from Northern Ireland colleges to Highlands College in the Channel islands.

He is an LSIS associate working on their Leadership with Technology programme and leading on a new tool to measure progression with e-learning in the FE world.

He has worked with the IfL as a Regional Adviser and is on the IfL panel of Professional Formation Reviewers. He is currently working with the IfL in supporting their Teacher Research programme.

He won the 2008/9 LSIS National STAR Award for the Innovation category and was recognised at the 2008 BECTA Future Learning Awards, primarily for work in developing personal learning space for teachers.

Particular interests include curriculum redesign using Moodle, as well as mapping and reflective personal learning space and the creation/integration of e-learning strategies into good teaching & learning in FE.

He was the first to graduate from the University of Greenwich in 2007 with an education degree that specialised in e-learning.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Institute for Learning and holds Qualified Teacher, Learning and Skills status.

Fred Garnett

Fred Garnett

Fred has been working with adult vocational education teaching and learning since 1982, initially with Lewisham College where he taught and managed computing courses before working as Dame Ruth Silver’s Policy Assistant and Community Projects Officer. As part of the TaLENT project he helped create a Community Grid for Learning in Lewisham delivering ICT Literacy training for teachers. As Head of Community Programmes at Becta he lead on ICT Learning as part of the £250m CALL initiative reporting to the DfES, DCMS, Cabinet Office and Office of the e-envoy, advising NOF on national digitisation projects.

As a Strategic Analyst for post-compulsory education at Becta he worked on national policy development with both DfES & DCMS (Participative Media Literacy OFCOM) He was interactivity designer for the Xchange e-learning policy conferences organised by Prime Minister Tony Blair. He won £2m from LSC to develop the e-enabling Offender Learning programme with NIACE. 

Since leaving Becta he has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Sussex and the London Knowledge Lab, where he leads on Digital Literacy. As a consultant he advises NIACE on Digital Inclusion, LSIS on Digital Practice and the BBC on Open Learning.

Rod Paley

Rod Paley

Rod is Managing Director of Xtensis.

He has focussed on building strategic relationships both in government, academia and provider organisations and has significantly strengthened the company’s profile and reputation in the market.

Through his work with practitioners, commercial partners and government agencies, Rod has accumulated valuable expertise and insight into the practical application of technology to support teaching and learning and to re-orient existing processes and organisational arrangements.

Under Rod’s leadership, Xtensis successfully ran the National Learning Network (NLN) Materials Service funded by the then LSC and rolled out to over 25,000 users across the ACL, FE and WBL sector. Xtensis developed a range of tools for that service including the ability to make customisable collections of NLN materials which could easily be made available to learners. The feedback received from practitioners acted as a catalyst for the development of the platform – an extension of the original NLN collections feature and now available separately as a “freemium” online platform that enables practitioners to create and customise collections of resources from any source, and share with colleagues and learners on any platform. It is this platform which is being used to showcase the Joint Response to the CAVTL call for evidence.

Rod brings to the CAVTL response extensive experience in organisational planning and implementation.

He has substantial management experience at a high level in the UK, US and the Far East.


The idea behind this Joint Response “project page” on is to provide dynamic links both to the Joint Response itself, to collections of resources which illustrate and support our submission and to a blog where comments and feedback can be exchanged.

We have, since 2006, been developing models of professional skills and practices in teaching and learning which have been published by national agencies, academic journals and as part of publications by government agencies and the inspectorates as well as contributing to conferences, Government consultations and workshops and training events for managers and practitioners. As this work and the various publications we have produced have a bearing on our comments, it is being cited and links to collections within provided to allow closer scrutiny of the evidence and questions raised by this work in the context of the Commission and the call for evidence. You can find these collections under the “Supporting evidence” tab.

The Joint Response itself - together with accompanying slides to provide another, more visual, route into the evidence and the materials - can be found under the “Joint response” tab.

We also provide short CVs to support our opening statement under the “Bios” tab.

We are linking to all these resources using the social bookmarking and scrap-booking site to highlight just how seamlessly web 2.0 technologies can support the transmission of ideas and practice across the sector. has been developed to enable practitioners to create and share collections of resources easily. We are using it in this instance to showcase our own work and ideas as part of our Joint Response.  Elsewhere it is being used by a range of providers and networks across FE, adult learning, schools and special needs to act as a catalyst for improvement via collaboration.

By partnering in this way to create and share collections of resources it is possible to:

a) Promote professional development and support the growth of "digital practice" and "professional use of ‘social’ technology"

  • teachers from different providers get to work and develop together
  • make their teaching ideas and designs explicit and customised to the context and needs of the learner ("authentic learning")
  • build on ideas and designs of one another
  • adopt, adapt, test and improve designs
  • provide support/feedback to one another.

b) Promote partnership:

  • the model enables, encourages and rewards sharing
  • teachers contribute collections to the pool as well as borrow from it (and are recognised for doing so)
  • deepens knowledge and expertise
  • engages peers and students in process.

c) Provide a sustainable model for ongoing collaboration by "flexible and adaptable" providers:

  • valuable and constantly updated pool of resources, designs and expertise
  • enables ongoing innovation and collaboration whereby providers can constantly "deal with the future in the present"
  • flexible, scalable model which aids provider improvement whilst saving money, energy and time.

As such, many of the ideas we espouse in our response are enshrined in this model of collaborative practice development. It is anticipated that links to exemplar collections of resources generated by the sector will be added to this project page over time to further illustrate the ideas behind this Joint Response and the practice that flows from it. See the "Exemplar practice" tab.

These collections have been made by practitioners collaborating around the various themes illustrated in our joint response and show just how flexible and adaptable individuals and their organisations can be when empowered by the right tools and support.



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