Adult students are given their own digital device – thanks to the Good Things Foundation

Adult students are given their own digital device – thanks to the Good Things Foundation

New City College adult students who have special needs or disabilities have been given an internet connection, data and a digital device for them to keep.

These students are often excluded from technology because they do not have the digital skills necessary or the access to a device, such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet.

But thanks to funding from The Good Things Foundation, New City College has been able to provide 200 devices and the support to help students learn how to use them safely and confidently.

The funding is part of a Digital Lifeline initiative which was launched to help improve the lives of those students with learning disabilities who have little or no access to modern technology and the benefits it can bring. It was found that during the lockdowns, access to technology helped people with learning disabilities stay connected, reduced loneliness and supported their mental health and wellbeing.

Andy Greaves, Deputy Group Curriculum Director for Creative and Digital at New City College, said that it had been a combined effort across the college with many teams involved in making the initiative a success.

He said: “Lockdown brought into sharp focus the need to provide our learners with both the skills and the tools to engage digitally for study, employment and life – and this project has helped us take positive steps to address this.

“As with any large-scale project there were a lot of unsung heroes who helped achieve this amazing feat, particularly staff from our Estates, IT and curriculum admin teams who really got behind the initiative to offer their time and expertise.”

IT work experience students and those on Supported Internship programmes helped to set up the Lenovo digital tablets with 24gb of free data, and a protective case and stylus, so that they were ready to be used as soon as they were taken out of the box.

Next, the Supported Learning teams at each of NCC’s campuses, worked with the SEND teams to identify students and distribute the devices to them, ensuring they had 1-to-1 support, so they understood how to make the most of their new devices. Small group drop-in workshops were also available to ensure learners had the support often needed when getting to grips with new technology.

Andy added: “So many people in the college pulled together to make this happen. There were a lot of logistical challenges in terms of storing, setting up and moving the devices and a lot of background administration, but it has been wonderful to see so many of our adult SEND learners benefit from the initiative.”