The London Connected Learning Center


Sarah Horrocks, head of the CLC, considers it essential to work with the partners they have in the community to reach people (libraries, educational centers and employability centers)

In terms of equity, she believes that "if for reasons of gender, origin or disability you are already excluded in some areas of life, the most likely thing is that you also have less developed digital skills and therefore suffer from a double gap"

During the last 23 years, the LondonConnected Learning Center (henceforth, The CLC) has worked with students, teachers and families on their connection and development with the digital world. In order to accompany them in their digital training, their task has been to look for different proposals aimed at generating actions with community impact.

At the head of this pioneering organization for 19 years is Sarah Horrocks, previously a primary school teacher, who is now a leading expert on digital inclusion and distance learning, among others. Through a conversation, we review with her the work done by the organization, its challenges and the legacy it leaves behind.

As part of its services, The CLC offered different training and consultancy projects adapted to the educational players it was targeting. In some cases, they also set up joint trainings, as is the case with learning and creation projects for families and children. In general, for any project they carried out, thefinal goal was to develop in all the actors involved a feeling of empowerment to become active members in society through the personal development of digital skills and competences.

During this work, the foundation encountered different challenges and obstacles to operate. But, as Sarah points out, one of the main ones was finding and involving the people they were working for: groups in a vulnerable situation, where they believed actions should be carried out as a priority. For her, the keys to facing this challenge were twofold. First, work with the partners they had in the community to reach people. Above all, they collaborated with educational centers, libraries and employment centers. This also enhanced one of its main purposes, involving people from the community and the associative fabric. Subsequently, it was also crucial to develop different ways of connecting with people, offering from closer and direct treatment with personalized consultancy, to more general models such as workshops or online training.

Although the entity has recently stopped its activities and functions, all the people involved in the project will continue to work on this purpose from different areas such as consulting, or in projects linked to the world of education. In this sense, Sarah places us several challenges to take into account when working on Digital Equity, such as digital well-being, especially linked to mental health and social networks; the digital exclusion that often comes conditioned by previous social exclusion. It sounds reasonable to think that if for reasons of gender, origin or disability you are already excluded in some areas of life, the most likely thing is that you also have less developed digital skills, and this feeds back on the other exclusion (double disadvantage); oel bridge (bridge) school-world of work. However, for her the main challenge that we will have to put on the table will be the confrontation with a massive digitization that we have been forced to carry out throughout the pandemic and that has been done in many cases, due to the urgency, in such a way uncritical and without fully knowing who governs it, and what it entails as a future, especially in matters such as privacy.

Faced with this problem, he does not propose any definitive solution, but instead tells us about two elements that he considers essential. The first, responds to his ideal vision of the relationship between teachers and technology. He envisions a reflective faculty, who feel confident with technology and who are sufficiently trained to adapt to different platforms and incorporate technology in a balanced and critical way. On the other hand, as the entity's experience has shown, the guarantee to achieve a real impact in terms of equity involves linking the community in the process. This perspective of a community network will allow you to reach the families who need this support at the first moment, and at the same time, it will allow you to have their needs at the center.

As part of their legacy, they tell us that over the past twenty-five years they have worked directly with approximately 40,000 teachers in the UK alone. In Sarah's words, if each teacher can be teaching 25 students per class, that would mean an indirect impact of approximately one million students. Among the projects carried out, we would like to highlight some of the reference ones that indicate certain paths to follow in favor of digital equity.

In order to organize the necessary digital knowledge and skills, they developed a curriculum for the effective incorporation of computational technologies in the classroom. Along with this, they offered support and instruction to teachers, with whom they have both training and consultancy available. They also included workshops for students and technology kits for classes.

Training for teachers, principals and other educators to incorporate the Blended Learning pedagogy into their teaching-learning processes. In this sense, this pedagogy seeks the effective combination of activities both inside and outside the classroom where digital technologies are used (what we can know as a hybrid school). In addition, the content of these trainings would also focus on the provision of resources that can be adapted to the context of each center and community.

Through the educational centers, they reached people within the communities who had sufficient computational skills to support other people. These people were in charge of leading sessions for adults in their community where they could develop these skills, and they were held in various spaces such as libraries, employment and training centers.format peer to peer (peer learning) allowed a greater connection between trainer and trainee.

Teacher training focused on understanding the skills identified as necessary for future jobs. This training is done by connecting the faculty with partners in the digital and cultural industry in London.

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