Award for commitment to developing the IT skills people need

Excellence in Education Awards: Excellent Educator Award winner

  • Date

    Mon 31 Jan 22

Sally Swaine profile picture

Sally Swaine has received an Excellent Educator Award in our Excellence in Education Awards thanks to her dedication to helping students and staff develop the IT skills they need.

Running the IT and Digital Skills Training Team, Sally collaborates with teams across the University to improve digital skills. As the IT and Digital Skills Coordinator in the Customer Support Services Team in our Digital Innovation and Technology Services section, she delivers Microsoft and IT training for staff and students including the development of online learning via the IT Training Toolkit in Moodle.

Customer Support Services Team Leader Alex O’Neill said: “Sally will never stop in pushing to provide an excellent service, helping individuals with all the time she can spare but ensuring she can provide training to as many people as possible. Her training programme is already a solid provision embedded in the success of Essex, and I can only foresee this growing and becoming more successful as the need for digital skills increases.

“I believe Sally not only demonstrates impact at Essex directly with her work but is an inspiration to others with her dedication and resolve.”

In the years of being in her role, the IT and Digital Skills Training team has been through many changes: the direction and size of the team has constantly evolved and last year Sally, along with the rest of the University, had the challenge of responding to the COVID crisis.

Alex said: “Through all this, Sally has not only consistently delivered excellent training courses, but has improved and increased her breadth of delivery, course regularity, number of attendees and impact. She has shown dedication to her work and to the institution’s aims of excellence in education and research.”

Sally is delivering IT training to hundreds of staff and students, receiving excellent feedback from those attending her sessions and she also offers one-to-one sessions when needed to make sure people get the support they need.

One student told Sally how important her Excel skills were in getting a new job. They told her getting the job “would not have been possible without attending the training with you” and added: “Thank you so much for running these Excel courses, and for teaching them so accessibly. I can’t explain how much difference they have made to my understanding, my ability, and my confidence.”

Sally has managed to scale up the offer at Essex to provide relevant training to all through online live class delivery, an IT Training Toolkit on Moodle, and the promotion of the LinkedIn Learning platform.

When faced by the impact of COVID in 2020, Sally swiftly moved all her regular classroom training online, which increased capacity for all of her courses. She taught more people than ever in 2020-21, and delivered IT induction training to hundreds of students in the first two weeks of term.

In December 2020, Sally launched the IT Training Toolkit in Moodle, a suite of varied training materials developed single-handedly with an aim to deliver her course content to more people and expand her modes of delivery.

She also initiated a project to increase engagement with LinkedIn Learning, particularly targeting final year students to provide them with the opportunity to develop their skills further after a tumultuous year and before they headed out into the job market.

The increase in engagement is so high that LinkedIn Learning itself highlighted Essex as one of the top performers against other comparable institutions in Higher Education for both user activation and user engagement.

Collaborating with others to deliver IT skills has been a regular feature of Sally’s work. She has worked with Skills for Success, responding to student need and providing training in Excel, Word and Outlook, the Library to support IT skills for researchers, and Organisational Development in providing induction training for staff and postgraduate researchers. Most notably, she worked alongside the TEL Team in March and October in 2020, delivering Zoom training to academics to support the move to online teaching in March and dual delivery teaching in October.

Sally’s training has also expanded to include members of our wider community, with attendees from our YUFE partners in Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Cyprus and Finland.