BYOD or Bring Your Own Device

The College’s Learning Technology team is back with a brand new blog post!

This post will summarise some useful (and free) ways student devices can be used within the classroom as a means to enhance participation, create opportunities for collaboration, and overall just provide further ways to make learning more interesting.


BYOD might sound like YAA (Yet Another Acronym) if there wasn’t enough already, but it is a very useful concept to consider in modern education.

Essentially most students have smartphones, and smartphones can access the internet and download educational apps.

It would seem a shame and a missed opportunity to not make use of this trend since half of the trouble – and most of the cost – has already been spent by the student purchasing these devices.

Thinglink

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Thinglink is very straightforward and easy to use. It comprises an image which is either taken from the web or from your own computer and this image is used as a virtual pin board whereby either the lecturer or the students can pin information onto it – whether that information is text, a web address, another image or even an embedded video is entirely up to the individual doing the pinning.

Once created on their website the Thinglink can be embedded within Moodle on a course page by pasting the html code into Moodle’s html editor (ask us at moodle@ayrshire.ac.uk if you need help with this).

It is easy to envisage how this tool can be used within the context of BYOD. Students already enrolled on a Moodle course will then be able to interact with the image using their smartphones to login to Moodle and the activity could be displayed on a smart board so everyone can see the interaction in progress.

Padlet

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Padlet is basically a collaborative wall for students or staff to post information. It is more like a virtual pin board where students can upload images, share links, or simply their written ideas. This suits being displayed on a smart board so that everyone can see what is going on.

Setting up a Padlet wall is very quick, and once again only requires a link to be shared to students. Padlet can be embedded on a Moodle page in exactly the same way as Thinglink and other forms of media.

Moodle Quiz 

One of the good things about the quizzes on Moodle is that they are often easy to complete on any device whether that be a PC, a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Students will have no trouble accessing these forms of activity as long as they are already enrolled on the Moodle page.

Being able to access Moodle outside of college also makes these activities doable in any setting such as on a fieldtrip. Even in areas where there is no wireless access students will commonly receive a mobile network connection to the internet.

If you have any questions regarding students using their own devices in or outside the classroom, on potential apps or learning tools please just ask us: moodle@ayrshire.ac.uk.

This Man Cares – Paul McGuffie

Ayrshire College encourages the promotion, training and recruitment of men in early years childcare courses and inspires more men to consider a career in childcare. 

Men can bring different perspectives and new ideas to the job and be positive role models for children.

Paul McGuffie

#ThisManCares

Paul McGuffie, of Galston, has no regrets that he swapped his previous job of sixteen years as a driver for Barrs, before going to college to study childcare.  He felt that childcare was a career path he would like to pursue when his own children were younger. Paul initially studied NC Early Education and Childcare, before moving on to successfully complete HNC Early Education and Childcare at Ayrshire College

Dorothy Bell, Lecturer, Early Education said “Paul achieved a high level of work in his HNC Early Education and Childcare. He had excellent placement feedback and achieved glowing reports about his use of initiative and interaction with children and staff. This led to him securing employment at Shortlees Early Childhood and Family Centre.”

Paul has been employed with Shortlees ever since, and now works with 3 to 6 year old children.  He would like to continue studying and further enhance his skills with the aim of going to university to study BA Childhood Studies.

About his time at the College, Dorothy Bell also commented “Paul continued to provide mentoring support for subsequent male students. He has always been a role model and ambassador for Early Years.  It is crucial to encourage men into childcare as children benefit from having a positive male role model, and having a balance of men and women in the workforce brings different approaches, outlooks and styles to working with children”.

Paul said “It’s very important for children to have female and male role models, to help them develop, but also, for different kinds of understanding, interaction and play.  I’m passionate that more men should be encouraged to work in the industry”.


Early Education course applications are open for August 2016. Find out more about courses, email Lynsey.reid@ayrshire.ac.uk or phone 01294 559000 ext 3249.

 

This Man Cares – Gary Reid

When the daughter of 49-year-old househusband Gary Reid was accepted onto Ayrshire College’s HNC Health Care course in 2012, he never imagined he would be following in her footsteps a few years later.


Gary Reid

#ThisManCares

Gary had written himself off and did not think a return to education was an option for him.

However, when his daughter Rebecca could not attend her course induction, Gary went along to gather the information for her.

He was impressed with what he heard, but it was not until Rebecca qualified and got a job as a nurse that Gary decided to enquire about the course for himself.

Gary had plenty of experience to draw on; he has “always been the one people come to”. He nursed his Dad when he passed away with cancer, and helped his Mum with her diabetes, dementia and then latterly heart problems. The care sector was his calling – he just thought he had missed the boat.

Yet Gary has proved that you are never too old to start a new career. After attending Ayrshire College’s ‘This Man Cares’ event, he enrolled on the Pathways to Care course.

“That event was definitely what made my mind up”, Gary said.  “I’m almost 50 years old – I’d written myself off. I wish I’d done this ten years ago.”

Explaining why he is doing it now, Gary said “Basically, Rebecca had moved in with me four years ago, and where we lived wasn’t far from the College’s Ayr campus. So, I said to her “you’re not sitting about here doing nothing – get yourself along to the College and see what they’ve got to offer you”.

“She had expressed an interest in becoming a nurse previously and said there was a Care course that she was interested in but that she had an appointment somewhere else and couldn’t get to the induction.

“So I went along instead to get her all the forms, and seeing how well the course had set her up got me interested.”

Although Gary has followed his daughter Rebecca into the same course, he has no plans to mirror Rebecca’s career path and become a hospital nurse. Instead he wants to go into either nurseries or nursing homes – a decision he will make next year when he’s working towards an HNC in Care.

He speaks with pride when he talks about his daughter’s progress.

Gary said “I’m made up with how she turned her life around in the last four years – and it’s all down to this course. If she hadn’t have done this course, I’m not sure what she’d be doing now.

“With the nursing I know she’s doing something positive with her life.”


Jackie McLellan, Head of Learning and Skills for Care at Ayrshire College said “We are keen for men who are considering a career in care to be aware of the support that’s available if they do apply to College.”
Find out more about courses by emailing Lynsey.reid@ayrshire.ac.uk or phoning 01294 559000 ext 3249.

Pitching the Perfect idea

Ayrshire College students had the opportunity by the anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth to provide a cutting edge idea for its next campaign.

Groups from the 24/7 Plus course from Ayr, Kilmarnock and Kilwinning each had to come up with their own innovative concepts for the ‘Pitch Perfect’ competition, and present them to a panel of judges.

There could only be one winner and smiles were etched on the faces of the Ayr team when they were told the good news!

However, the high quality of all three entries has given Nil By Mouth some great ideas to progress with.

Here we speak to Dionne Campbell, Jack Duncan, Christopher Field, Claire McGreevy and Chelsea Pettigrew – the winning team – to talk about their involvement in the ‘Pitch Perfect’ project.

Pitch Perfect winning team

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What were your initial thoughts about the competition?

Christopher: “We started the project off by listening to a presentation about sectarianism from Nil By Mouth’s Dave Scott. We were set the task of creating an idea to stop sectarianism in Scotland. We learned about sectarian language and some high profile cases of sectarianism – such as the shocking online attacks on Celtic fan Jay Beatty.”

Claire: “The initial presentation was really interesting and it got me hooked on wanting to be a part of the Nil by Mouth project. I learnt a lot about sectarianism and as soon as I left the presentation I instantly started to brainstorm ideas.”

Chelsea: “I really enjoyed Dave’s initial presentation about sectarianism as he was up front about the subject yet made it funny. He bonded well with us and gave us great examples of what sectarianism is and how serious it can get.”

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What was your idea and how did you come up with it?

Dionne: “We decided that the best way to get the anti-sectarianism message across to young people would be to create an app for smartphones, as well as a social media campaign, as we felt that was the best way to reach our target audience. We felt if we could come up with an idea that interests us, then it would also interest our peers.”

Claire: “The app makes people aware of online sectarianism and the consequences of sectarian behaviour. We highlighted a number of examples of people using sectarian language.”

Jack: “We did brainstorm other options, like a poster, but realised that the majority of people our age use smartphones and are unlikely to stop to look at a poster. That’s why we ultimately went down the app route.”

How did you execute the idea?

Chelsea: “We began by researching sectarianism. The amount of information that we found out was unbelievable – I wasn’t previously aware of half of the stuff I was reading, but it was really useful to know. We also filmed silent videos where we told hard-hitting sectarian ‘Cardboard Stories’ for maximum impact.”

Jack: “In terms of building the app, we found a free app creating website called ‘Appypie’. Once we gathered and uploaded all of the information for the app, we then created a Facebook page to integrate with it.”

Dionne: “Researching sectarianism was definitely my favourite part of the project. It really surprised me when I found out what’s considered sectarian language; and the consequences of using it. Putting the app together was also a lot of fun as it really made us knuckle down and work as a team.”

What was it like pitching your idea to the judges?

Christopher: “On the day of the pitch I was very nervous hoping everything would go as planned. We walked in and introduced ourselves to the judges and provided them with iPads so that they could put our app into action. We played the videos we had created, which explained what the app is and how it works, before we talked about how we found the whole experience of learning about sectarianism.”

Dionne: “This was the part that many of us were dreading as we don’t have a lot of confidence. We thought this might decrease our chances of winning. However, when we experienced slight technical difficulties at the start with our video, we stepped up to the plate and explained how they app worked. Once I heard the judges’ positive feedback, I thought ‘we have a chance’.”

Chelsea: “We talked about how we felt about sectarianism and showed our app to the judges. Standing in front of the judges was a little nerve-wracking and to be honest, I did feel scared when I first went in. But as the pitch went on I could feel myself improving.”

How did you feel when you found out you had won?

Claire: “When we got called in to found out the result, we were so desperate to know if we’d won. As the judges gave us feedback I was starting to expect a “but…”, however they announced us as the winners. I was so excited that I nearly started crying! I couldn’t believe all of our hard work and effort had paid off. I’m so proud of all of us.”

Christopher: “We were the first of the three groups to present our idea so we had an anxious wait before the results were announced. The judges gave us detailed feedback on the app and said it was a brilliant idea. When they said “Congratulations, you are the winners”, I was absolutely delighted.”

Jack: “When they told us that our idea was the best they had seen and would work well, we were ecstatic. I got a real sense of accomplishment and throughout this whole experience I feel that my communication skills have improved massively. I feel so much more confident.”

Nil By Mouth aims to challenge people to think about their attitudes towards sectarianism and the harmful impact it has on our society.

For further information on the anti-sectarianism charity, visit: http://nilbymouth.org/.

Ayrshire College 1, Bigotry 0

Ayrshire College students were recently challenged by the anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth to provide a cutting edge idea for their next campaign.

Nil By Mouth’s campaign director Dave Scott has kindly agreed to write for us about the competition, and the charity itself.

Nil By Mouth


Sectarianism is a hot topic in Scotland these days. It conjures up images of anger, noise, violence, intolerance and chants on football terraces. But how much do we really know about this complex problem? And what is being done to tackle it? Can we separate fact from fiction?

That is the challenge Nil by Mouth sets itself as we work with schools, colleges, workplaces and communities right across Scotland.

The charity was set up by Glasgow teenager Cara Henderson in response to the brutal sectarian murder of her friend Mark Scott. She believed that sectarianism was being swept under the carpet and it was time to do something about it. She set the charity up with the aim of challenging people to think about these attitudes and the harmful impact they have on our society.

The aim of our work is not to preach but simply to ask questions, to encourage people to revaluate old stereotypes and prejudices, and perhaps ask as many questions of their own views as they do other peoples.

Over the last few years we have been working in partnership with Ayrshire College to raise awareness of sectarianism and offer students and staff the opportunity to have their views heard on the subject. We have worked with sport students and the coaches of tomorrow – asking them how they would address problems on the touchline or the dressing room. We have spoken with lecturers and staff about how it can manifest itself in the workplace.

One of the areas we have been keen to highlight is the growing use of social media to subject others to sectarian abuse. Students seemed stunned as we showed them the potential consequences of online abuse and the negative impact being exposed as a ‘twitter troll’ can have on your reputation and employment prospects. They seem equally surprised when they discover that two thirds of arrests for sectarian behaviour have nothing to do with football. And participants have also given us things to think about, asked us questions that we did not have the answer to. We’ve enjoyed every session we have ran across the college and students and staff have always been open and welcoming.

In May this year, young people on courses at the College’s award winning HIVE (Hope, Inspiration and Vision in Education) facility took part in one of our ‘Pitch Perfect’ competitions, which gave them the opportunity to come up with their own campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the issue across Ayrshire.

It was fabulous to see groups from the various campuses present their ideas and it was clear that they had put a lot of thought into them. It was the first time many of them had taken part in a programme like this and they all gave an excellent account of themselves. Not only have they learned a lot about the harmful impact of sectarianism on our society but they have also come up with their own campaigns to create positive change.

The college has a smashing group of staff and students and a real commitment to equality. We greatly value our relationship with Ayrshire College and the opportunity it has provided us to spread our message that Scotland is bigger, better and bolder than bigotry.

For more information on the work of Nil by Mouth visit our website http://www.nilbymouth.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on twitter: @NBMScotland

This Man Cares – Calum McFadzean

Young people need positive role models. Calum McFadzean, HNC Social Care is one such role model.


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#ThisManCares

Calum knew that he wanted to work with teenagers, especially after a course placement and voluntary work with the Lighthouse Foundation in Kilmarnock while studying at Ayrshire College. In his time there, he worked tirelessly to deliver information to Ayrshire’s young people on the negative impact that alcohol and drugs can have on a young person’s life.

Over the last few years, he has volunteered hundreds of hours to charity, sharing his hard hitting story to over 2000 young people in Ayrshire.

Social Care lecturer Linda Malone said “Calum is a great example of how a young man can turn his life around with perseverance, hard work, education and training.”

Calum now has a full-time permanent contract with Aspire Scotland which is an organisation which provides residential care and education for vulnerable children and young people.

Aspire Scotland is committed to transforming the lives of children and young people facing serious challenges in their life, providing a range of services from education to day care to full residential care.

About his everyday work, Calum said “We support young people to achieve better lives. Every day is different working in the social care industry – some days are definitely more challenging than others! It is so rewarding helping young people get back on track, teaching them life skills and helping them get to where they want to be.”

Caroline Penman, Residential Services Manager at Aspire said “Calum is professional and engaging with our young people. He has become a real role model. He supports our young people in all aspects of daily life including self-care, independence and education and leans on his experiences to promote positive outcomes, which is an ethos central to working in social care.”

Social Care course applications are open for August 2016. Early application is advised as the courses are very popular.

Find out more about courses, contact Lynsey.reid@ayrshire.ac.uk or phone 01294 559000 ext 3249.

From professional footballer to nurse

Choosing to be a nurse is a great decision. There are so many incredible career opportunities all over the world. It’s a highly respected profession with job security and a good salary and pension. Nurses are always needed and the work is interesting – every day is different. There are plenty chances for career progression. So, how do you get started?

From footballer to nurse, student Martin Ure talks to us about starting his journey to retrain as a mental health nurse so that he can help make a difference to the quality of life of many people.


Martin Ure

I am doing the Access to Nursing course which will give me the entry requirements needed to start a nursing degree at university. I don’t have enough qualifications to go straight into university so an “Access” course is the perfect way to start my career.

I’ve been working as a support worker in a secure mental health unit so it is mental health nursing I really want do. I find my work with these patients really interesting especially learning about the different illnesses and how each is diagnosed and treated. I am fascinated about how the brain works.

While I was there as a support worker, I noticed there was a lack of male nurses. Some patients are more comfortable talking to another man or would prefer to have their personal care supported by a male nurse. I know there is a demand for male nurses and together with my increasing interest in mental health my mind was made up to take a big step and retrain as a nurse.

It really is a great course and we cover a wide range of subjects. We get good support from the lecturers. It has been a shock to the system to return to learning after eleven years however it’s quite a mature class and we all help each other out. I think the difference is that we have all chosen what we want to do and are more focused, with our mind set on getting in to university. As a mature student I find it much easier to study compared to when I was at school. My dedication has taken me and my family completely by surprise.

I have got a whole new future ahead of me – this is the career I am going to be doing for the rest of my life. It’s a far cry from where I was when I left school. At the age of sixteen I was offered a professional contract with Rangers and played with them for two and half years followed by a stint with Queens Park. I had various jobs after this and now only play football to keep fit.

I think there are more men becoming interested in nursing than ever before which is really encouraging as it’s a career that can suit both male and females. It’s a really challenging job where every day is different. You can make a difference to a patient’s quality of living just by making small changes or taking time to listen or observe.

I am easy going and approachable and I have quite a resilient personality – which you need in mental health nursing! It is very important to have good communication skills so this means showing you are listening and being able to speak to people. You have got to build up the patients trust and make assessments which will affect their care. Sometimes you have to be persistent and encouraging with patients to help them engage with their treatment.

I am looking forward to being part of a team and to be doing a job that I enjoy and get satisfaction from helping people when they are at their most vulnerable.

#ThisManCares


The Access to Nursing course runs three days a week from 9am – 4pm in Kilmarnock and Kilwinning. Course applications are open for August 2016. Early application is advised as this course is very popular.

To find out more email Lynsey.reid@ayrshire.ac.uk or phone 01294 559000 ext 3249.

This Man Cares – Ali Coughtrie

Ali coughtrie - Men in CareAyrshire College is holding a Men in Care event on 26 May 2016 to encourage men to consider a career in the health and social care sector. This sector is expanding and demand for qualified staff is set to rise.
In this blog series we find out more about men making a career in health, social care and early years.

First, we speak to Ali Coughtrie who started his career as a tree surgeon and is now retraining for a career in counselling.


I am a tree surgeon to trade and I have worked in environmental education, through which I have been involved in mountain rescue. Throughout my life I have been relatively unaware of the care sector as, other than the doctor and dentist, I have not used these services. However, when my mum had a stroke it made me think about health and the support services that help us to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

It was a defining moment and I made a life-changing decision to retrain in health and social care. Initially, I investigated the Scottish Ambulance Service with a view to becoming a passenger transport assistant. I soon realised that all my qualifications and experience were related to my previous jobs in the outdoors and I needed to get some relevant qualifications.

I enrolled in a NC Health and Social Care course which was a great foundation for my learning. I was honoured to receive an award for excellence at the end of my course. During the NC course I loved the psychology classes so much that this year I am studying the HNC Counselling course. I was encouraged to get involved in volunteering to gain relevant experience. I work on the South Ayrshire Befriending Project and I am also doing driver training with the Ayrshire Hospice.

Counselling is a therapy that allows a person to talk about their problems and feelings in a confidential and dependable environment. A counsellor is trained to listen with empathy, by putting themselves in your shoes. They can help you deal with any negative thoughts and feelings you have. Although at the end of this course I can’t practise as a counsellor as I need supervised experience, it is a stepping stone to other courses that will enable me to become a counsellor. Some people in my class are going on to university to study Psychology and train as a psychologist. Another option which we can consider is a Diploma in Counselling through the Glasgow Therapy Centre. Here you get 180 hours of 1-1 counselling experience and 20 hours of group counselling. Another pathway I can explore is Mindfulness and Yoga training as I practise and enjoy both of these.

Counselling is a fascinating area of study where you learn about which approaches are best for a particular client. I’ve got a lot out of this course, especially more self-awareness as we are encouraged to keep journals of our everyday experiences. I’ve changed how I respond to situations, as I stop and think now before I speak and I am even more open minded.

I’ve also been given opportunities to attend NHS short courses on a range of interesting topics including dementia, legal highs and child protection. I have enjoyed interacting with a wide variety of people on these courses and it has enhanced the learning we do at college.

I was a bit worried before I came to the college that I would be the only man. However, there are about six men out of twenty on the course, and I have a number of friends and colleagues through my volunteering that are male, so I think things are changing and there is more of a mixed workforce now. I think it’s important to have both male and female staff in the care sector because clients may respond better to the care giver if they feel more comfortable with a man or woman.

I would encourage others who are thinking of changing their career to give the care profession a go. If you are a good listener, have empathy, enjoy working with people and can be non-judgemental – it could be for you. You need to be prepared to be self-critical and take on board constructive criticism from your colleagues. It’s a rewarding career where you can help people who find themselves in a vulnerable position.

#ThisManCares


The HNC Counselling course runs three days a week from 9am – 4pm in Ayr. Course applications are open for August 2016. Early application is advised as this course is very popular. To find out more please email Lynsey.reid@ayrshire.ac.uk or phone 01294 559000 ext 3249.

 

 

Making Your Business Our Business

Ayrshire College is serious about employer engagement.

Our portfolio of vocational qualifications is aligned to the needs of industry sectors important to Ayrshire and we play a critical role in the success of the region’s economy.

By increasing the number of businesses we work with, we increase the number of opportunities for apprenticeships each year, the volume of employment opportunities for students and jobseekers, and the range and uptake of training courses delivered to industry.


A New Conversation, published by UKCES in 2014, summarised the necessary ingredients for effective engagement between colleges and employers.

  • First, it recommended that we need to agree that the primary purpose of a college is to contribute to its economic community. We do.
  • Second, it argued that college leaders need to develop new types of skills to succeed in strategic partnerships with employers. We have.
  • Third, it stressed that we need to be aware that the credibility of colleges with employers is tied up with what they offer. We agree.
  • Finally, employers need to get to know their local college and what it has to offer. Thousands of employers in Ayrshire have already done this.

How we engage with employers 

Our Making Your Business Our Business employer engagement strategy illustrates how we support employers. This interactive document includes video interviews with businesses, links to key strategies and blog posts. The goals in the strategy describe how we will:

  • Ensure our portfolio of courses is relevant and aligned to business needs
  • Increase the number of businesses we work with
  • Increase the number of Modern Apprentice new starts annually
  • Increase job opportunities for students and job seekers
  • Increase the range and uptake of training courses delivered to employers

By achieving these goals, we will help raise aspirations, inspire achievement and increase opportunities for Ayrshire’s businesses and communities.

A deal for a deal

Our offer to employers is that we will make your business our business by:

  • Providing the right skills at the right time to help grow your company
  • Involving you in evaluating our current courses and shaping our future provision
  • Offering industry relevant courses delivered in environments reflective of your sector
  • Helping with workforce planning for current and future skills needs
  • Offering apprenticeships to develop your employees
  • Helping you to recruit the right people.

In return, our ask of employers is that you make our business your business by:

  • Taking part in our evaluation and curriculum planning processes
  • Offering work placements, volunteering opportunities and project work for our students
  • Attending our careers events to raise awareness of your industry amongst students
  • Sponsoring the college by donating equipment and rewarding student excellence
  • Helping us tackle gender stereotyping in career choices.

How we engage with employers

All senior staff and curriculum leaders at Ayrshire College are responsible for engaging
with the local business community. To identify skills needs at a regional level, the College works with the Ayrshire Economic Partnership, with employer organisations such as the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses, and industry sector-specific organisations like the Ayrshire Engineering Alliance and Taste Ayrshire.

The college also supports the economy and skills boards of the three local authorities in the region, working with business growth advisers to support the skills needs of existing and new companies as well as those seeking to locate to Ayrshire.

How employers shape our curriculum 

Intelligence gained from our extensive engagement with employers and business organisations in Ayrshire, combined with analysis presented in the Skills Assessment for Ayrshire and Skills Investment Plans for various industry sectors, shape the college’s curriculum delivery plan each year.

Excellent external engagement with employers, industry bodies and community organisations influences course design, and creates opportunities for students and for validating college provision.

Opportunities for developments and validation at an industry sector level are taken forward at a range of college-led employer skills forums in areas such as aerospace, science and engineering. These forums comprise employers, college managers, sector skills councils, national skills and economic agencies, and local authorities.

Education Scotland, the national agency responsible for quality assurance in further education, said of Ayrshire College’s engagement with employers:

“Employer forums and strong employer engagement across the engineering areas provides strong intelligence to inform programme planning and delivery. The College responds promptly to feedback from employers where programmes don’t exactly match their requirements, and generally provide solutions. Effective, regular communication with employers based on mutual respect and a strong commitment to employer engagement allows the college to share plans”

If you would like to talk to us about our support for employers, please contact Stuart Millar, Director of Business Development at stuart.millar@ayrshire.ac.uk.


MAKING YOUR BUSINESS OUR BUSINESS

A whole lot of blogging going on!

A week before the second anniversary of Ayrshire College’s blog, the number of views has reached a staggering 20,000!

We launched our blog on 13 May 2014. Our first post, Scottish Apprenticeship Week gets off to a flying start, described the College’s commitment to Modern Apprenticeships and highlighted the achievements of our students. 

Two years on, the readership of our blog continues to grow. 

Blog by numbers

infoIn May 2015 we reported on our first year of blogging in Keep calm and blog on! At that point, our blog had been viewed 6,300 times by people in 40 countries. One year on, the number of views has more than trebled!

Blogging all over the world!

While our blog is targeted primarily at people who live in Ayrshire and Scotland, it has been read in 99 countries – that’s more than half of the world’s countries – and in every continent except Antarctica! The countries which most regularly check into the blog are the US, Canada, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Australia, Brazil, India and Russia.

Visitors to our blog from these countries get a rich flavour of the contribution that colleges in Scotland make to individual lives, local communities and economic development.

It’s all about the content!

We blog a lot!

As well as publishing series of posts around key events in the calendar like Scottish Apprenticeship Week, National Women in Engineering Day, LGBT History Month and Ada Lovelace Day, we run blog series on areas such as care experienced young peopleschool-college courses, learning technology and curriculum subjects like sport.

A diverse range of guest contributors have generously contributed to our blog including Dame Ruth Silver on the Commission for Widening Access, STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith on Modern Apprenticeships, Chief Executive of The Data Lab Gillian Docherty on digital technology and Council Chief Executive Elma Murray on the economic vision for North Ayrshire. In March, following a visit to the College, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote a guest post on the importance of attracting girls and women to careers in STEM.

Top of the blogs are always stories about, or written by, Ayrshire College students which you will see from the charts below.

Top ten posts published this year 

Articles written for this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week (which took place in the first week in March) take up three places in the ten most popular posts we have published so far this year. 

Posts focused on women in STEM, published for International Women’s Day, also secured three places in the top ten for 2016 so far.

  1. Meet the apprentice – Anna Manson, Spirit AeroSystems
  2. Guest post – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP 
  3. Re-visit the apprentice – Jack Lynes, Billy Bowie Tankers
  4. Who can be an engineer? This Ayrshire Girl Can!
  5. Guest post – Why coding is the new must have creative skill!
  6. Modern Apprentice? You’re hired!
  7. Guest post – Student President Angela Alexander on This Ayrshire Girl Can
  8. Trainee Site Manager talks us through the new build
  9. Celebrating LGBT+ History Month
  10. 10 reasons why you should study Business Administration

Top ten posts of all time 

Topping the all-time chart is a post from this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week about aeronautical apprentice Anna Manson. 

Two of the posts published when we launched our blog in May 2014 continue to be amongst the most popular and continue to attract readers two years on! 

Eight out of the top ten stories are about or by current or former students.

  1. Meet the apprentice – Anna Manson, Spirit AeroSystems (Mar 2016)
  2. Angela Alexander – the Ayrshire star who just keeps on rising! (Nov 2014)
  3. Success in Sport: California Coach William Dunnachie (Nov 2015)
  4. How I became a Ryanair cabin crew member (Jun 2015)
  5. Tourism students meet Scottish Government Ministers (Mar 2015)
  6. Yvonne Neil talks about being an engineer in a “man’s world” (May 2014)
  7. Guest post – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP (Mar 2016)
  8. Re-visit the apprentice – Jack Lynes, Billy Bowie Tankers (Mar 2016)
  9. Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire (Oct 2015)
  10. Turnberry apprentices turn up the heat! (May 2014)

To date, the post with the best views ever – with 442 views in just one day – is Meet the apprentice – Anna Manson, Spirit AeroSystems which was also top of the blogs for both of the above charts. Anna’s story clearly captured the imagination of visitors to our blog!

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Blog on!

There is always a lot to blog about at Ayrshire College. In the next few weeks, look out for new posts on topics like:

  • Tackling gender imbalance in care courses by attracting more men
  • How the College engages with employers
  • Mission Discovery – NASA programme with 200 Ayrshire school pupils and students
  • National Women in Engineering Day, 23 June 2016.

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Join our blogging community

Whether you’re a seasoned or a budding blogger, if you would like to write an article about something our readers would be interested in, please get in touch with Martin Currie in our marketing team at martin.currie@ayrshire.ac.uk.


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