The Human Element of Virtual Learning – Digital Fellowships

The Problem

We have technology – how are we going to effectively use it? There is no significant resource for additional staff

The Solution

Digital Fellows with subspecialty interests recruited in career development roles to enhance the technology, merge it with existing practice whilst driving forward stakeholder engagement



Digital Teaching Fellowships

With any technology, there are limiting factors. The biggest limiting factor is often the humans using it. It is either used incorrectly or in a limited capacity.

The development of the PGVLE allowed a platform to exist for the purpose of delivering teaching. Humans still had to utilise it. With that the first groups who were onboarded to the platform we recommended that an individual be nominated to act as a Digital Fellow. The brief was simple. 

Take whatever activities you used to do face-to-face, and translate it in to a virtual format

Training was provided, as was ready access to a mentor who supported the development of both the Digital Fellow and the online area that they were responsible for. 

The learning groups and their respective faculty members were all seen as stakeholders and were invited to comment and suggest improvements which were implemented using the AGILE method.

As of now, all onboarding groups, are expected to retain a member of their group to take on a Digital Fellow role to ensure that stakeholders get exactly what they need.

The variation within the established framework of the PGVLE has allowed the flourishing of multiple specialties with cross-specialty adaptation of techniques and methods to improve global experience.


Digital Fellows

Recruiting from within various training programmes, no tech experince is needed as everything is taught. The fellows are usually those who are progressing in their clinical training and have the capacity to take on this role. They are supported by the PGVLE team and their Training Programme Directors and have full autonomy over their section of the PGVLE.


PGVLE Fellows

Competitively recruited via a formal application process. These individuals have pre-existing digital (+/- PGVLE specific) experience and fulfill a leadership and strategy role. With an emphasis on improving the platform, supporting new onboarding and promoting engagement in existing groups. These fellows are recruited for 1-4 days a week depending on the scope of the project that have responsibility for.


Virtual Training

Every recruit is given a core set of tasks related to their subspecialty interests, additional interests are encouraged. They have access to a testing area and a library of acquired knowledge and are expected to contribute their learning to it too. The emphasis extends beyond just the technology with support in engaging with colleagues and faculty to maximise their gains



Each fellow provides a report at the end of their time with reflections on the outcome of the year. Thus far every fellow has succeeded in their core aims and has made significant progress with their additional project endeavours.



Digital Fellows are afforded time to fulfill their responsibilites. Recruited PGVLE fellows are funded by NHSE WTE for whatever days they are attached to the PGVLE. The fact that these are doctors in training for the most part also means that the boost to personal portfolios is tremendous.

Current Position

With expansion into national programmes several of the original digital fellows hold formal roles within the PGVLE executive responsible for supporting new Digital Fellows and driving forward growth and national engagement.

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