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Connecting students and their things


April 7, 2016


Around a month ago, I set out to visit Amsterdam for the first time and I must say I was looking forward to a yearly intake of waffles over the few days I was there. It was quite exciting, as various opportunities to visit in the past had fallen through for one reason or another. I was there to visit the ISE Audio-Visual (AV) conference, one of the largest gatherings globally for the AV industry.RT

What was interesting about me visiting this conference is that I wouldn’t normally associate myself with AV, I’m known more as a networking guy, AV would sit closer to my colleagues from the Cisco collaboration technology team. I was invited to present about higher education and the theme was around Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and what this means in an educational environment.

Many topics were discussed ranging from the basics of what the underlying technology needs to look like to implement a secure BYOD environment and ensure a seamless collaborative experience across all the devices. Many of the UK university representatives within the room were interested in understanding the role technology plays in the educational outcomes, as the feeling was that the industry just sees more technology as the answer but were unsure of its effectiveness. There was a great debate about the measurement of success when delivering education through technology, and it was interesting to hear that the digital learning requirements are being driven from the students not the university and if it’s not provided then there is a risk they will look elsewhere.

My view on this was that students are much more tech savvy and spend their personal lives online through multiple mobile devices. To ensure that education is accessible for them a digital approach to learning must be considered and the university needs to adapt its physical spaces to be more open, smart and collaborative. Wi-Fi is a fundamental technology that enables connectivity, mobility and accessibility for students and within universities Wi-Fi networks must be designed with high density of devices in mind.

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One of the delegates mentioned Flexspace “flexspace.org” which is a collection of real projects where this approach has been taken and they encourage best practice sharing amongst contributors and has recently been included in the publication of the UK Higher Education Learning Space Toolkit.

http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/learningspace

Having been a recent university graduate I saw this transition to “smart and connected” spaces in a few select areas of my university and it was clear to see that students preferred to spend time in these areas and would quickly become the popular aggregation areas within the campus.

Please feel free to drop comments and thoughts below, it would be great to hear your thoughts on digital learning and if you have any experience to share.

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