By David Wain, National Practice Manager – Education, Data#3 Limited
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While universities have been at the forefront of education’s embrace of technology, the blending of formal and informal methods of learning is presenting an opportunity and a challenge to the tertiary education sector.
It’s argued that the proliferation of mobile devices and anytime access to information is generating interest in self-directed, curiosity-based learning that enhances student engagement and encourages them to follow their interests.
The idea of liberating and improving the learning experience in this way has been a major driver in the uptake of mobility and BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) in the sector.
Teaching methods are evolving to encompass blended and flipped learning and device-dense, connected campuses are providing immersive informal learning spaces to further enhance the on-campus experience.
Mobility is no doubt contributing to the transformation of the on-campus environment in universities in response to demands from students and staff for seamless flexible delivery of digital services.
The University of Queensland recently found that among their student population, two-thirds of study time is being conducted on-campus with 45% of that time spent in informal, non-timetabled spaces. They, like other leading universities, have found that reshaping their campuses through the ongoing creation of informal learning areas such as hybrid spaces and collaborative theatres has unlocked exciting new opportunities for students and staff to work together. This is potentially creating new pathways towards personalised learning and student autonomy.
When well implemented, these network-supported environments are enabling the secure and seamless delivery of learning applications and resources to the student’s devices of choice, empowering them to engage with their teachers and subjects in ways most relevant to them.
In these scenarios, students can utilise their on-campus time more effectively, without being constrained by poor connectivity, outdated tools, or competition for shared resources such as the perpetually-booked computer labs of old.
While the on-campus experience is transforming many universities, extending this ubiquitous access off-campus is proving more of a challenge.
Universities need to balance the benefits of anywhere access to applications and resources with the need to provide a safe and secure digital environment for all users. Increasingly, they are looking to Cloud and other delivery models to achieve this.
These new models of delivery can reduce the need for costly and complex on-premises infrastructure and can provide a world-class digital experience for students incorporating;
Universities that are slow to adapt to the demands of students and staff for a seamless on and off-campus digital experience will only face increasing competition from those already serving those needs.
The student experience remains the central focus. An effective strategy for enabling the delivery of a truly limitless learning experience, with enhanced autonomy and improved outcomes, lies in institutions embracing technology as a vehicle for pedagogical innovation.
For more information, visit The Anywhere Classroom.
Tags: Education, Mobility, Tertiary Education