Always-on education: the latest edtech innovations

Colin Farquhar, Exterity CEO, talks about major trend, on-the-go learning

The modern student is accustomed to constant connectivity, which means technology can be a deal-maker or breaker when choosing between different universities. For these tech-savvy audiences, technology is a powerful tool that can offer opportunities for additional learning. To meet the expectations of these students, many higher education institutions are now turning into connected campuses where technology – primarily video – is becoming a crucial tool to educate, inform and entertain.

Mobile devices have become an extension of the lecture theatre and are helping to make higher education accessible for all

On-the-go learning is one major trend that has emerged as the result of more video-based communications at universities. Technologies such as IP video have enabled recorded and live-streamed learning material to be accessible from any device, on any network, anywhere and at any time. As a result, mobile devices have become an extension of the lecture theatre and are helping to make higher education accessible for all. Today, it provides students who have other commitments – such as part-time jobs or families – with the flexibility to study in their own time.

The University of Aberdeen is a clear example of on-the-go learning, as the university offers a robust educational programme supporting guest lecturers, seminars and workshops. When there isn’t sufficient space in the main lecture halls or classrooms, its IPTV system enables it to stream guest lecture feeds around campus, enabling more students to engage and learn.

The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey is a great example of curriculum activities that would otherwise be impossible if not for IP video. Now, the university can transmit live, up-close footage of dissection sessions in the Veterinary Pathology Centre to two lecture theatres for viewing by up to 250 students at a time, in contrast to the previous approach where only a small number of students were able to enter the laboratory. The sessions are also recorded on the university’s server for students to access as part of independent study and are part of a wider strategy to grow the institution’s growth and rank in the UK and beyond by offering more flexible ways of learning to its student body.

Another benefit of the connected campus is that it enables universities to enhance the student experience. Campus life is, for most students, their first time living away from home. While technology cannot fully replicate home comforts such as mum’s cooking, it can help universities create a home-away-from-home experience and ease the transition to campus life.

Video in and out of the lecture halls, in accommodation and in communal areas is crucial to recreating a home-away-from-home experience for students

The University of Bath created this home-away-from-home experience when it deployed a state-of-the art IP video solution that enables students to access high-quality, educative and entertaining content from the comfort of their rooms. The channels are delivered to 750 rooms and monitored from a central platform, enabling accommodation managers to keep students up-to-date with the latest news and campus alerts and ensure that access to specific content is allocated to the right person.

The University of Bath also installed digital signage and menu boards to all the campus refectory areas. This feature is even available in the student accommodations, enabling students to see what’s on offer prior to arriving in the refectories.

As universities continue to embrace technology advancements and become laboratories for the development of future work practices, putting video at the heart of education will help students learn more skills faster and in a more user-friendly way. Video in and out of the lecture halls, in accommodation and in communal areas is crucial to recreating a home-away-from-home experience for students. Connected universities are also forming part of a growing trend to prepare their contingents for future employment where multi-modal communication plays a pivotal role.