Students spend a lot on their university education, so where does that money go?

Jon Knight explains why universities need to add value by investing in learning enhancing technologies

Average university fees in the UK are now £9,250, according to the BBC. This is a big investment for students, taking several years for them to pay it back.

Quite rightly, students expect universities to invest the money in providing the best standard of education. Whilst this is widely interpreted as providing a high quality of teaching, the learning environment is equally important.

Perhaps then, it’s no wonder that research by the Higher Education Policy Institute* shows that only around 45% of the funds generated from each student contribute towards the costs of teaching. The rest is used for other expenses including creating the right environment.

Collaborative learning

So how can the right environment make a difference to the quality of education?

As a student, the extent to which you’re engaged is key to the effectiveness of your learning experience. It’s widely acknowledged that high engagement of students is linked to better quality learning outcomes. And one of the keys to this engagement is active and collaborative learning.

Technology can now transform an average meeting room or lecture theatre into a collaborative workspace. Even if the building is old and budgets limit the ability to refurbish the building or lecture facilities, students can still experience a state-of-the-art learning environment.

So when choosing a university, students should consider the content of the course and the way that it will be delivered. This means looking at the technology investments the university is making to improve student engagement.

We’ve all seen the films where people use touchscreen technology to move material around. This isn’t a vision of the future – it’s available now. Such solutions are a natural fit for educators who want to bring new ways of learning into their classrooms. A combination of cloud-based canvases, individual contributions from personal devices and expansive displays creates an ideal environment for collaborative learning. Students can engage with the material shared by using interactive boards that help them to view a range of different inputs and interact with the information to challenge assumptions and build on ideas.

Everyone can contribute, test their understanding and share ideas. No need for sticky notes or flip charts –it’s all digital now. What’s more students have a copy of the output in real time so they can start using it straight after the lecture.

Improved audio tech

But that’s only half the story. There have also been huge developments that improve acoustics. Introducing scalable audio technology that will fit different room layouts and meet the evolving requirements of students who gather there to communicate and collaborate is key. This is particularly important as student learning is no longer confined to the walls of a lecture theatre. Their voices and ideas need to be heard clearly, with the right technology to support group working sessions and promote engagement, whether they’re in the room or linking in remotely.

So, education is going through a huge change and the smart students have started to think more holistically about which university offers them the best service for their money. Don’t be left behind

For more information contact the team at Ascentae on 0800 368 8074 and, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out our website: www.ascentae.com

*Where do student fees really go? Following the pound’, November 2018

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