Universities should be embracing technology to drive collaboration

Jon Knight looks at the importance of universities identifying the right tools to enhance student collaboration

Collaborative learning has always played an important role in universities, complementing traditional teaching methods and improving students’ ‘soft skills’, to prepare them for the modern workplace. With digital transformation at the forefront, collaboration has evolved, and universities must keep up with the latest technology to provide a successful learning experience for their students.

Remote students

Universities are now targeting a far wider range of students. This is partly to increase opportunities for funding but there is also recognition that learning should be accessible to everyone, throughout their life. Providing opportunities for students to learn while balancing other commitments at home or work has led to a rise in the demand for remote learning options. There is a need for universities to integrate these students and give them the same quality of education as full time students.  So, it is crucial for universities to keep abreast of emerging technology that facilitates this form of learning.

Technology is in the driver’s seat

It’s challenging because technology is moving so fast. Universities must stay connected with emerging trends and adapt quickly to remain competitive. New collaboration tools are significantly improving the learning experience and many educators see this as a key area for investment.

One solution that is creating a lot of interest with educators is Nureva’s Span Workspace. A cloud-based visual collaboration system that supports real-time collaboration and gives groups digital canvases that are perfect for capturing ideas.

Spanning Collaboration

The Nureva Span solution facilitates creative collaboration activities and an ‘agile’ approach to learning. It allows task visualisation and uses a large surface to display and share information. The solution works by transforming walls into an ultra-wide interactive digital canvas. It also supports the increasing trend towards students using their own technology in lectures allowing them to make contributions from anywhere at any time.

Familiar tools made digital

The system draws upon familiar, simple and flexible tools that are already used in paper-based collaborative learning, such as sticky notes, sketches, images and flip charts. In collaborative learning, educators frequently rely on large workspaces with lots of pieces of written information. Span’s digital canvas retains the flexibility that paper-based systems offer, while overcoming many of the deficiencies. When bits of sticky paper and writing on boards are used for collaborative learning, the storage and retention of work is a challenge, as is including any remote participants in the process.

This process is now made digital. Students can evolve their thinking and work together on the shared digital canvas from their personal devices or contribute and organise information directly at the wall. Popular elements like Quickshare allow students to make real-time contributions from any device and anywhere, whether they want to present in the classroom or from a remote location.

In short, collaborative learning tools are transforming education, particularly for remote students. They provide the opportunity to make the remote learning experience almost as immersive as the experience of full-time students. Universities that don’t embrace this technology may well find that they get left behind.

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