Western Sydney University, with six campuses in the area, has installed new A/V equipment in two of its campuses to trial new forms of collaborative learning in classroom situations:
In place of old-fashioned tutorial rooms with rows of desks facing the lecturer, the new campus will feature 24 learning studios accommodating between 50 and 60 students each.
Students will be gathered in pods of five or six with a large monitor at one end, along with additional large screens located both at the front and the back of the classroom.
By logging into the Mersive Solstice wireless collaboration solution, both students and the academic running the class will be able to share videos and other content with the screen at the end of their table from their personal smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Through a Crestron control module at the front of the room, the academic can then choose to display content shared by any of the students to all the other screens in the classroom, as well as on the main screens.
One outcome on the roadmap is to support cross-campus classes, using video conferencing:
… sometimes the course that a student that lives next door to a campus wants to take may only be offered somewhere else.
“But if we can use this sort of technology as scale, there’s nothing to prevent us from having students go to the campus closest to where they live and actually engage in a session even though it may be delivered from somewhere else.”
And then there’s the statement about re-thinking how to deliver curriculum:
In order to fully take advantage of the technology in the new workspaces, academics will need to rethink how they deliver their curriculum.
Training academics in how to use all the new technology will therefore be a major focus of the deployment process.
“[The control module is] not necessarily something that comes automatically or intuitively to the academics, so we’ll have an intensive training and familiarisation program for the academics who will be in our Parramatta CBD location,” Holling said.
“The feedback we have received so far has been positive. It does have a profound implication on the way in which curriculum needs to be taught to the student.”
“Profound implications.” Exactly. I hope the project team at the university are putting 80% of their effort into this re-thinking / re-imagining issue. Anything less will lead to less than profound results.