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Weston College's South West Skills Campus
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Weston College's South West Skills Campus
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Enabling digital evolution at Weston College

It’s May 2020 and Jon Hofgartner, assistant director at Weston College is in a room on campus preparing for a meeting with his curriculum leads.

Jon Hofgartner

Due to busy schedules, some of the curriculum leads can’t attend the meeting physically. But thanks to the power of technology, they’re able to join remotely and play an active role. The room they’re using is a digital classroom – a digitally-enabled learning space with collaborative learning facilities.

“We’ve been inspired by the sticky campus roadshow, we’ve reflected on it and thought about what might be right for us. Since then we’ve shaped our thinking on how we use technology.”

Twelve months ago, during a meeting with Duncan Peberdy, digital learning spaces senior lead at Jisc, Jon was introduced to the idea of running a ‘sticky campus roadshow’.

“Having just completed the build on our new health and active living centre and with curriculum teams moving in, we wanted to develop some training opportunities to think about how we used technology in this space.”

A ‘try before you buy’ initiative, the roadshow offers universities and colleges the opportunity to try out a fully configured digital classroom.

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Sticky campus set up at Weston College

“The trickiest part was finding a room in the new build to host the roadshow. Because it wasn’t yet timetabled, we didn’t have the footfall, so we had to bring people there”.

Working as a hub not only for students but also stakeholders from across the institution and in your locality, it’s a great opportunity to share experiences of active collaborative learning.

“We booked in groups of senior managers, curriculum leaders, delivery staff, support teams, IT staff and the head of estates. It’s important to get those people using the space who are the decision makers or who are the ones responsible for fitting out and developing spaces on campus but don’t usually have the opportunity to see or hear the context of why.

“We ran a traditional roundtable meeting with all of our heads of faculty and deputy principal in the roadshow classroom. At first, we struggled to work out how to use the space but working in groups, we used the technology to share activity happening in the meeting – that was the light bulb moment.

“At that point everyone was physically in the room because I thought it was important for them to see and feel the space. I wanted them to experience what a student would feel like walking in there or a teacher who was going to facilitate a session.”

Before investing in a digital classroom or looking to develop your current learning and teaching spaces, it’s important to understand the success factors. But what did Jon and the team learn from hosting a sticky campus roadshow?

“Get your students in there! I would like to have seen more of them using the space, but we were in the middle of exams so think about the time of year when planning to host a roadshow. Use a timetabled space where you know you’ll get the footfall and that natural intrigue. Get staff from a range of roles across the organisation using the space.”

Following the success of the sticky campus roadshow, Weston have two spaces in development - a digital classroom and virtual classroom. The digital classroom will be a collaborative space modelled on the sticky campus approach, and the virtual classroom will be geared towards distance delivery using some of the technology showcased at the roadshow.

“The students can connect from anywhere around the world, we want to create an interactive, engaging and high-quality experience for them with great audio and visuals – almost like a studio.”

Looking ahead Jon is keen to explore the active collaborative learning approach to see how teachers will use the spaces to enhance their courses.

“It goes back to curriculum design and what the teacher wants their students to achieve and how technology can play a role rather than here’s a room and the technology.

“With the virtual classroom we hope to share learning and deliver teaching on a bigger scale over much bigger distances and create engaging experiences with no geographical boundaries.”

To find out more about hosting a sticky campus roadshow, contact your account manager.

Jon will be joining us for our panel session at the AoC Annual Conference at 11:45 on Tuesday 19 November 2019. Read more about the session on our event page.