Friday 12 April 2019

What will the university look like in 2030?

In April I was invited by James Clay, head of HE and student experience at Jisc to contribute to Networkshop47 where a panel of students, staff and education technology experts offered their visions for the future. The audience was mainly networking and security people.

Panellists included:
  • Sue Beckingham, Principal Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Caitlin Bloom, Sector Analyst, Jisc
  • Jake Forecast, Jisc Student Partner
  • Mark O'Leary, Head of Network Access, Jisc
  • Amber Thomas, Head of Academic Technology, University of Warwick
  • Andy Powell, Cloud Chief Technology Officer, Jisc
  • Simon Wilson, Chief Technology Officer, Aruba

Our brief was to discuss which emerging technologies offer the most promise in helping with the challenges universities and colleges face. The panel session focus was to look at the wider student experience in 2030 and what this means for those who support the student experience through the use of technology.

How an we predict the future? James suggests we start by looking at the past. In 2008 the iPhone had just been out less than a year with 3G connectivity! In the panel disucssion we reflected on what we think will happen in the next 11 years, what the implications will be for universities, what this will mean for the student experience, and also the technical infrastructures that are going to enable this student experience. 

My vision for 2030

My vision of the future student experience is to have a virtual learning hub that is interconnected. All students would be provided with an intelligent device. This would be preloaded with activities: 

  • Active learning apps - things we might relate to in today's learning and teaching for example Socrative, Padlet and what ever they are in the future that allow learning inside and outside of the classroom, collaborative andindependent learning. 
  • Personal profile - the students would have a profile preloaded and would be able to personalise that, they can put in their interests. It would be searchable and allow students to connect with shared interests. 
  • Achievememts - the device would have a profile of their achievements - their marks, feedback and attendance
  • Student support -  it would enable chat (text or voice) and connect them to their academic adviser, their tutor, student support, careers adviser, wellbeing
  • Learning workspace - this might include a future version of the VLE and spaces like Google Drive for personal and collaborative work.  
  • Extracurricular - it would link to acvitivies outside of the taught curriculum so that students know what is available. 
  • Conversation - access to peer chat and video chat
  • Maps and wayfinding - where to find places (libaray. places to eat, classrooms etc) and linked to the student's timetable
  • Self help - utilising Siri or Alexa technology for FAQs, bite sized learning, revision
  • Virtual video meetings - connecting to others locally and globally, other students, and businesses and professionals in their field. This would come with subtitiles, translation and auto transcription
  • Digital feedback - students can record and save feedback (formative and sumative) from tutors, peers or others using multimedia in a format they choose. This can be tagged with keywords for later recall. 

There would be flexible learning spaces, so not defined as a lab vs a classroom (rows of tables and chairs). Students would take their device into the classroom where there would be charging mats on the tables, the ability to connect their device to a larger screen so if they wanted to work in 2s or 3s, or larger groups they could. Also interactive walls to capture collaborative work that syncs to the students device.

The device is not futurisic. My examples could use the technology that is already here and being used by us in our daily lives. It would need to bring these together in one space. A space that is secure and safe. 

Jisc News summarises my contribution as:  
"Sue Beckingham, principal lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, felt that every student might have an “intelligent device”, which becomes their personal, interconnected virtual learning hub. This will hold a profile of their academic and personal life, syncing all their work to their tutors, connecting to university services, and linking to their extra-curricular life and their peers. Students will also submit work and get feedback on this device, she said." 

You can watch the panel session in the recording below.

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