UWTSD and Sony pioneer the next generation of active, collaborative learning through smart technology


19.02.2019

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David is using a scalable Sony Vision Exchange solution to pioneer the next generation of active, collaborative learning through smart technology.

UWTSD has invested significantly in its infrastructure and embarked on an ambitious regeneration programme to transform the educational experience of learners. The partnership with Sony has expedited a move from traditional lecture theatres and auditoriums to a collaborative and interactive environment that is driving new levels of engagement and attainment.

UWTSD has undergone substantial regeneration and development, culminating in the first phase of its £350 million SA1 Swansea Waterfront Development (completed in September 2018), home to Yr Athrofa, The Institute of Education, The Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering, the Construction Wales Innovation Centre and a new library.

The University’s vision for SA1 Swansea Waterfront is to create a neighbourhood with academic activity at its core to attract companies to collocate with the University to exploit knowledge, develop skills, support existing companies and attract new investment into the region.

In the upgrade of its existing learning spaces across campuses and during construction of the SA1 buildings, the university’s primary goal is to create an active learning environment with interactivity at its core. In 2015 it set about reimagining the learning experience at the university to set a new benchmark for technology-enabled, collaborative education.

Lyndon Shirley, executive head of technology-enhanced learning at UWTSD said: “Our pedagogical approach at UWTSD has been to employ a model that involves learners as active, accountable participants in the learning journey. We want our students to be ‘minds on’ with their subject matter and needed a solution that was more than ‘technology’ – it needed to aid the entire learning experience.

“We wanted to create a collaborative ecosystem that would allow students to bring internet resources, specialist software or video footage into their discussions for analysis, debate, comparison and any other constructivist activity to develop knowledge and understanding. Moving away from chalk and talk meant educators would become facilitators and guides within the learning environment.”

“The staff development process has been led directly by the staff development committee (empowered by senior management), whilst working groups (including members of faculty of education for pedagogical guidance, technology enhanced learning and HR teams) have led a drive for mentoring and co-designing the system.”

In addition to preparing staff for a new campus, new technology, learning process and educational approach, the university focused on providing benefits and assistance to staff in that process.

From initial proof of concept through to the final tailored offering being rolled across all campuses, Sony’s Vision Exchange solution has been developed hand-in-hand with UWTSD. The intuitive, scalable and flexible solution has been specifically tailored to the needs of higher education and the pedagogical requirements of UWTSD using:

 – Feedback sourced from the full spectrum of stakeholders (senior management, teachers and faculty members), many of whom played a critical role as early adopters, co-developers and mentors for the new system

– Insight and intelligence from core project teams plus 40 academic staff involved in piloting
– Quantitative and qualitative research from 300 students, including over 1,800 responses to questions on efficacy
– An extensive piloting process across three campuses
– The findings and input from the early adopter and co-development programme

Encouraging freedom and supporting students with active learning, the education solution allows up to 60 students to work collaboratively in small work-group clusters of up to six simultaneously connecting wirelessly to the platform via their own laptops (Windows/Mac), tablets or smartphone devices.

The design of the new spaces at SA1 is underpinned by the core principle of flexibility. The result is entirely configurable and adaptable, with moveable desks, seats and clusters. Educational technologies like Sony’s Vision Exchange solution, are equally flexible in order to drive and empower the new learning environment.

The lecturer can easily mirror any devices and share content with other groups in the room or on the main presentation screen via simple drag-and-drop gestures that remain under their control. The solution can also bring in other participants located elsewhere to join the discussion and share content regardless of geographic location, inspiring knowledge exchange, creative dialogue and higher-order thinking.

It is proposed that Vision Exchange will be deployed across UWTSD’s existing campuses and incorporated into the ground-up build of the teaching spaces at SA1 Swansea Waterfront, enabling lecturers to feature the technology at the core of their education. The university has also invested in Sony’s TEOS Manage device and room management solution to manage, schedule and monitor the content that is displayed on all its networked BRAVIA professional displays and projectors efficiently.

Caroline Lewis, Assistant Director of Academic Discipline: Social Justice & Inclusion and Programme Director: BA (Hons) Education Studies at UWTSD’s Yr Athrofa said: “As a lecturer, I am both proud and excited to be part of Yr Athrofa, the Institute of Education here at UWTSD. I am based at our new building in the SA1 Swansea Waterfront area of Swansea where Yr Athrofa is leading the way in providing the high quality and engaging teaching experiences that modern students expect of their universities.

“Within  IQ – home to Yr Athrofa’s Swansea-based activities - UWTSD offers a wide variety of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level in areas such as Education Studies, Psychology and Counselling, Early Years, professional learning, as well as being one of only four PGCE teacher training providers in Wales. As such it’s vital that we not only give our students the best quality teaching possible, but that we model good practice too. As future educators, our students need to be at the forefront of their discipline and look to us to provide the inspiration, skills and confidence to be able to do this.

“Aside from the new state of the art buildings and facilities, the pioneering new Sony Vision Exchange solution that UWTSD has invested in has made a key difference in how we work with our students and how they also work with us. Within Yr Athrofa, we have always put the students at the heart of everything that we do; we see them as true partners within the teaching and learning experience and Sony Vision Exchange really enables us to take that to the next level.

“With Sony Vision Exchange we can work with students in a way that is both dynamic and stimulating where together we all co-construct and mould the learning that takes place within the classroom. We are living in a time where information itself is not the defining reason why students choose to go to university but rather the quality of the experience as a whole. We recognise and facilitate this not just by providing the information they need to succeed but also by allowing them the opportunity to engage with that information in any number of ways.

“With this they are able to learn in a way that suits them and in a flexible environment that supports a multitude of learning preferences. As a lecturer it’s quite liberating and exciting to be able to tell students that we actually want them to use their phones, their tablets or their laptops in a teaching session. We don’t want them to hide their devices away, we want students to be able to use them to really help facilitate and drive forward their learning.

“Through the Sony Vision Exchange solution students can work together on projects or tasks and share content with each other in small groups and then also with the wider group. For me, I love the fact that I can, in turn, share my content directly with them in real time.  If I want to I can capture the feedback and discussions in the room, annotate my slides and then allow the students to directly download these to their own devices.

“It means that they are free to talk and really engage with the topic and not worry about missing out on writing down what’s being said as they know it’s all going to be available for them at the end of the session.  It makes the students more relaxed and they can have the confidence to truly listen and engage at a much deeper level as they’re not frantically taking notes constantly.

“This is only just a part of what we’re learning to do here in Yr Athrofa with our new facilities and Sony Vision Exchange and the possibilities with this solution are really fantastic. I am very much looking forward to seeing how we can develop it further through expert guest lectures that can be streamed directly into the room from all over the world allowing us to access an even wider range of expertise for our students.

“It’s so important for me to know that students are able to have confidence in the teaching we provide within Yr Athrofa and also for them to know that we want to work with them and not just talk at them. This is the beginning of what is a very new direction for higher education teaching, and I am privileged to be part of this journey.”

Further Information

Rebecca Davies

Swyddog Gweithredol Cysylltiadau â’r Wasg a’r Cyfryngau

Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

Tel: 01792 483695
Mobile: 07384 467071
Email: Rebecca.Davies@uwtsd.ac.uk