Cherwell IT Service Management Blog
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BYOD at universities: I want to use my tablet in a cool-looking place

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As someone who has an interest in architecture and design, I was keen to see Simon Birkett’s recent presentation, on ‘BYOD—learning-centerchallenging the design of learning spaces & infrastructure’. Tech meets architecture. This was very exciting to me and I couldn’t wait to find out the details.

Simon is the Technology Enhanced Learning Manager at the Institute for Learning Enhancement and Innovation, University of Derby, and he’s also the chair of SCHOMS.

Early in his presentation, Simon made a comment that grabbed me. He said (something along the lines of): “Students have a choice in regards to where they learn. We should offer services that don’t drive them away to other services. We should be open and encourage students to come to us because we offer all the right services.”

This is very true. And this also rings true for Service Desks at universities. We all know about the tech expectations, service expectations and general high expectations students have when they come to university with their multitude of personal tech devices. And, we all know that Service Desks really can no longer afford to say ‘no.’

Simon’s presentation discussed and showcased ideas of leaning spaces designed for today’s learning and technology needs and demands. How technology is incorporated seamlessly into these spaces. How everything in the space can move and be reconfigured instantly to meet students, teachers and learning needs.  How the space is designed from a technology and aesthetic point of view. WiFi everywhere. Plug-ins everywhere. BYOD heaven. The examples Simon showed did not look anything like any leaning space I encountered at university back in the late 80s.

I left Simon’s presentation wanting to learn more, so I visited the SCHOMS website and accessed its July 2013 Connections newsletter, which contained an article the highlights John Coulter’s presentation at this year’s SCHOMS Annual Conference. As IT Director for a new building at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, John introduced IT and AV requirements much earlier than usual in the design process – at the concept stage – stage one so IT requirements were known from the very start.

Click here to view Simon’s presentation on ‘BYOD—challenging the design of learning spaces & infrastructure’.

So, not only is IT supporting the BYOD demands from students in regards to support services, its working together with Estates, Space Design and academic staff to create collaborative learning spaces in which students can use their own devices to succeed with their coursework and to enhance their learning. There’s been a true mind shift from, as Simon puts it, “what we can’t do to what we can do.”