The end of March saw the successful completion of the Business & Learning Connections project (B&LC) that Aston Media has been leading for five years. This Advantage West Midlands (AWM) funded initiative has assisted 104 local businesses and produced hundreds of multimedia learning materials that are used by FE and HE institutions across the West Midlands. While sorry to see this project end, we can now concentrate our resources on supporting teaching and learning within the University. Over the next few months, the previously separate operations of Aston Media and AV Support will be fully consolidated as Media & Learning Technologies (MLT) within the Centre for Learning, Innovation and Professional Practice (CLIPP).
Retaining responsibility for technologies in all pool learning spaces, MLT’s first major project will be the refurbishment of SW309. Over the summer this traditional raked theatre will be transformed into a collaborative flexible learning space, the first in the University specifically designed for block teaching, and which will initially be heavily used for the delivery of the foundation degree courses. The existing video recording facilities will be available to capture teaching sessions which can then be viewed via BlackboardTM when students return to their workplace.
Another significant milestone will be reached by the end of this summer's refurbishment programme when 100% of pool teaching rooms will be equipped with fixed audio visual equipment (PC and data projector/display screen) – up from only 32% - three years ago. Many rooms are further enhanced with electronic visualisers and interactive touch panels with learner response and lecture capture systems available as additional bookable resources.
In addition to managing physical areas MLT offers support and guidance in the use of virtual learning spaces. Working in close collaboration with colleagues in ISA, MLT can provide assistance in the development of resources and the use of applications within BlackboardTM and other associated technologies. MLT staff can boast a wealth of production experience, developed both in the broadcast industry and over the course of B&LC, which can now be utilised to deliver innovative multimedia solutions for CLIPP funded projects. Many of the 15 MLT related projects awarded in the first bidding call last December are now in production and will be included in a full programme of presentations open to all staff at the CLIPP Project Day on 12th June.
Staff within MLT are keen to collaborate with both internal and external partners and have recently been successful in attracting NHS West Midlands SHA funding for two recruitment and retention projects. The first, le
ad by Coventry University, requires the production of a series of introductory videos for new nursing students while the second, le ad by Aston, will see the development of an online toolkit to assist prospective students’ understanding of audiology courses.
While this increased focus on learning and teaching means MLT will no longer be able to so actively pursue commercial clients, its video production, design, encoding and technical support services will continue to be available to all internal departments on a cost recovery basis. Details and examples of the services on offer can be found in the CLIPP area of the University website while further information on technologies, including helpful instructional videos, are included in the Learning Technologies module available to all staff on BlackboardTM.
Words by Steve Ellis