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Sony collaboration drives university’s scrapping of lecture halls

Sony’s collaborative solution, Vision Exchange, has sprung from a co-operation between the manufacturer and the University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD) that began in 2015. The oldest Royal Chartered University in Wales, UWTSD is investing significantly in its infrastructure to transform the educational experience for students across its campuses, which are located across south-west Wales as well as in London.

The university has partnered with Sony to scrap all of its traditional lecture halls and move to an entirely classroom, collaboration-based learning style – which is expected to improve engagement and attainment. During September 2017, the Faculty of Education and Communities and the Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering will begin piloting Sony Vision Exchange. The system will then be progressively deployed across UWTSD’s campuses, including its new facilities at SA1 Swansea Waterfront, which will open in September 2018.

Sony created Vision Exchange from scratch by working with UWTSD. As well as requiring technology that supported the introduction of new styles of active learning, the university stipulated that the solution should be simple and intuitive to use for all students and lecturers – regardless of their technical expertise.

The platform allows up to approximately 60 students to work collaboratively in small clusters, connecting wirelessly to Vision Exchange via their own Windows or Mac laptops, or tablets or smartphones. 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 seamlessly share content regardless of geographic location.

The partnership between the university and the manufacturer began after a fruitless search among the solutions for active learning available on the market. “Having evaluated the market and being unable to find a single system that met our needs in an efficient and user friendly manner, we were pleased to forge a relationship with Sony which enabled them to deliver the active learning platform now known as Vision Exchange, based on our requirements and feedback,” commented Lyndon Shirley, executive head of technology enhanced learning at UWTSD.

UWTSD approached most of the well-known AV vendors, but found none that could support the large classroom sizes needed, or could install the hardware in every single teaching space within two years. Also, the existing software packages were not found to be user-friendly for non-technical academics.

Shirley continued: “It’s important to everyone at UWTSD that we create an environment which facilitates a collaborative approach to active learning.”

Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, vice-chancellor of UWTSD said: “Such world class innovation will enhance the student and staff experience across our campuses and will mean that UWTSD students are pioneering new ways of learning that can be transferred to their professional careers.”

Garry Cox, education solutions manager at Sony Professional said: “Our development of Vision Exchange has evolved through our collaboration with UWTSD, helping us create a scalable and flexible solution specifically tailored to the needs of higher education. With the start of term just around the corner, it’s exciting to think about how this new dynamic style of pedagogy will help students at UWTSD and beyond.”

Active learning solutions from Sony UK