Latest innovation hub at City College Coventry set to raise the bar for e-learning

Last week saw the launch of City College Coventry’s Innovation Hub. We’re happy to be supporting our Global Partner Fujitsu in its vision to equip the UK’s schools and colleges with cutting-edge learning spaces designed to improve young people’s educational prospects.

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The launch came at a busy time for the college in the middle of its enrolment week, but dozens of staff, students and visitors came to mark the occasion. The space itself is in a prime location overlooking the city, and contains the latest technology from Fujitsu, Intel, Brocade and Epson, with local IT firm Memtek providing support. In his welcoming speech, Principal Steve Logan said: “Projects like this, and forward-thinking companies like Intel, Fujitsu and Brocade, are harnessing technology so it becomes as much a part of education as talk and chalk were.”

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The hub will be used by teachers and learners not only from the college’s digital courses, but from courses across the campus – from hairdressers to mechanics to flight crew. For example, the virtual-reality room will allow spray painters to virtually paint vehicles they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. “The message is clear,” says Logan. “Technology is woven into almost every career.” The college will also be offering networking certification through Brocade and IT training for teachers both in the college and from local schools.

Teachers challenged to innovate


Assistant Principal Clare Hatton said: “We were looking for a very different room, a different experience for students, and a different, challenging environment for our teaching staff. We wanted to take them out of their comfort zone in a nice way.” She added that the space had been designed to be reminiscent of a business environment. “We’re very conscious of raising student’s aspirations, so if a student went to work in a large technology company, this is the type of environment they’d be working in.” Intel Education Ambassador Marcus Lapsa who works at the college will be passing on what he’s learnt from the programme to help teachers at the college put new ways of working into practice, with an Internet of Things programme in the pipeline.

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A gateway to industry


The mastermind behind these hubs is Fujitsu’s Head of Education Ash Merchant. This is the fifth hub this year, with another five still to be launched and a growing list of schools eager to join the scheme. Merchant said: “These hubs were born of a vision that every child matters, and that every child should have the opportunity to learn the skills needed for employment. Industry partners like Fujitsu and Intel need to collaborate with education institutions to alleviate the STEM shortage in this country. There are only 400,000 students coming out of education with the skills needed to fill 1.4 million vacancies. We see places like City College Coventry bridging that gap between education and industry.”

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A new approach to CPD


We also managed to speak to Reza Mosavian, Head of e-learning at the college, who said: “the hub’s going to have a huge impact because it’s full of cutting edge technology, and the space itself will allow us to experiment with different teaching concepts in a safe environment. We also want students to play a part in that.” The college wants teachers to record their lessons in the hub – not only so students can access the videos after the class – but so the teachers can assess their own progress and review each other’s approaches, leading to more detailed analysis of their own professional development.

Keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up to this story, where we speak to some of the STEM ambassadors from the college, and hear how they’re encouraging new ways for girls in particular to follow STEM subjects.

Have you seen or used one of the Innovation hubs? Do you have ideas for how a hub like this could transform your school? We’d love to hear your feedback. Let us know in the comments below, or via our Twitter or Facebook page.