Building a 21st century model of learning involves all members of the institution in a process of change that requires more than short term, small scale projects. The goal has to be a learning environment that can support individuals in ways that are beneficial to learners and on a scale that is beneficial to the institution.
The evidence in the case studies in this section suggests that a wireless network can be used to unite all the functions of a learning institution, connecting all campus sites to learning materials on a VLE, to resources generated by partner institutions, and via the internet to wider sources of information. Managers and practitioners can then, in an ideal scenario, have instant access to course and student data, and learners to personalised course information and sources of support and guidance.
Learning space design is now blurring the division between formal and informal, learner- and group-focused learning activities. Learning resource centres and libraries are being reorganised to allow a variety of learning approaches to be supported, including collaborative group activities alongside refreshments in internet cafés. Guidance and learning support teams can also take advantage of wireless-enabled campuses, by making themselves available to learners wherever needed. Learners can access their timetable, pick up messages from their tutor and use resources via a handheld device.
This vision of a wireless-enabled hub of learning is able to enter a wider marketplace, drawing in different categories of learner, some of whom cannot attend classes regularly, but can be supported by course materials and tutorial support through external access to a learning environment from their own personal handheld device.
The achievability of this vision has to be assessed by each individual institution against:
- Its current strategic aims.
- The stage it has reached with implementation of e-learning.
- The availability of resources, both financial and human.
- The prevailing teaching and learning culture.
- Its self-evaluation against external measures of achievement, such as reviews, inspection reports and benchmarking data.
Explore in the next sections in this perspective how institutions have been able to transform their provision for learners as a result of implementing mobile and wireless technologies.