South Devon UTC

South Devon is a University Technical College based in Newton Abbot, Devon

The Challenge

South Devon is a University Technical College (UTC) based in Newton Abbot, Devon. Across the curriculum there’s a focus on engineering, water and the environment.

The UTC provides a high quality and cutting-edge technical education for 14 to 19 year-olds. Students learn a mix of traditional academic subjects and vocational skills and benefit from lessons at the college and work placements held at the premises of their business partners, including South West Water, Centrax Turbine Components and Linden Homes. South Devon UTC’s partners include Exeter University and South Devon College. South Devon UTC were in temporary accommodation, awaiting the move into their permanent accommodation.

“At South Devon UTC we are committed to providing a first-class practical education for the region’s young people to prepare them for the world of work.”

Ian Crews, Principle

What We Did

Following Gaia’s appointment as preferred bidder, the Gaia team immediately engaged with South Devon UTC, at their own risk, to accelerate the discussion about the technical solution for both the temporary and permanent accommodation. Gaia’s Head of Education visited to gain insight into the UTC’s educational vision and share with the principal designate ways in which the go-live training, enhanced CPD support and sponsored time from Gaia’s digital development team could be used to support teaching and learning.

An initial discussion focussed upon the virtual workspace and whether an open web approach or commercial VLE solution would best support the UTC’s project-based learning philosophy. The group reviewed the pros and cons of Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps and other cloud solutions, eventually arranging a demo of the My Learning UK VLE for the principal. This, combined with use of Office 365 cloud services, proved to be the ideal solution and its implementation was supported right at the start of the go-live training, with subsequent advisory support to refine the way it’s used.

Additional go-live support was targeted at the audio visual solution. Gaia ran an introductory workshop to introduce teaching and support staff to the wider solution. This included use of the touch-enabled display screens with Smart Notebook, Office 365 familiarisation and introduction to the students’ HP Stream devices.

“Bernard Dady, Gaia’s Head of Education, worked with us from an early stage, both to find the right solution for us and to plan Go Live training and beyond.

When the College first opened, staff were adapting to a new technology paradigm – working in the cloud – and Bernard’s team were responsive to our needs, providing guidance as required.”

Ian Crews, Principal

“We’re working in partnership with Gaia to plan a strategic approach to training and professional development because we know it will help us get the best out of our investment in technology.”

Ian Crews, Principal

The Outcome

At South Devon UTC, each student has personal use of an HP Stream laptop linked to cloud solutions, primarily Office 365 and the My Learning UK VLE. This necessitates a web-connected way of working. Gaia helped set up the student devices and provided simple user guides to support staff and students with first use.

South Devon UTC are using Impero classroom management software to monitor and enhance the use of student devices in lessons. The College have called in the services of one of Gaia’s expert trainers to familiarise staff with the management console and we will continue to support use of Impero as more sophisticated demands emerge. As well as core software, Gaia is also supporting deployment of industry standard software, such as the Autodesk Suite, to support the UTC’s specialist engineering and modelling requirements.

Gaia shares with South Devon UTC a passion for project-based learning. Our enhanced professional development offer provides the UTC with a matched funded professional learning and student engagement programme, with Gaia matching pound for pound the College’s own financial contribution. This is complemented by sponsored access to Gaia’s 3D visual learning resources and sponsored time to help co-develop new resources linked to the UTC’s specialisms.

The objective is to support South Devon UTC to embed the use of innovative technology and digital learning material into its project-based learning curriculum, so that students can enjoy a 21st century learning experience. Additionally, it allows us to support teachers with professional development that is rooted in real learning contexts and in which professional learning is itself delivered through a project-based learning methodology.

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