Guests from across Parliament and the Higher Education sector gathered for a reception at the University of Westminster inside a high-tech accessible classroom, the so called Sticky Campus learning space.

The University of Westminster is undertaking a five-year programme to redesign all classrooms with the goal of creating spaces that incorporate online learning into face-to-face classes - blended learning spaces. To inspire the next phase of its programme, the University is hosting the so-called Sticky Campus learning space for the month of January 2018. These digital classrooms allow learners to use their own technology in the classroom; students can take personal notes as well as actively participate in the class activity, in some cases collaborating directly with peers via the cloud.

Policy Connect’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology has organised the event, which draws attention to new technologies that make universities more inclusive for disabled and non-disabled students alike. After the University’s Acting Vice-Chancellor Graham Megson addressed the crowd, the Minister for Disabled People, Sarah Newton MP, utilised the interactive interface to address attendees on the potential for innovative technology to remove barriers to education for disabled students.  The event was attended by members of the APPG, including Seema Malhotra MP, Lord Holmes and Lord Addington; guests from across the Higher Education sector; and students from the University of Westminster.

Westminster student on Sticky campus
From left to right: Hannah Davis, a final year Photography BA Honours student at the University of Westminster; Seema Malhotra MP and Lord Holmes, the two co-chairs of the APPG. Photo: Policy Connect

The Sticky Campus is a high-tech learning space that has been designed to allow disabled and non-disabled students to collaborate on an equal footing. In the new learning space, lecturers can push content to students’ screens, and students can collaborate on tasks in real time, using their own personal devices. For instance, a student with visual impairment can use specialist magnification software from their own computer to participate in group work with other students.    

Professor Graham Megson said: “As a Professor of Computer Science it is particularly encouraging to see technological advances and ubiquity of computing devices now realising their potential and making a radical contribution to the way that students and academic staff can work together to promote and advance the dissemination of knowledge and enhance learning.”

Professor Roland Dannreuther, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience, said: “I am delighted to welcome the Sticky Campus to the University of Westminster. The University has always been committed to the values of diversity and inclusion and we are currently redesigning all our classrooms so that we can provide a transformative learning experience for all. We constantly seek to break down barriers to learning and ensure that we are cutting-edge and innovative in our teaching and in our use of technology.”

Seema Malhotra MP (Labour and Co-op), Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology, said: "Assistive Technology can be life-changing and for many it is vital to independence and confidence with great potential to improve achievement in Higher Education. Closing the disability education attainment gap is vital to give people with disabilities the best chance in life.

“Technology is transforming modern higher education, and we need to see a greater spread of best practice in universities to grow flexible and inclusive learning environments for disabled and non-disabled students alike.”

Cover image from left to right: Professor Graham Megson, Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Westminster; Seema Malhotra MP; Lord Addington. Photo: Alex F Lawson

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