by Sophie Houghton, Digital Learning Developer
As part of a new Education Incubator project, I’d like to introduce the University of Exeter’s Digital Maker Space (DMS). I’m Sophie, and I’m the Digital Learning Developer for Renewable Energy. I’m working in a team alongside Barrie Cooper, Pierre de Brosses, Valentin Kozsla, Henry Ukomah and Sai Mahima Kshetragna, and we will be attempting to develop new and exciting learning resources using a variety of technologies that can be found in Exeter University’s Digital Maker Spaces. We will also be working alongside three Student Project Coordinators, who will assist in liaising with the wider student body and be an integral part of creating these innovative resources, and learning more about how the DMS can be used to benefit their modules and programmes.
The Digital Maker Spaces are physical locations across the Streatham and Penryn campuses, where the latest digital equipment is available to borrow for educators, students, learning developers, and other staff to enhance their digital creativity. These spaces carry a variety of equipment from cameras, microphone systems, Gimbals, tripods, and Clamps. The space on Streatham campus is located on floor -1 of the Forum Library. The room is easy to spot as it’s the one that opens out into the Seal Courtyard. The space in Penryn can be found in the Daphne Du Maurier building in the Renewables Lab, DDM3030. Locations, accompanied with some helpful maps, can be found in the DMS Sharepoint page, which also hosts our weekly Thursday (14:00 to 15:30) ubiquitous meetings. These run both in person and are streamed in both locations through Microsoft Teams. You can also request an item through our SharePoint page and view the equipment list.
Our Education Incubator project will utilise our aforementioned team, academic staff and other stakeholders to design, create, evaluate and showcase digital resources and learning experiences relating to the Digital Maker Space. The resources and experiences created will be student-driven and co-created with a particular focus on accessibility and inclusivity. For example, the 3D camera could be used to capture footage that could be integrated into an immersive virtual field trip with use cases such as pre- and post-trip virtual sessions, as well as providing an alternative means of engaging with the field trip where accessibility is an issue (e.g access to a mine for a student in a wheelchair). We mainly want to utilise the technology to experiment with any new ideas for modules, alongside creating resources to train staff and students to use the technology safely and most effectively.
This is an exciting project for several reasons. Firstly, it allows us to work alongside the Digital Maker Spaces as they grow in resources and popularity and provide an excellent new space for staff and students to develop their ideas, and play with all sorts of technology. It also means we are able to use technology that has, up until being repurposed by these spaces, gone mostly unused. Finally, it’s really exciting that this project has the potentials of developing inclusive and accessible resources that could have a real, tangible, and positive impact on student education. Over the coming months, we hope to create several resources that will go through various evaluation processes by students and staff, with the outcome being a successful showcase to relevant stakeholders to truly bring home the benefits the Digital Maker Spaces have, and hopefully get more academics and students to utilise them for future learning. There may be some challenges, perhaps with utilising all the technology that the Digital Maker Spaces have to offer, or perhaps concerning reservations people might have of changing their old methods. However, we truly believe this project will provide an excellent basis for technological innovation across the university.