Coventry University creates a unique mobile learning environment in its Serious Games Institute

December 02, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Coventry University has collaborated with Cisco® and Giunti Labs to create a highly innovative learning environment that blends mobile learning and virtual learning worlds technologies.

The university wanted to help give its Serious Games Institute (SGI) a technology platform on which to build a digital model of the campus building, so that students’ movements in both the real building and its virtual reconstruction trigger location based access to learning content and experiences. This means that content can be pushed to students by the most suitable method for their location and the device they are using.

The solution uses Cisco wireless location services to track real-world positions and movements integrated within the Giunti Labs learn eXact® learning content management system. The Giunti Labs software also allows any form of digital learning content to be repurposed ‘on the fly’ for use either in the virtual SGI environment or via any device connected to the Coventry University Cisco wired and wireless networks.

Beyond the SGI, the Coventry University deployment includes a number of notable technology features, including the largest centralised wireless system in the UK higher education sector and the first higher education Cisco call centre to be installed in the English Midlands.

Giunti Labs, SGI and Cisco are also planning to start working on what they call ‘extended positioning’ - that is, the standard inter-working and interoperability of position detection systems within real and virtual copies of the same facility.

These systems will enable students who are visiting a place - either in the real world or online – to meet, despite being physically separated by thousands of miles. The capability is being brought about by real-world and avatar-based positioning.

“Blending mobile and virtual worlds technologies has unmatched potential for producing effective technology-based learning,” commented Giunti Labs’ CEO, Fabrizio Cardinali.

The SGI deployment is part of a wider transformational project by Coventry University to create a smart campus that, by 2010, will help it take on more UK and overseas undergraduate and doctoral students, improve student and staff satisfaction, achieve a 50 per cent annual growth in applied research income and create a series of world-leading applied research centres and groups, among other objectives.

“We set ourselves the goal of transforming Coventry University into a destination of choice for students and academics from around the world,” said John Latham, pro vice-chancellor for business development at the university. “Supported by the technology and expertise provided by Cisco and Giunti Labs, our SGI has a number of advanced virtual learning capabilities, such as drag-and-drop positioning of digital learning contents, three-dimensional hotspot positioning, and triggering and tracking of learning content by an avatar.

“We also have the tools and functionality for the creation, packaging and management of Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)-compliant contents which can be contextualised and delivered to Windows Mobile 5 personal digital assistants within the SGI Cisco Wi-Fi network. And we can also reuse location based content also in other virtual worlds platforms, such as Forterra and Second Life.”

Angus Turpin, country manager, UK and Ireland for Giunti Labs, added: “A critical point about our software is that it complements the power of the Cisco network by making it possible to deliver raw content, without repurposing, to any device connected to that network, in a way which works for the device in question. Furthermore, SCORM, while not currently being used at Coventry, gives us the technical ability to measure the way users interact with the content - for instance, showing how much time a student has spent reading a learning module.

“This makes the system ideal for next-generation educational platforms where remote assessment is required, but also for wider applications such as the delivery of Sarbanes-Oxley related materials in a corporate setting.”

As part of this initiative, Cisco is providing a range of network, call centre and Unified Communications technologies. The company is working alongside the systems integrator Logicalis, which is responsible for installation, project management and support, and CableCom Access Technologies, which is supplying an integrated communications package for Coventry University’s network of student residences.

The entire university network has been refreshed and now comprises equipment including Cisco Catalyst® 6500, 3750, 3560 and 2960 Series Switches, a Cisco Unified Wireless Network featuring Wireless Services Modules and Cisco 4400 Series Wireless LAN Controllers, Cisco Unified Communications Managers and Cisco Unified Contact Center Express software.

“This is a story about partnership and collaboration, where we have used our network expertise and that of third parties, such as Giunti Labs, to create a completely new class of educational tools that will help Coventry University achieve its aim of becoming a world-class centre of higher education by 2010,” said Tim Liney, regional sales manager, higher and further education, Cisco UK. “It demonstrates perfectly our understanding of the education sector and our ability to work together with it to push back the boundaries of educational innovation.”


Further information from:
Angus Turpin, Giunti Labs, +44 (0)20 8819 2653
Minna Leikas, Giunti Labs, +39 3489 399127