It’s no secret that in recent years and decade’s education has been changing. Some changes are disputed, such as admission fees. Some are rare, such as The University of Essex’s decision to terminate the use of exams in their philosophy course. Others are frankly odd. University of Durham now offers a course called Harry Potter and the age of Illusions, in which students study issues such as the relationship between Gryffindor and Slytherin and what this says about prejudice and intolerance in the classroom. Whether or not your acceptance letter arrives via owl remains to be seen.
What these examples have in common is the feeling that education should always be moving forward. Social media is a more prominent example. Once abhorred by education, it has now become a reliable resource; students are encouraged to like College Facebook pages; use WhatsApp groups to keep in contact with their peers over group projects; and use twitter to view into a world of opportunities by following the right people and keeping tabs on the right hashtags. It all paints a picture of an education system that wants to keep up to date with the world around it, to adapt to the changing needs of students and the ever evolving way in which they can be taught.
The South West College is no different, and the planned new Erne Campus development, which will be situated at the former Erne Hospital site in Enniskillen is hoped to revolutionise education in the region. Coming as a response to the demand for places, the development will be a state-of-the-art educational and community facility which will cost in the region of £25 million. Minster for Employment and Learning, Stephen Farry has said it is a ‘long term commitment to ensuring that the people of this area have access to the very best which further education has to offer.’
These ambitions are nothing new for The South West College. Rather it is a continuation of the emphasis towards interactive learning in an environment which is both comfortable and modern. Recent innovations such as the CREST centre, launched in 2015 with the aim of developing and testing sustainable construction methods and materials, has kept the College at the forefront of training for the Construction industry; while the Idea centre at the heart of the Omagh campus, is a unique interactive learning and exhibition space which supports the pursuit of conceiving, nurturing and developing new ideas which can be prototyped and tested.
The new Erne Campus development will aim to continue this. Director and Chief Executive at South West College, Malachy McAleer has said it ‘will be supporting a whole new style of learning and teaching…the best example we can give you is the Media Centre in Enniskillen (IMAGE), that’s the new way of teaching and learning as opposed to having a lot of classrooms. Learning has moved on from your standard classroom.”
You can get a taste of this future of learning and experience the environment of creative thinking at South West College by visiting Niche 2, Northern Ireland’s Creative Hitech Expo, on Friday 11th March (09:30 to 18:00) at the colleges Enniskillen Campus. This celebration of digital creativity offers the opportunity to hear from industry leaders in the fields of 2D animation, gaming and visual communication, and get an insight look at the future of educational opportunities.