Published on in EducationInnovation

As Education Director, I’m lucky enough to spend my workday interacting with the fantastic young people (and their brilliant teachers) who take part in Fujitsu’s education programme.

I’ve decided that it’s time to share this with you. In this new blog series, I’m going to shine a light on some of the schools, colleges and universities that are part of our Education Ambassador Programme.

Our programme aims to equip students with the digital skills they will need in the future. We collaborate with educational establishments across the UK (who become our ambassadors).

One of the key features of the Ambassador Programme is to offer access to best in class technology by installing an Innovation Hub in each Ambassador establishment. The Innovation Hub forms the central piece of an ongoing partnership between the Ambassador, Fujitsu and our programme partners. The innovation hub then can be enjoyed by students and the wider community as they develop their road to digital learning.

So far we’ve built 24 innovation hubs as part of the programme – and we’re aiming for 30 by the end of 2018.

They encompass the full range of education, from special educational needs (SEN) schools, Multi Academies Trust (MATs), Technical colleges (UTCs) , Further Education Colleges and Universities.

And just as our ambassadors reflect a range of different types of educational institution, they also represent a variety of different regions across the UK. We’ve got hubs up and down the country – and, as we announced recently at the 2018 BETT conference, we’re now delighted to be extending the Ambassador Programme into Scotland too.

First up for our spotlight: South Devon College, a further education college for students aged 16+, providing courses across 8 different campuses around Torbay in the South-West of England.

Fujitsu Hub South Devon College

Providing a digital platform for all students

South Devon College has been an ambassador for over 15 months, with an innovation hub being opened at the College in May 2017. Within 12 months they’ve already seen a huge difference in the way that students interact with technology.

The College is seeing more students across all subjects taking an interest in IT with the help of the innovation hub.

It’s visible as soon as students walk through the door of the College, where it catches their eye and peaks their curiosity.

And of course, it’s a great symbol that the College values and supports digital learning, and puts it at the heart of all they do.

When I spoke to the lecturers at South Devon College, they told me how important it is that every young person has a grounding in digital learning, no matter what their chosen education pathway is, before they finish their studies.

We’re moving into a digital economy where everyone will need a knowledge of tech, so the College is working hard to ensure that all their students are prepared. I’m immensely proud that the ambassador programme is helping them achieve this.

Fujitsu Education Ambassador Steve Caunter, Assistant Principal at South Devon College, said: “South Devon College is committed to preparing young people and the wider community for the next technological revolution and the digital economy. Both the Fujitsu Digital Innovation Hub and the new Hi-Tech and Digital Centre will provide numerous opportunities for all to develop their skills and prepare them for employment. The facilities, complete with cutting edge equipment, will become a centre of excellence delivering projects with the aim of demonstrating power of technology, helping all age groups to adapt to a digital age.”

Group Photo Fujitsu Hub Opening

Winning the Operation Innovation challenge

South Devon College also won Operation Innovation 2017.

For this competition, we challenged 20 teams from our ambassador institutions to solve a real-world problem in the education, utilities or manufacturing sector, using internet of things (IoT) technology.

The team from South Devon developed the ExPlus+, a tool that helps teachers engage with children with autism in a busy classroom environment.

The ExPlus+ utilises Fujitsu’s Sensing Band alongside a specially designed app. Together they help a teacher to monitor how a student with autistic spectrum condition (ASC) is feeling during a lesson.

This means the teacher will know to change the activity or the environment when a student with ASC starts to feel uncomfortable or can’t concentrate.

The ultimate aim of the ExPlus+ is to enable autistic students to be fully included in the learning environment, and to assist the support staff within the classroom – a goal totally in the spirit of the ambassador programme itself!

South Devon College also embodied the values of the programme in their approach to the challenge, as their team was made up of a mixture of students from tech and non-tech backgrounds.

After winning the challenge, the team flew to Munich to present their concept at Fujitsu Forum.  This was a great opportunity for both students and seasoned IT professionals to learn from each other!

Sharing a mission to raise ambitions

When I asked the lecturers from South Devon College why they wanted to join the ambassador programme, they highlighted aspiration as key.

They felt that we mirrored their aspirations in developing digital skills across the whole student population, but to also promote participation, engagement, creativity and achievement

Both of us understand that technology comes second to ambition, and so the priority should be finding ways to inspire students to enjoy technology.

According to the lecturers, this inspiration factor was the best part of winning Operation Innovation – the success has encouraged even more students to participate in digital projects than before.

A bright future ahead

I love hearing fabulous stories like these from South Devon College. It just proves that our programme is doing its job.

And there’s no doubt in my mind that there’s more to do, with the upcoming Hi-Tech and Digital Centre due to open there in September 2019.

But first, a big congratulations to the team at South Devon College for all of their success in delivering digital skills to their students.

I can’t wait to see what they get up to in the years ahead. I’m sure the future is bright.

Students In Fujitsu Hub

Remember to look out for the next spotlight featuring another one of our ambassadors.

If you’re interested in applying to be part of the ambassador programme, you can visit our portal here.

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