THE future of learning for students at Warwickshire College’s Leamington centre is looking very bright - and rather different - as it progresses with a £12 million refurbishment project.
Work is already underway on a £7 million extension to the front of the building and the new space - consisting of ‘learning zones’, ‘pods’ to make use of Apple technology and marketplaces for students to pitch their products and ideas - is expected to be complete by September next year.
Chris Paget, executive director for asset development at the college, said: “The new space will bring together all the facets of the building to give it some form of central focus.
“There will be ‘learning zones’, with walls students can scribble ideas on and corridors with spaces for them to hold discussions.
“The idea is to bring teaching out of the classrooms and make the most of every resource we have.”
Students will be free to enter ‘pods’, in which they can project information from their iPads or iPhones onto an Apple television screen, while they will also be areas along the corridors for them to exchange ideas with students on other courses or make links with businesses and community groups.
Mr Paget said: “We want there to be more integration, for example construction students can come here to work with accountancy students, so they can learn how to apply skills in other areas. We are trying to give them greater employability. We want them to be able to make the most of every skill they have got.
“Our students have already started learning in new ways. For example if we need a fence fixing at the college, we can get the students to deal with the bid, risk assessments and insurance implications and then carry out the work themselves - and they will be paid for it.”
He added: “It has been really interesting to see how much the way our students at Rugby have changed the way they learn since the college opened a new £33 million centre in the town.”
The Leamington centre has already opened a new science block, where classrooms are being used as ‘test’ areas to see how the new space might work.
By the end of the overall project, which is expected to be finished by September 2014 and likely to have cost £12 million, the whole site in Warwick New Road will have been redesigned to accommodate the new ways of learning the college is taking on.
While work progresses, students are continuously being encouraged to think in terms of applying their learning to enterprise, The college is taking part in Colleges Week, which starts on Monday and will involve tutors visiting schools across the county to talk about enterprise and entrepreneurship.
Next week is also Global Entrepreneurship Week, as part of which Julie Meyer, dragon in the BBC’s online Dragons’ Den, is visiting the college’s Rugby centre, while students taking part in the college’s ‘Entrepreneurial Week’ will be running activities such as offering winter car checks and valeting servies, selling artwork and creating their own market garden.