Wollongong Uni campus to become a 'living laboratory' for student tech

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Wollongong Uni campus to become a 'living laboratory' for student tech

CIO seizes opportunity to experiment.

University of Wollongong CIO Fiona Rankin plans to experiment with new digital services at a temporary campus soon to be opened in Sydney's south west.

The interim Liverpool site will start taking students in early 2017, and will operate until the main campus opens in 2020.

"We have the opportunity to create somewhat of a living laboratory here, while we have this temporary arrangement in place," Rankin told iTnews.

“The higher education sector is a bit of a moving technological feast, and there are always new things available that you need to be trialling out."

Rankin is eyeing off new capabilities in e-learning and digital student experiences that she can test at the new site, like smart campus technologies that use wi-fi connections to identify where campus foot-traffic is leading to congestion.

"We are very focused around user-centric design - that is, student-centric design - in terms of our overall student services offering,” Rankin said.

The CIO is even looking at the possibility of deploying facial recognition and other interactive technologies, plus CCTV analytics, in the Liverpool campus library.

The new site also offers the opportunity to tinker with the 'virtual classroom' and "anything that will lend itself to immersive teaching and learning", Rankin said.

UOW has already connected its Wollongong campus to a new fibre service, and is looking to extend that same network experience to the rest of its regional sites and the new Liverpool sites.

The fibre will begin to be laid as part of the bricks and mortar stage of the Liverpool construction, which starts next month. 

But the parallel build of the interim and permanent Liverpool campuses means Rankin and team will need to keep a close eye over the construction.

“We're very comfortable with the plans we have in place, but you can't afford to have too many things go wrong, and the nature of technology is things can go wrong," Rankin said.

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