Smart Campus vs. Traditional Learning Environment

Higher Education Institutions compete on various levels to attract students. Finding an institution that carries a good reputation has become increasingly important to students, as more and more people hold degrees and compete for compelling jobs after graduation. In many instances, the reputation of Universities and third-level education institutions is shaped by rankings on a national and international level. However, the academic ranking of the higher education institution is not the only point of critique of students. The four most important points of criteria are:

  • Availability of academic majors
  • Cost of attendance
  • Location
  • On-campus facilities and amenities

The modern students are digital natives, and their expectations exceed dusty libraries and a professor writing formulas on the blackboard. Like in their personal lives, they want to have a well-rounded and seamless experience with technology that integrates into their everyday life and just does everything in a smarter way. As the smart technology driver Siemens put it, “The campus of tomorrow is digital, agile, and flexible.”

But what exactly needs to change for the old traditional campus to become a modern Smart Campus that speaks to students? And what are the advantages of having a so-called Smart Campus?

The Smart Campus, also known as Next Generation Campus, serves as an interface between Smart Homes and Smart Cities. But what is meant by this? Through an intelligently connected everyday university life, digital natives are offered new experiences that they already know and use from their private lives. Like many other smart applications and experiences, it’s about communicating with other systems, devices, or the internet. A Smart Campus starts with ubiquitous, reliable, and wireless connectivity – indoors and out: a digitally connected university that uses these smart applications in everyday life on campus in a wide variety of situations. The solutions range, for example, from preventive monitoring to individual room control and smart access control. What is the room number of the upcoming seminar, where is the nearest colour printer, and how can I get to the library without barriers? Smart Campus applications provide an overview of a constantly changing campus. They show students and academic staff what’s happening around them and guide them to their destination as quickly as possible.

In short, a Smart Campus connects devices, applications, and people to enable new services, improve efficiencies and enhance the experience of students and staff on campus. It offers entirely new opportunities to the organisation itself with a potential increase in operational efficiency, cost savings, and the improvement of public safety.

The Benefits of Smart Campus Design

The networked campus provides a digital foundation that favours implementing new services that make life, learning, and work much more efficient and easier for students and university staff. For example, campus ID cards registered on the network can confirm presence at events where attendance is mandatory. This allows lecturers to bypass the process of requesting attendance or passing lists for students to sign. Furthermore, the campus IDs can be combined with smart payment, making payment transactions in the canteen or at the university bookstore much faster.

The IoT infrastructure can reduce both costs and the ecological footprint, as a large part of the building management processes can be automated. For example, sensors connected to the network monitor both room and overall building usage, automatically making electricity and heating consumption adjustments. The same is applicable for more conscious, ecological water consumption. Hello Lamp Post just launched a project to measure air quality on UBS’s campus in Canada. The more devices and applications that are part of the IoT infrastructure, the more efficient operational processes can be streamlined and automated.

The possibilities with Smart Campuses seem almost endless. Directions, electronic locks for lockers, mobile check-in’s in student flats, automated lending of books, intelligent parking, mobile booking of study rooms, ordering food in the cafeteria, or checking the availability of fitness equipment via an app are all examples of Smart Campus applications. Whether you are looking for the room number for the upcoming seminar or a specific book in the library, something is constantly changing on campus. Smart Campus applications give you an overview. They show students, lecturers, and academic staff what is happening around them and guide them to their destination in the quickest way possible. The administration also benefits: if there are disruptions somewhere on the campus, anyone can report what’s wrong via an app. Smart Campus applications also help staff with planning and documentation tasks for the campus infrastructure. To summarise, Smart Campus technologies can help to:

  • Design life and learning to meet the student needs
  • Create more flexible learning environments (Smart Learning)
  • Implement modern and digital work processes
  • Better balance between passive learning, active research, and collaboration
  • Create learning spaces for efficient work – alone or together with fellow students – booking flexibility
  • Reduce energy consumption
  • Enhance student engagement policy
  • Reduce electricity costs
  • Increase sustainable resource management
  • Improve the quality of work and life for students and staff
  • Increase student satisfaction through student engagement techniques

The Four Principles of Smart Campus Design

Deloitte created a student engagement framework that helps institutions along the journey to develop their Smart Campus. The focus lies in the enablement of innovative practices that revolutionise the campus experience and drive operational efficiency, by leveraging the benefits of interconnecting elements. Deloitte developed these four key principles to foster a connected and consumer-centric solution for anyone involved in campus life.

The four principles are as follows:

1) Intuitive and simple to use

2) Design thinking and persona-centric

3) Modular, adaptive, flexible and intelligent

4) Adoptable and scalable

Intuitive and simple to use – Students are digital natives who are used to systems that act and react in an innate and effortless way. Smart Campuses have to live up to this, and the underlying platforms should allow for interaction in various forms such as video, gesture, voice, or touch to create a seamless, intuitive user experience.

Design thinking and persona-centric – Design thinking is a problem-solving approach centred around a specific persona, in this case, the people interacting on campus. This approach ensures that real value is delivered to the end-user. Thinking about their day-to-day problems and the underlying use cases will help to bring their user journey to the next level and transform the on-campus experience.

Modular, adaptive, flexible, and intelligent – The student engagement technology and built-in platform need to have the capabilities to grow. They need to be in line with the further development of the campus and match the current and changing needs of campus life. According to the Deloitte report, an optimised Smart Campus solution should utilise a domain-driven architecture centred around micro services – ensuring the flexibility to evolve with the campus over time. This approach frees up resources to address the challenge of changing needs of the end-users and different personas.

Adoptable and scalable – Adoptability and scalability are important factors that are connected with costs and reach. The Smart Campus solution should aim to allow higher education institutions to scale hassle-free. The road to success is paved by a data-driven experience that is created by leveraging digital tools and technologies. Smart Campus solutions have the power to support students by crossing the physical campus border and can offer support in virtual online classrooms.

The Mission

How Hello Lamp Post helped to make the campus of one of Canada’s most prolific universities a little smarter. What was initially designed to be a pilot project turned out to be the game-changer of UBC’s campus life, when an effective student engagement and communication tool was introduced. Hello UBC was designed to engage students and staff on campus innovatively to support the parking and access services team. Static objects like parking meters, lamp posts, elevators, and more were made interactive and ready to have unique conversations with everyone on campus in and around parkades and parking lots.

The Outcome

Parking and access services are gaining new insights into challenges within parking and mobility across campus. Hello Lamp Post was able to provide the UBC campus with a wide, resilient network for student communications, available 24/7 at the point of access. This network has successfully provided a continuous feedback system for the university to address the students’ and visitors’ pain points commuting to campus. The pilot was so successful that UBC and Hello Lamp Post now continue the rollout of more objects and just recently launched a project that uses sensors to monitor air quality on campus. If you want to learn more about this Hello Lamp Post case study, click here or check out some other interesting articles on student engagement.

“By turning everyday objects into beacons for conversation, we’ve shown that we can engage the campus through specific and personal interactions. The real-time data we’ve received has given us insight into the pain points and wants of our commuters, allowing us to make informed strategic decisions.”- (Brian Jones, UBC)

Applying Smart City technology to college campuses has been recognised as a way of future-proofing universities to become more adaptable. According to Deloitte Smart Campuses that help foster student engagement allow governing bodies to understand the patterns around various activities and initiatives within a campus. This can help a school foster inclusion and drive equity. Initiatives designed around inclusion and diversity can provide valuable, actionable insight.

In the realm of Smart Campuses in the UK and Ireland, one campus sticks out in particular – Glasgow. The Glasgow Smart Campus Digital Masterplan sets out the project’s explicit goals, which mainly aim to drive innovation by fostering a culture for change and exploiting technological evolution. In this document, 2/6 critical success factors were identified as student and staff satisfaction, highlighting the space Hello Lamp Post can fill through its public participation solution.

The second location of note is Manchester Metropolitan University, which has implemented several smart city initiatives scaled down to suit their Smart Campus over the last number of years. This project aims to interlink four projects: way-finding, global online, lecture capture, and eduroam, with a primary focus on student engagement. Continuous implementation has meant that feedback loops are pivotal to overall project success, showcasing an opportunity for Hello Lamp Post to excel in once again.

In Conclusion

To conclude, Smart Campuses are changing, and student engagement definitions and strategies are too. A student-centric approach to campus operations has shown to be efficient in the long run, and innovative, hedonic, and playful solutions are tried and tested to be effective. The solution provided by Hello Lamp Post is adaptable, meaning it can answer questions you didn’t know you needed the answer to and resolve problems you didn’t know existed. If you want to speak with a member of our specialist team, reach out through our contact form.