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September 24, 2007

NTU Open Day - VLE enters the mainstream language... almost

I took Daisy (my eldest daughter) up to Nottingham on Saturday for the Nottingham Trent University (NTU) open day.  The City Campus, where we looked at the Interior Architecture and Graphic Design courses, is very nice and the arts-related buildings offer a very attractive space in which to study.  It was an interesting day out.

My overall impression of the day was how commercialised the whole thing has become.  We, particularly the parents, were there very much as prospective customers - we were buying a product.  In turn, the university was trying to convince us that its courses were just what we needed.  Glossy paper and flashy booklets were available in abundance.  In some ways this seems perfectly reasonable I guess.  But somehow it also feels very odd and not really what education should be about - from my "old skool" point of view at least.

On a different note, I noticed that one of our student guides on the day mentioned the NTU "VLE".  Blimey, I thought... fancy mentioning that particular TLA to a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds and their parents.  Perhaps the term "VLE" is becoming mainstream enough to use in casual conversations?  Unfortunately the student then proceeded to explain the acronym as "Visual Learning Environment"!  Doh... back to the drawing board :-(

I spent the day wondering what the right ICT-related questions are to ask of a university that you are thinking about going to?  Pervasiveness of the wireless network on campus I guess?  Availability (or not) of public computers and how long the queues are for them?  Opening hours of public computer labs (e.g. in the library)?  Printing costs?  Whether the rooms in halls of residence have a wired or wireless network and what the bandwidth is like?  Whether applications like Skype are blocked or not?

I've put a question up on my Facebook profile along these lines.  Feel free to answer.  I'm interested to know what people think are the hot issues in this area.

PS.  I did manage to mention Second Life once during the day, much to Daisy's disgust! :-)

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