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Growing Regional Outputs With Innovative Next Generation Communications (Growing Comms) Project

Gower College Swansea, NPTC Group of Colleges – Neath and Newtown Campuses, Pembrokeshire College, Swansea University - Wales, UK



Wales, UK

Year/Completion Date:


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Project Team:

The project is a collaboration between Swansea University and Further Education (FE) partner institutions: Gower College Swansea, Pembrokeshire College, and the NPTC Group of Colleges.

About the project

  • The project intended to enhance collaboration between higher education (HE) and further education (FE), support new teaching approaches and enhance regional cross-institutional collaboration through creating digitally enhanced collaborative spaces at each partner institution.
  • It grows regional development by improved collaborative working and increasing student awareness of FE and HE education options.
  • Increase engagement, innovation and technology transfer between industry and education institutes while creating more opportunities for enhanced training, skills, and education.
  • Each of the four institutions involved created an active learning space they can use to teach in. They can also use the space to link to partner institutions for collaboration and host industry-led innovation events.

Case Study Highlights

  • Enhance the collaboration between higher education (HE) and further education (FH) by creating active learning spaces (ALSs) at each institution.
  • ALSs are linked using modern virtual collaborative platforms.
  • ALSs linked across the region act as innovation hubs and learning spaces for blended learning where face-to-face activities can be merged with online collaboration.


Design Approach

Create active learning spaces (ALSs) at each institution. Instead of installing the same design at each location, it was decided that each institution design a room to suit their needs to ensure the long-term use of the room.

Gower College Swansea – Room C10
The aim was to create a Collaborative Space that combined good design and technology to support and enhance teaching, learning and collaboration across the entire educational landscape of FE.
The room is equipped with 3 types of seating areas with high-chairs and tables, stools, regular chairs, and tables. The seats are placed around the tables to allow students to work in small groups and listen to a conventional lecture.

Swansea University – Room B014
As the room selected for the project (B014) was used for traditional lectures, it needed to be adjustable to allow for all ways of teaching. The technical solution here is to utilise wall-mounted screens with webcams to create communication huddle spaces. Also,  the existing lectern and main display were kept and updated to enable conventional lectures.

NPTC Group of Colleges – Neath and Newtown Campuses
The aim was to produce a flexible, technological learning space that would encourage teaching staff to move away from traditional delivery models. Two rooms were identified within the Group, one in Neath and the other in Newtown; the two sites are 90 miles apart, over a two-hour drive. These resources would enable students within the Group to participate in joint learning activities and connect with others outside the Group of colleges.
The rooms followed a similar design and layout to the facilities in partner organisations. They are divided into three areas:

  1. The collaborative learning spaces are made up of a high-top table and four high-chairs encouraging the students to stand. Each collaborative space has a shared screen mounted on the wall and cables to connect various devices. The facility in Neath has four collaborative spaces, and the facility in Newtown is smaller, with three collaborative spaces. The rooms have access to laptops that the students can use if they do not have their own devices.
  2. The flexible space contains desks that can be used in several configurations to suit the users' needs. The desks can be removed to create an open space for use with virtual reality technology.

Pembrokeshire College – Mobile Room
Pembrokeshire College has always embraced the use of technology in learning and teaching, winning multiple awards. They already run an online school offering synchronous and asynchronous courses to learners all over the world. All classrooms are fitted with interactive whiteboards and WIFI coverage across the campus. Pembrokeshire College standard learning and teaching classroom methodology are based on easily configurable spaces in which desks are lightweight enough to be moved to facilitate group work, didactic and individualised classes.
However, as their classroom utilisation rate is very high, configuring a single space would not have been practical as the room would not have been readily available for multiple groups to book. Therefore, they decided on mobile facilities that can be moved from one classroom to another. Using this new equipment, Pembrokeshire College is also planning to create a permanent two-way video conference facility between two of their remote locations so that the teachers involved can teach learners across both centres (mainly in animal care).

©Jisc and Matt Lincoln
©Jisc and Matt Lincoln
© Paul Holland
© Paul Holland
© Colin Bevan
© Colin Bevan
© Colin Bevan

Design Strategies

© Gower College
© Swansea University

User Feedback

  • Growing Comms has enhanced collaboration between further education and higher education. The project has enabled developing active learning pedagogy using virtual reality. See the project report below for further information.


  • Gower College Swansea – Room C10: Having moveable and flexible furniture and technology allows the room to be configured to the needs of teaching and learning in ways that support numerous pedagogic approaches.
  • Swansea University – Room B014: Furniture is flexible and moveable (tables and chairs on wheels) to allow the room to be reconfigured in varying setups to accommodate different users, purposes and events in the space. Large whiteboards were mounted on the wall to allow students to combine the use of digital equipment with analogue.
  • NPTC Group of Colleges – Neath and Newtown Campuses: A flexible space contains desks that can be used in several configurations to suit users' needs. The desks can be removed to create an open space for use with virtual reality technology.
  • Pembrokeshire College – Mobile Room: The mobile facility consists of interactive boards equipped with videoconferencing tools (wide-angle camera, microphone and speaker) mounted on trolleys and a set of iPads. These can be placed either in the same room or can be deployed to various college ‘zones’ across the campus.


  • The digitally enhanced ALS with collaborative screens; personal computers (PCs); electronic whiteboards; webcams; wide-angle cameras; room microphones.
  • Videoconferencing facilities, interactive Clevertouch boards mounted on height-adjustable and VR headsets.


  • Wi-Fi enabled connectivity between all devices and linked spaces using cloud-based virtual collaborative platforms to increase collaboration and innovation opportunities.
  • Modern software-based collaboration and communication platforms (CCPs) include VR technology.

Further Information