Ajenta; instrumental in solving problems faced in rural areas

Ajenta are excited to be part of EduTech 19, participating in the discussion around the future of primary and secondary education.

Since our inception, Ajenta have been instrumental in solving problems faced in rural areas across both education and healthcare, helping deliver core-curriculum across a common video platform for the Western Isles/e-Sgoil, The Highland Council, Aberdeenshire, UHI as well as many schools, colleges and universities across rural Wales, assisting in closing the attainment gap for the UK as a whole.

Vscene, the video collaboration platform for education and research previously provided by Jisc is now fully owned and operated by Scottish company, Ajenta. This unique service is used to facilitate teaching to schools, FE, HE and research. The service is also used across the NHS within the UK for learning as well as provide a highly secure infrastructure for the support of video enabled telehealth and telecare.

Ajenta CEO John Wilson says; “The Vscene platform enables us to make a tangible improvement to the availability and the efficiency of learning across areas that would otherwise not have access to critical parts of the curriculum. We can now work with teachers not only to help deliver core teaching but to give access to a very diverse range of subjects”

e-Sgoil, run by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in the Western Isles delivers live interactive lessons differing from a traditional university or college method of delivering online learning, where students may receive a lecture remotely over Vscene and work through course material independently.  e-Sgoil GTC registered teachers always remain in front of their class teaching in real-time.

EduTech 2019

Steven Graham, Principal Teacher of STEM at e-Sgoil, adds: “It’s a vehicle that can be used to support the delivery of education at any level from primary to secondary, right through to adult learners beyond school. Equity is behind everything that e-Sgoil is trying to do”, says Steven. “We aim to bring about greater opportunities for learners so that they’re able to study what they want, where they want at any particular level. By improving personalisation and choice, you also have the result that pupils are more motivated.

The Vscene platform we use to deliver lessons is also has the facility to record lessons, which can be uploaded to a shared space on Glow. Any pupil who misses out as a result of absence then has the opportunity to catch up.”

e-Sgoil Headteacher Angus Maclennan says: “It’s not about IT replacing teachers. Its about teachers who use IT effectively providing an additional delivery method.  One of the primary reasons e-Sgoil was set up was to help provide a wider, more equitable choice of subjects to learners. The flexible nature of e-sgoil means it can help schools that are having staffing difficulties, perhaps because of their location or small size. When e-Sgoil started in 2016 we were reaching one subject, Gaelic to Aberdeen City and that was on a trial and error basis. Now we’re at the stage where we are delivering 39 courses across 8 local authorities in 25 schools”.

Ajenta are also working in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway College and Borders College on the ‘Digital Spokes’ project which will join up the two colleges as part of initiative to connect and share teaching resources and extend their curriculum by connecting Vscene technology to schools across the region in an innovative and collaborative approach. Each “Hub” and “Spoke” is a Vscene learning and teaching space with interactive touchscreens, 4K video connections and teacher tracking cameras.

The South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SOSEP) announced a major funding package last year with the lion’s share going to Borders and Dumfries and Galloway Colleges. Plans have been submitted which would see an extension built in Dumfries for the renewable’s hub, with another part of the college reconfigured to teach care subjects. The proposals are part of a wider, multi-million-pound investment in “key projects” to boost the area’s economy.

They would see Dumfries and Galloway College’s Dumfries campus extended to showcase the use of renewable energy and use it as a teaching tool. It is hoped the work can be completed in time for the new academic year at the end of this summer.

The college’s head of corporate services Billy Currie said the opportunity to expand the site was welcomed. Mr Currie said, “the expansion could help the college meet its carbon targets but also deliver benefits right across the region, all the way from Stranraer right across to Eyemouth – digitally connected through hubs and spokes,” he said.

“The hubs will be based in Stranraer, Dumfries, Hawick and Galashiels – so we have got a network there. But from those hubs we go out to spokes which are within schools at this moment in time, so we are digitally connected using the latest virtual classroom technology.” It will mean people can connect from a hub, a spoke or even – potentially – their own home.