Are portals helping to achieve borderless education?
There are a growing number of universities that have campuses overseas as the UK has an increasing involvement in offshore education including international institutional partnerships. This growth provides some challenges for our universities in terms of being able to deliver to learners, lecturers and other key personnel a single access point to reach the resources they require easily, regardless of where they are.
There was a time that talking ‘portals’ sounded like a scene from Star Trek – but these days, especially in our learning institutions, they are becoming part of the every day vernacular as they provide a way for learning resources to be accessed at the touch of a button or the swipe of a screen. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, the portal has become a common goal for HE as the technology plays a role in removing borders to learning be them physical, cultural, language or role based, and more than that, it holds the key to personalisation. When combined with learning, personalisation is a very powerful thing indeed. Reaching your audience with the information they need puts them in the driving seat and keeps them engaged.
The personalised portal is the digital or mobile home page for every user with different ‘windows’ of information, resources and services pulled from other systems across the university. You need only log in once, and you can see everything you want – adapted to your preferences. There are simply endless possibilities for digitally connecting students, lecturers, researchers, support staff and functional administrators right across the university regardless of their geography.
Previously, it was almost impossible for students and other key personnel to know where to start looking to find information that was needed, or for the university to have a single access point to deliver the information consistently to it’s different audiences. Now they can identify the closest point of access with ease and need only log in once to see it.
In breaking down the borders for education, portals provide maximum freedom and diversity for people, albeit to operate within a framework. They allow knowledge creation and sharing between people both internally and externally and they create hubs of excellence. It’s possible to think beyond the physical walls of the university– to partner with the wider business community or to put heads together with another university on the other side of the world if necessary for research purposes.
Whether based in Norway or New Zealand, America or Austria - whatever the need, portals provide the answer to delivering our increasingly borderless education by opening the front door to personalised learning.