Sir Alan Wilson, Director-General for Higher Education at the Department for Education and Skills, had a first-hand look at new learning technologies today in KMi.
Sir Alan is a key advisor to the Secretary of State for Education and plays a critical part in the governments drive to widen participation and maintain a world-class university system. He was at the Open University for discussions wtih OU Vice Chancellor Prof Brenda Gourley and her senior team, and stopped in KMi to meet with PVC (LT) Paul Clark, KMi Chief Scientist Prof Marc Eisenstadt, and Prof Jim Coleman from the Department of Languages.
He saw a selection of KMi technologies including Magpie, Hexagon, and BuddySpace – all of interest to Sir Alan whose career has encompassed particle physics, work as a mathematical adviser to the Ministry of Transport and tenure as Professor of Urban and Regional Geography at Leeds. Indeed, Sir Alan's work on human geographical modelling at Leeds was commercialised through the formation in 1990 of GMAP, an extremely successful company which devises computational techniques that simulate customer behaviour.
Prof Jim Coleman took Sir Alan through an extended Lyceum demonstration, with Sir Alan donning headphones and participating in a hands-on session. The customised tutorial included staff from the Department of Languages connected remotely to Lyceum and talking Sir Alan through the extensive features of Lyceum, one of KMi's original flagship concept prototypes successfully re-implemented by OU Learning and Teaching Solutions and now in use regularly by thousands of OU language students.