I was invited by my dear friend and mentor David Gardner for a trip to Glasgow and to spend a day at SCET in Glasgow.
Established in June 2008 and located within Glasgow’s Digital Media Quarter, the Scottish Centre for Enabling Technologies (SCET) was helping Scotland’s creative companies explore and utilize the latest technologies in the development of new/existing products, services, systems and knowledge.
Funded by the Scottish Government SEEKIT programme, Scottish Enterprise and our university partners, the centre strived to increase the sustainability and competitive advantage of creative industry companies across Scotland by building lasting links with the Scottish universities’ knowledge base.
They were proud of their impartial free support and guidance as well as the success of their highly attractive ‘Feasibility Study’ grant funding.
The expertise of the centre staff combined with that of our university partners spans a wide range of technologies, processes and business models including computer games, animation, virtual reality, interactive digital TV, video on demand, digital content publishing, archiving, search, database, business intelligence, GPS, web-based technologies, social networking, wireless/mobile technologies, 3D visualisation, 3D sound, speech recognition, haptic (touch) technology, gesture-based interaction and camera-based tracking. An extensive but not exhaustive list!
The centre had a huge state-of-the-art auditorium, and large libraries, libraries that comprised numerous books, workbooks, Computer Based Training modules (CBTs) about different subjects, and general knowledge, from many publishers. Of course, SCET would be amongst the early centres to get them from different publishers.
Classes of different schools had to book a day to bring their children in their buses accompanied by teachers. The first stop was always an acclimatisation session, to ensure that the process and facilities were understood.
The first session would be at the auditorium and instructions given by their school teachers, followed by the expert staff at SCET to help children appreciate the vast number of diverse earning resources at the SCET Opel Learning Library. The library was well equipped with cabins and each of them with a high-end-end desktop machine. While the teachers worked as a moderator and provide suggestions/recommendations on what resources could they could pick.
The children would be so excited and run around to pick new learning material, and would thoroughly review it, and also make notes. There were a lot of diverse learning material and lots of space. There were also small break-out places where teams could meet and discuss.
Post the day-long session (of course with a lunch break also included), all children would reassemble in the auditorium for Q&A sessions and student presentations. They all get mementoes and certificates after the conclusion of a supercharged learning experience. They would then get ferried back home. This was during the period when the internet had not yet penetrated all schools in Scotland.
Post broadband becoming available to all schools and children, the concept of a centralised facility became superfluous.
They moved on to set up a project called “Learning & Teaching Scotland”. They set up learning grids across Scotland (Broadband), to provide the benefit of online learning and highly effective digital learning content to their school desktops. The SCET experience was unbundled and moved to schools via broadband connections in the form of the Scottish Grid for Learning.
Subsequently, the Scottish Government has established a scheme for setting up innovation centres in each school.
Post school education, “Research & Innovation” become central to higher education, where businesses collaborate with the research groups at the colleges and universities.
The important takeaway is to get children to appreciate innovation, and research through collaborative programs between Industry and Academic sectors, and international collaborations.
Innovation had to be business-driven, solve problems of the industry, and in turn, benefit a larger section of society. A low lifestyle but high innovation. The engagement between Industry and Research will be sustainable only if the business can see a return on its Investment. This should transform the education-industry collaboration to make a bigger impact. Positive impact on economies and societal impact will be key for choosing such projects that would get funded.