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Nexus Institute of Creative Arts

Nexus Institute of Creative Arts


Nexus ICA was looking for a way to deliver courses that would allow students a greater level of interaction with the syllabus than a traditional paper-based system. The college was printing out around 180 pieces of paper per day, which was time-consuming and uneconomical. It also meant students had a lot of paper to carry from class to class. Tutors were keen to put technology in the hands of students, allowing them to learn in a more dynamic way.


The Institute purchased an iPad for each and every one of its 1st and 2nd year students, alongside device management, security solutions and comprehensive insurance from Apple solutions expert, KRCS, who also provided advice, installation, support and training. iPad is now being used throughout the Institute, giving students the opportunity to develop their creativity through the latest technology.


Courses are delivered through iTunes U, meaning access to multi-media and other necessary materials is much improved. Lectures are more dynamic with students being able to access the Internet and make notes in imaginative ways in order to improve knowledge retention. Course work is in on time and tutors find it far easier to stay in touch with students to offer their support and feedback. Plus, paper consumption and costs have reduced by “significantly more than half”.

The Vision

Coventry-based Nexus ICA is a Christian music institute offering courses in popular music and worship. For many years, course leaders were looking for a way to deliver courses in a more dynamic, interactive way. They needed a more affordable way of accessing the multi-media applications; necessary to improve the learning experience and improve results. Traditionally, students would have to print out all course materials, including sheet music, which would result in them having to carry heavy ring binders from class to class.

Head of Media Development at the Institute, Dave Ashworth, explains: “Typically, students would need lots of paper to get them through a day of lessons. Often, they’d just bring what they thought they might need for the day but this sometimes resulted in them having to go back home to collect additional materials. This wasted valuable time and could be frustrating and disrupting for the whole class.”

Nexus ICA carried out comprehensive research into available technology and products and discovered numerous institutions around the world had successfully implemented a one-to-one iPad programme, which was greatly increasing students’ quality of learning. “We couldn’t understand why no one in the UK had embraced this way of learning so we decided we’d be the first,” said Dave.

Nexus ICA chose iPad because of its portability, long battery life and “cool factor” (which has even helped in the recruitment process).

Working with KRCS

Having decided on iPad, Nexus ICA contacted Apple Solutions Expert in Education, KRCS. “We needed someone who could not only provide the iPad and cases, but could also offer local support, comprehensive insurance and speedy replacements,” said Dave. “iPad is a vital part of course delivery. Without it, a student simply can’t work, so this was an essential part of the contract. It was clear KRCS also had great educational knowledge which really helped with the initial set up. The sales representative even delivered the iPad himself and his team is always on hand for any on-going support we might need.”

Each student now receives an iPad at the beginning of their studies and it is used throughout the year to deliver all teaching material through the innovative iTunes U platform, giving students an opportunity to interact with the course in a variety of creative ways. And, as an added bonus, they get to keep it when they leave.

KRCS has also provided an iMac suite where students can practice their photo and video editing skills, learn how to produce music and animation and even create digital sets for the numerous shows and concerts performed throughout the year.

Bass guitar tutor, Matt Donald, has been excited by the change in student engagement and the creativity borne through the use of the new technology. “We use iTunes U to deliver all our course materials and their iPad is all they really need,” he said. “This gives easy and instant access to iBooks, video and audio files, web links and a variety of supporting documents. Students can learn new skills by watching videos on YouTube and even learn the basics of music production with Apple’s GarageBand. What’s important is that it’s fun! Improving the student experience is improving output and this has seen a marked improvement in results.”

Nexus ICA courses are validated by the University of West London. Such has been the success of the programme that the University recently singled out the ‘use of technology using iPad’ as a ‘note of good practice’.

“The other major benefit is the improvement in the tutor/student relationship. iPad has made it much easier for two-way communication. We can update timetables, hold online forums and discussions and students have better access to tutor support when they need it. It’s also made it much easier for us to mark work and record assessments directly through the iPad which has really cut down on admin, giving us more time to spend with our students.”, Rich Hall, Course Leader, Nexus ICA