To Dublin and back

Jen Harvey

The week before last I gave two talks – one in Dublin for the Dublin Institute of Technology at their 8th annual showcase of learning and teaching innovations and one at Kingston University. Here’s a link to the DIT showcase, cialis but be warned it appears to be down at the moment. One thing that struck me was that despite the fact that these are very different institutions – different student populations, viagra 60mg different subject specialisms and different locations (one based in the city centre and one in the leafy suburbs) – they are both engaged in trying to develop new and creative physical spaces, which can augment traditional teaching spaces and allow students the flexibility to work in a variety of different informal ways. In Dublin they are repurposing existing spaces around the campus and thinking about how they can be used more creatively - by introducing sofas to encourage more social spaces and a variety of different sit down or stand up locations where students can work on their laptops. 

Kevin DIT

In contrast, Kingston have built in creative space into the ground floor of a new building they have recently opened. Increasingly institutions are recognising the importance of mixing real with virtual, formal with informal and institutionally focussed with student controlled. JISC’s ‘Designing spaces for effective learning’  provides a useful summary of the different ways institutions are trying to repurpose their physical spaces to better accommodate the increasing use of technologies and the move towards more varied teaching situations. A summary of the document starts with the following.

Increasing investment in estate and learning technologies, combined with the need for more cost-effective space utilisation, is making it increasingly important for senior managers to keep abreast of new thinking about the design of technology-rich learning spaces….The publication takes the reader on a ’walk through’ an educational institution, exploring the relationship between learning technologies and innovative examples of physical space design at each stage of the journey.

Of course a number of institutions have ‘showcase’ spaces, such as Glasgow Caladonian’s Saltire centre  – but what was interesting for me was that both Dublin and Kingston recognised the importance of taking a holistic approach to the environment in which students are learning. It will be interesting to see how the physical appearance and set up of our institutions start to change over the next few years – how far away from the traditional tiered lecture theatre and seminar rooms will we move? There is another reason why I found what Dublin and Kingston were doing interesting. We are moving into a new building later this year, which is open plan. One of the issues taxing us at the moment is how we should use this space – trying to mimic individual offices seems doomed to failure – but what if we viewed this more as a creative, open space – primarily for collaboration, with a range of different types of seating arrangements and informal working spaces, so that individuals are not allocated individual desks, but are free to use different parts of the space at different times…. More of a hotel lobby that an office perhaps? Sofas, hammocks and freshly brewed coffee come to mind….. So we’ll keep you posted on this one!

One Response to “To Dublin and back”

  1. AJ Cann Says:

    I’m waiting for a University to take the Google approach to staff (and possibly student) recruitment - refrigerators everywhere overflowing with food! ;-)

    BTW Grainne, the images haven’t been showing up in your RSS feed in the last couple of posts.

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