April 2, 2012 Leave a comment
The Learning Spaces Project at City University London is a central project led by the LDC with representatives working on the project from each of the Schools. By designing and implementing more modern innovative teaching spaces for small group teaching and learning the project aims to address the contradiction between classrooms that were designed in a previous century and modern teaching practice.
The project has kicked off with the redevelopment of four small group teaching spaces (the largest being for 30 students), in order to evaluate the impact that furniture, room layout and modern technology can have on teaching and learning.
We would be really interested to hear any suggestions or views that academics or students have about the new learning spaces, or any experiences that anyone has had teaching (or learning) in these rooms ( A109, A112, A216, D222) you can leave your comments at the bottom of this post, or if you don’t want to publish them please feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com.
Angela Dove the Learning Development Associate for the Learning Environment and Lecturer at Cass Business School has been teaching in one of these rooms over the last term and has outlined her experiences below:
“The learning session was a Reflective Practitioner first year elective module for UG Management students. It is normally taught in a standard classroom. The room was arranged for the previous session and the wheeled chairs and light tables were easily moved.
The lighting levels were very good, bright, but not glaring and a great contrast to the rather dingy lighting of the normal classroom. The heating level/ air quality was also good. In previous sessions in the normal classroom I have had to either open as many windows as possible, or students have sat in their coats. As students arrived they sat at different configurations of the flexible round “petal” tables. I noticed that:
- Students tended to sit with colleagues that they did not usually sit next to when in the usual class room; which is arranged in uniform rows.
- A couple of slightly late students did not have to disrupt the session by moving along rows of seated students, but quickly and quietly joined a table- based group.
The sightlines felt immediately better, it was easier to see and communicate with all the students (some sitting on higher stools towards the back). Whereas in the normal classroom, one is faced by either a wide angle of long rows of students, or the opposite, with rows of students stretching to the back of a narrow room. And the students one needs to try and engage more do in this type of space, tend to sit at the back.
This more organic space arrangement of groups made it possible to come out from behind the pod and move easily around the room and between clusters of tables. In Q and A sessions in a standard forward facing classroom the students very often have trouble seeing and sometimes hearing the student asking the question. This space arrangement and swivel chairs allowed them to interact far more with each other, and the teacher, encouraging dialogue.
Another major benefit is the increased amount of vertical space available for learning opportunities. Three walls feature large panels of glass, which can be written and drawn on, and have an additional magnetic property. Paper materials, index cards, images etc. can be displayed using magnets, and easily moved around, without fiddling with blue- tac.
It is also possible to quickly rearrange the clusters of tables and chairs actually during the session, causing minimum disruption, and no heavy lifting.
For group work and paired activities, I could more easily give support, rather than having to clamber over rows of students to get to the group on the inside, or wall end of the row.
A visualiser is a useful tool for students to present their ideas, however this space also allowed a more collaborative approach, with students presenting their ideas on paper and freely circulating around each group table, viewing the work and discussing it.” (reposted from LDC Vignettes)
If you would be interested in teaching in the new pilot spaces, or you have been allocated one of these rooms for your teaching and would like some more information on the different ways you can utilize the space for your classes please feel free to contact Angela Dove (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kate Reader (email@example.com).