new teaching spaces in 4 west

Well the 4 West building is completed … http://www.bath.ac.uk/estates/projects/4w.shtml

Within this are a number of general teaching area rooms. I’ve just popped in for a quick look. First impressions … I think this is the way forward for more flexible learning spaces within an HE institution. A few subtle differences which invite you to change the way you teach and the way your students learn. As opposed to big, flash, expensive spaces where people simply continue in the normal teaching model becuase they are unsure how to utilise the new facilities. I’ve argued elsewhere we need to focus on staff development around teaching face to face groups around using low threshold, simple and standardised technologies if we what to change how people teach (i.e., shift the emphasis towards more active learning).

So, what do I like about the rooms?

1. we are using the same av (multimedia) set up – so we continue to standardise around technologies in all GTA spaces. This is important as it will allow us to tailor our staff development programmes, and AV kit always seems the most stressful for lectures. Including dual projection where appropriate

2. lots more available power points along the walls (plus wifi)

3. on each wall is a whiteboard and a moveable flip chart / presentation space. These are so low tech, however, they just invite me (the lecturer) to include group work into my session. I want to develop tasks which get the students up, interacting, writing and presenting.

4. to support point 3, the seating is chairs, not benching. So, there are few obstacles to getting people to cluster and work in groups. This flexibility allows the inclusion (if and when required) of tables. So if I was running an all day intensive session based around group work I might ask for a number of tables to be included.

What would be interesting to find out

1. do staff look at the rooms and think this is an opportunity to change the way they teach … will they automatically because of the room layout and availability of low threshold technologies start introducing more group work

2. assuming staff don’t all embrace adopting different teaching methods, how will students find it having to make notes without benches or tables?

So, let the teaching begin 🙂

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