Today was another day of contrast and contradictions. It has been interesting to see so many different spaces today. The Sports Science spaces at Victoria were, for me, reminiscent of the spaces we saw in the Engineering Precinct in QUT – flexible space, movable furniture and equipment. This suggests that no matter how specialist the discipline, the space can be made to be flexible. But, just because it can, does this mean it should? Certainly some of the thinking behind the spaces at Melbourne that led to decisions to fix furniture and equipment have sound reasoning. Ensuring quality and longevity of the furniture, providing consistency of layout for incoming staff and students whose expectations may not be met if the furniture were moved out of the space. This makes sense of course and for many of us in our Universities, this is what we have done for all the right reasons. However, for me the lure of the flexible space remains exciting. Ultimately though I will need to discuss the options with my colleagues at UWS and in particular understand the intended pedagogy for spaces that we will be developing.
Technology is still often seen as an enhancement and, I feel, this misses opportunities. Technology can present new ways of teaching and learning and it would be remiss to not consider how technology can facilitate pedagogies in the same way that furniture and spaces can. Yes, too much of it can be overwhelming and detracting but at the same time, technology can liberate teaching if it is used in a way that empowers teachers to do things more creatively.
Different Universities have different drivers which may require different spaces. Historical buildings present constraints that new, modern buildings do not. In some cases, Universities do want to control what the student does and where they sit – a balance needs to be struck between this and total flexibility.
Again, we saw some similar themes at Victoria and Melbourne that we saw earlier in the week:-
· Pedagogy and intended outcomes should drive design (of space and technology)
· Consistency of interface continues to be important. David Cummings said that Learning Spaces should not require an ‘operator manual’ they should be intuitive.
· Poor engagement of users in design generally leads to dissatisfaction with the space.
· Technology should not overwhelm the space
· Keep it simple
· Glass ‘Whiteboards’ are a common trend across all the spaces and they appeared in new spaces at Melbourne and Victoria
· There is a need for spaces to be scalable and financially sustainable