Thursday, 10 March 2011

Visit to Flinders University

I arrived in Adelaide Wednesday evening and was met by Kevin Knox, Manager of Digital Media Services at Flinders University Adelaide.
I first met Kevin when he was in the UK on study leave and he presented at the SCHOMS conference held at Aberystwyth in 2009.
This morning Kevin explained what his team does, I was very interested in their in house developed lecture capture system and hope that Kevin will say more on that.
We then went on a campus walk about and visited several spaces but some were in use so unable to wander around them.
Later on I was taken to some other new areas by Scott and Warren who work in the DMS team. The ubiquitious problem of  late or lack of consultation on the design of spaces is present at Flinders although they have seen recent improvements on this front.
Some pictures.
This picture will resonate with many who are adopting lecture capture. This notice is present at the 45 locations that lecture capture takes place.

This picture is of windows in the side of a lecture theatre at the Education building from the outside. You will see that the blinds are down. This is because they are west facing and the sun blazes through and heats the space. It is a shame as the idea is good. It would have enabled people using the pathway outside to see any activity happening in the lecture theatre and those inside to have daylight and see passersby.
The seating can be withdrawn and is known as the multipurpose centre so an adaptable or reconfigurable space.

This shows the use of colour in the stairwell of the Health Sciences building. It lifts the feel of what I think would have been an uninteresting space looks good.

I liked this room with its great natural daylight and view of the trees. However it is also a video conferencing suite and the picture is taken as if from the video camera. This has presented problems even when the blinds are closed due to light spillage at the edges of the blinds. This scenario resulted from the media services team not being involved at the concept stage and those designing the room not understanding the effect the light would have on the VC. There are a few solutions: Better blackout or move the camera through 90 degrees.
I think it is a very nice meeting room though.

This picture  is in a 300 seat  lecture in the Health Sciences building. It is a very nice well equipped  theatre.

I particularly liked the central tablet provision which addresses the problem providing for left and right handed people. Left handers are often not catered for. I have visited four lecture theatres on my travels with a combined capacity of approx. 1000 and no provision for left hand students. This is 110 students based on 11% of people being left handed. Some studies have the figure as high as 15%

Is the writing surface doing its job here? The picture is taken from the back of the room. I couldn't read what was written on the board. As you can see there is a document camera available but writing surfaces were insisted upon. I know many places where this happens and wonder how students at the back of such a scenario manage. There are spaces at Aberystwyth that have this issue. Do others have a policy about this?

This is a picture of the lectern. I am not sure of the purpose of the purple panel on the front. However it does raise some design issues. Look at the next picture.

This is the view that students get from the first 5 rows if a vertically challenged person such as me is teaching i.e. just a head.
I refer back to the blog about gender. Women are generally shorter than men. This scenario also impacts upon a lecturer in a wheelchair.

I am visiting city centre rooms later.


  1. Hi Nige, i am following your blogs with interest, but felt i had to respond to this one. Ask our Australian collegues for a box to stand on next time! Or are you?? LOL.
    Seeing these lecterns, reminded me of my time when i visit down under a couple of years ago now, and the one thing that i noted was the size of the lecterns in some institutions.
    Regards, Stuart

  2. I gave him high heels but he wouldn't wear them unless they were red!

  3. Knoxy, I've seen Nigel in bright blue high heels, I think he may be taking the P demanding red ;-)

    On the subject of the lectern design we moved away from solid wooden lecterns to the TeamMate range about 5 years ago because of better accessibility. One of our lecturers in a wheel chair can now be seen by the students where as before he had to manouvre his chair to and from the lectern, he was well pleased as we had him test the lecterns before procuring them. About 95% of rooms have them in one style or another. Regards, Az.

  4. The point here is that we need to think about what we are installing. When we discuss these things, like provision for left handed people, allowing for the height of presenters, gender, wheelchair users etc. they all seem so obvious but there is often no consistency at the design stage even within one institution.


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