Monday, 14 March 2011

Vist to University of Queensland

Today I was hosted by Derek Powell at The University of Queensland. many thanks to Derek for being such an hospitable host and showing me around the campus.
Once again I was impressed by the quality of the spaces that have been developed.
Derek and his team design, install and programme the AV provision and they are a very good outfit.
We visited many spaces pictures of which will follow. There were a number of collaborative spaces around campus and it seemed to me  all were being used to capacity.
There were also some outside spaces in use. One had been a store for radioactive materials but was now a 'pavillion' type space. This was a relaxing space and students were studying there. A case of providing a mix of spaces to suit peoples learning styles.
We visited The Advanced Concept Teaching Space (ACTS). The space was designed to place UQ at the forefront of research into Teaching and Learning infrastructure.
I have written previously of the experimental teaching space at Melbourne. I am coming to the conclusion that all universities should have such spaces. It allows for the introduction of new elements into learning spaces. These could be technology, shape, colour, furniture design, layout etc. More importantly it presents the opportunity for the academic community to try new pedagogies and help determine what does and does not work. To do this the academic community should be involved from the concept stage.
We visited the Biological Library and Derek was surprised to find that all books had been removed and it is now a 24\7 student centre. We are unclear what has happened to the books and I hope Derek will post an answer.
I know that at Aberystwyth we are reconfiguring our library spaces to allow for more collaborative and private study spaces. Of course this often means that books are relocated. I wonder if the library of the future will be called a learning space? I can hear the intake of breathe from here. This is one area where technology is having a massive impact. There is no doubt I have seen more students on line than reading books on my travels. I know they may be on Facebook etc but on talking to students it appears that they get most of their information  electronically now. Any way I digress.

Enough words here are some pics.
This is The Collaborative Teaching and Learning Space.

You can see in this picture the large screen at the end of the table. This is displaying the mouse I have placed on the table at the near end via the document camera. You can see the AMX control to the right of the laptop.

This view shows the mouse displayed on the screens at other tables and also via the projectors.

This shows the use of red coloured light to change the mood of the room. The white panels are writing surfaces. A small, but important, mistake here was that no shelves were installed for pens and erasers.

And now in blue. There is also green and white.
I liked the use of laptops and not PCs in this room because closing the lid allowed easy collaboration across the space. The large screens at the end eliminated the need for larger individual screens. I think this is worth pursuing in a project on going at Aberystwyth.

I will be posting more about my visit to UQ
Thanks again Derek.


  1. Hi Nigel, Derek,

    This is a very impressive space and what I like about it (apart from the obvious) is the openness with lots of floor space, it is not a case of "bums on seats" which is a culture that pervades many institutions to the detriment of the student experience. The lighting is fabulous, our estates people will have heart attacks when I show them the piccies :-) Best wishes both. Az.

  2. ummmm, don't think this caught my comment!
    Apols if this ends up double, but just wanted to say how fab the info is your sharing & yes would like to know where the books are too!

  3. Rebecca, I thought this might grab your attention. Derek says he will enquire about the books.
    Today I visited Queensland University of Technolgy (QUT), a fuller blog will follow. Once again I witnessed the move away from floor space full of book shelves to one shared with more computer technolgy. Love it or hate it I think this is a growing trend The technology was in full use by students who looked very content with their lot. The changes have only just been implemented.
    It may be that libraries should be renamed information or learning centres.....

    Please send any death threats via twitter!!!

  4. Az
    You are quite correct about the space which allows circulation of the teacher and helps get the most from the room. It was very perceptive of you to see this from the pics.
    I am currently involved in some rooms where the bums on seats method is driving the design; I suppose it always to does to some extent. There are legitimate reasons for this but I think that ultimately the room design will suffer and the quality of teaching and learning will be adversely affected.

  5. Nigel, Rebecca,

    With regard to where the books have gone, I suspect into a proper storage facility. I am involved with a 2 phase project with our library and thats exactly what they are doing. For the 1st phase to clear 2 levels of the library a storage facility has been aquired on a local industrial estate and it is being fitted out with racks of movable shelving. There will also be office space for people to work should they need to visit to do research. Thousands of books will be moved during the summer to this new facility opening the 2 levels in the library which will become study areas with a mix of facilities not yet designed. That 2nd phase will happen in 2012. Look forward to seeing some photo's of library study areas Nigel.




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