Sunday, 4 November 2012

Can't please all the people all the time..or can you?

In 2011 I designed 4 lecture spaces (not lecture theatres) using plectrum shaped tables, not my design ( it's a bit like a triangle with rounded corners and many are using this shape). Where my design differs from others is that the tables split and tilt and are on casters allowing for the reconfiguration of the room to suit the needs and teaching style of the lecturer. I received very good feedback. 'At last' some said,' a room that I can break my class into groups so they can collaborate and where I can work the room' (that's my phrase not theirs they don't consider themselves as comedians or magicians).

However I also received feedback saying 'I can't teach in these. I need traditional front facing rows for my style of delivery'. At first I was annoyed at this as the design of the table means the students only have to angle themselves slightly to face the front, but after some thought I agreed that this type of table does not give the detractors what they want. So what is the answer.
My first response is not to place these lecturers in these rooms. This applies to technology also i.e. a lecturer teaching in a room with the wrong technology for him or her.
If they are not to be timetabled into inappropriate rooms the timetabling has to be more granular and ask the questions;
How many students?
What type of layout is required?
What technology is required?
The timetabling software should then be able to match the needs to the availability.

Another way is to design the furniture so that it does both i.e. allows front facing rows and collaborative group work.
I have started work on this and have used adapted a method I have seen elsewhere where one row can turn and face the row behind. To do this I will use two different depths of table and the pods will consist of 6, two rows of 3. There will be 3 different heights of desk so I can provide a raked effect using the furniture instead of the construction of the room.
I will get some pictures of the prototype soon.

So perhaps it is possible to please all of the people all of the time, or am I just kidding myself?


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