Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Learning Spaces

Yesterday I was at New College Durham at a joint LSC / JISC infoNet / CEL event: Leading a New College Build.

New College Durham have completed a project which included replacing their old campus with a brand new one on the same site whilst remaining open to students, a project that caused a few challenges but which has come to an excellent conclusion.

The day included a tour of the New College campus (including the music recording studios that made my mouth water!) and the design and layout is stunning.

Not designed merely to be attractive to look at, the college took stock of how it expected learning and teaching to develop over the lifetime of the new buildings. Things are moving so fast currently, especially within the ever-developing world of new technology, that this is an almost impossible task but the design incorporated lots of innovative ideas and technologies.

Learning is much more interactive than it used to be. Whilst yesterday's students were used to lecturing staff imparting knowledge, today's students want a say in how they learn. They discuss things in groups much more and a lot of learning comes from more informal social interaction than it used to. Colleges are now incorporating lots of social spaces into their design, with comfortable seating and a mix (once seen as risky in the extreme) of refreshment outlets and IT equipment!

The staff at Durham were extremely open and honest about the challenges of their building project and the delegates of college estates and facilities directors and other senior managers were enthusiastic about what they had seen and heard.

My own organisation, JISC infoNet has a large resource for colleges and universities involved with Planning and Designing Technology-Rich Learning Spaces backed up by our core resources or infoKits on such things as Project Management, Risk Management Change Management and more.

Photograph by kind permission of New College Durham.

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