As part of the ongoing Learning Spaces Project, the LDC has been working together with School of Health Sciences (SHS), Properties and Facilities, Timetabling, and Information Services to put together a new computer lab space in College Building. This new space will be a departure from labs as we know it: half of the room will feature moveable node chairs and laptop loans, while the other half will feature group computer tables with flip-top computers. Both of these spaces are being designed to give priority to group learning; SHS is putting in place a problem based learning curriculum, and students will be expected to work on computers in small groups to tackle the scenario given to them during class time.
Although designed at the request of SHS, the two rooms in AG24 aren’t just for SHS to use and will meet the needs of a broad range of lecturers and courses. A survey the LDC conducted into computer lab usage at Northampton Square showed that 44% of lectures in computer labs already contain some element of group work, and that staff have found the arrangement of large desks and close rows makes it difficult for students to cluster together, and for staff to move freely between groups to talk to or help support students. By creating new lab spaces that are geared toward making group work easier, we hope to create spaces that are not only adapt to the lecturing (rather than forcing the lecturing to adapt to the space), but also create a more positive learning experience for students and lecturers in allowing them to talk to one another without restrictions.
AG24 A&B are set to be ready for the start of the 2012-2013 academic year. Though only two rooms at the moment, they represent a change of approach to how we build, evaluate, and think of our taught environments. So what happens next? Watch this space.