Durham designs new learning spaces
As the University’s five-year IT Vision & Strategy, written in 2007, reaches its conclusion, it is now time to look towards the future and consider what next steps should be taken to deliver “world class” IT provisions. Professor Burd, from the Department of Education, explains how Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) will improve the student experience, and how students can get involved with the developmental process.
When talking of TEL, Prof Burd is quick to distinguish it from e-learning, where all learning activities are technology-based. The emphasis is that learning should be supported by technology, not dependent on it. In fact, Liz stresses that in the wrong environment, technology can actually inhibit learning.
For her, TEL is about creating flexible work environments so that students can use technology as much or as little as they like to support their learning. The library already boasts some of these learning spaces, such as comfortable seating areas for those who prefer a more relaxed work space and large desk areas more suitable for group work.
Students from last year will remember the library’s crammed computer room, now a thing of the past. Set to reopen soon, the room is now spacious and specifically designed so that students can use books and notes alongside their computer screens. “Not everyone wants to read off of a screen” says Prof Burd.
The professor says that giving students a space they can be proud of is key when creating these work areas. So how can we get involved in the creation of these new spaces?
In the upcoming weeks, there will be a survey held in the library, asking students which type of work spaces they find the most productive for learning. The results of the survey will have an impact on what shape the design of level 3 of the library will take.
Yet these new desk areas and learning spaces are of little use if CIS, formerly ITS, is not up and running efficiently. On whether CIS have achieved the goals they set out in 2007, Liz notes that it is difficult to answer such a question because technology is constantly progressing.
She was most concerned that ITS met their goal of installing wireless facilities in more locations across the University, something which she says has been achieved. This will support the learning environments that she is working alongside others to create.
With regards to future IT provision, Liz wants to open the debate to students as to what extent we expect the University to embrace the latest technology.
So where does Durham stand in comparison with the other universities in terms of providing innovative learning spaces? Liz stresses that whilst larger universities may have buildings which appear more impressive due to their size, Durham does in fact stand out as being recognised as one of the most adventurous in terms of these spaces.
If you are still unsure as to how TEL can enhance the student experience or if you want to engage more directly in the process, Professor Burd will be giving a talk entitled “Meeting the educational needs of the next generation” on Nov 10th, at 7.30pm in Fonteyn Ballroom, Dunelm House. All are welcome.