Interview with the Business Manager / IT Director.
The Business Manager (BM) was involved from the beginning of the project, emphasising that the visits to the universities particularly, developed her thinking on the importance of the design of the learning spaces. The Hub at the Uni of Adelaide was particularly influential, as it provided the flexible spaces they were looking for, but also a huge variety of types of spaces, made from mostly industrial and cheaper materials. She was concerned that the open space concept, such as what they saw at Microsoft, could be a fad and not translatable into the school setting, but it did get her thinking. Standing desks, environmentally sustainable finishes, wireless access, hot desks, plus discussion about what our closed off personal space is doing to the ability to collaborate i.e people with headphones or ear buds, constantly connected to their device but not necessarily each other. Open space or closed, the emotional and social dynamic is the challenge. As suggested by Sellers and Souter (2012) changing the space invites users to see the world differently. The BM also recognised the need to drop bans on certain aspects of technology such as Facebook, but she suggested we must be ready for the fallout from teachers and parents. The BM’s investigation into the design features and technological aspects of the build resulted in a steep learning curve for her. She was particularly interested in the student response to the innovations and after a year, doesn’t see the use yet of the innovative technology built in, so the ICT infrastructure supports the learning and is seamless.
The Facilities Manager (FM)
Discussions on what was necessary from an infrastructure viewpoint included whether or not to install SmartBoards. They were in the original planning (they nearly slipped through, said the FM) but when interactive screens became more prominent in 2011, these were used instead. They are at the front of each classroom with write-on boards on the back wall. Wireless capacity allows for each student to connect to three devices and sound loops were included all over the building, as they had had advice that many people would have hearing problems in the future (!) Students were heavily involved with the selections of the furnishings, the staff not so much. Originally teachers desks were front and centre in each classroom, but then were moved to the side of the room. The tables in the classrooms are large, seating about 8-10 people.
All glass walls at the front of the building were a challenge and had to be double-glazed, the lights and air-conditioning are all automatic. The toilets are outside the building next to the student lockers. There is a 220 seat lecture theatre with 9 screens. The FM also commented on the fact that despite the capacity to connect any computer remotely to this screen, this is not happening. But the capacity is there, she adds.
- Sellers, W., & Souter, K. (2012). Changing approaches to educational environments: Valuing the margins, interstices and liminalities of learning spaces. In M. Keppell, K. Souter, & M. Riddle (Eds.) Physical and learning spaces in higher education: Concepts for the modern learning environment (pp. 21-32). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-114-0.ch002 http://www.igi-global.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/gateway/chapter/56040