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Defining and Implementing Standards for Lecture Room Services
5.1 The determination of standards in relation to the local project at Brunel University is proving to be an extremely useful exercise. The main benefits at a local level have been:
(i) an improvement in the level of knowledge on the fundamental principles of AV presentation;
(ii) the opportunity to review service delivery by more objective means;
(iii) the facility to adopt a systematic approach to analysing the quality of existing facilities and services;
(iv) the means of identifying major issues that are relevant to planning the future delivery of lecture room services;
(v) the collection of evidence to support arguments for resource allocation in identifiable areas;
(vi) the summary of a range of relevant technical and service standards within a single document.
5.2 The time scale of the Case Study effectively provides a snapshot of ongoing activity that may itself be used as a benchmark to examine progress at future intervals. Inevitably, there are certain issues where it has only been possible to scratch the surface.
5.3 The initial research into suitable standards, while arguably limited in depth, has nevertheless yielded a useful range of quantitative standards, operational guidelines, etc., that have enabled an extensive range of issues to be examined. There has been a subconscious process of excluding matters that were not thought to have a wider relevance, or were perhaps too complicated for general application. It is hoped that this Case Study is perceived to have fulfilled its declared aim and that the standards suggested indeed form the basis for a more extensive examination at national level within HEIs. It is therefore proposed that these standards are examined in a number of sample institutions for the purposes of determining their appropriateness and to consider any additional standards thought to have been omitted.
5.4 A primary concern is that of physical space. It is evident that while improvements can be implemented with relative ease to equipment installations and networking infrastructure, more fundamental aspects, such as physical proportions of rooms, accessibility, etc., are extremely difficult to change. Brunel University has a range of lecture rooms that includes adaptations of buildings on historical sites to modern purpose-built lecture theatres. A large number of HEIs probably have similar kinds of provision. While compromises must inevitably be made with existing rooms it is vital that new building projects, including adaptations, fully adopt appropriate standards relating to the physical space, seating layout, acoustics, etc., as a prerequisite to equipping lecture rooms for AV and multimedia.
5.5 It is significant that the standards relating to facilities have tended to be physical rather than technical. This is primarily due to the fact that acceptable technical standards, i.e. those pertaining to product performance and interconnectivity, are constantly changing. This may be to such an extent that several changes can be expected within the timescale likely to be achieved by any national standards review process. To this extent, technical standards will inevitably be culturally driven by manufacturers, suppliers, and local service operators. It is therefore vital that a high level of ongoing cultural exchange exists between service deliverers by means of national interest groups, mailbase groups, purchasing consortia, etc.. Furthermore, such exchange should focus on the specialist needs of HEIs and national organisations need to be proactive in alerting manufacturers to expectations in relation to product development.
5.6 The most important standard in relation to supporting lecture room services is the 100% delivery standard. This is the prerequisite benchmark both for strategic and operational planning in relation to the delivery of lecture room services and must be supported by a highly effective organisational structure and highly efficient resource management. By necessity this must be implemented at institutional level rather than by individual service departments. However, service departments can be proactive in ensuring that their specialist knowledge is fully incorporated into the strategic management processes of the institution.
5.7 Furthermore, certain models of service delivery are believed to create oppositional attitudes between academic and service departments. It is vital that a suitable model is implemented that encourages more collaborative approaches to providing multimedia in lecture rooms to the ultimate benefit of the student.
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