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An integrated approach to technology within Lecture Room Services
5 Lessons learnt
This report has examined as a case study the process of refurbishing a Lecture Theatre at Heriot-Watt University. A survey was carried out of the users of the new facility and this produced a set of recommendations that are repeated below:
The specific recommendations identified by the survey covered both needs for improving LT2 and also how lecture theatres need to be managed and dealt with as a whole. Some of these changes were implemented immediately (adjusting the set-up and responsibility for the computer, making available new guides to facilities, and rerunning training) but others imply changes in approach.
A new consultation process has been started to involve users in determining the way forward with other refurbishments. A clear problem revealed in this consultation is how best to deal with support for chalk-boards along with the new technology. These appear incompatible in the same room both because of dust from the chalk and the space occupied by the boards. In part this seems to be an issue of encouraging some users to try other methods and seeing that the same, or greater, detail can be presented on new surfaces as was available on the older rolling chalkboards. An alternative is to designate rooms to best support the different styles of teaching. This is only viable if additional information is used in the timetabling and room planning.
The need for staff development, training and supporting documentation was also revealed through the survey. This is particularly important to get the best use out of facilities - the main use of lecture theatres remains conventional presentation while the technology allows for the inclusion of demonstrations and simulations and integration with a more resource based approach. Some of this training is available in Scotland through TALiSMAN, particularly for video-conferencing but also for other approaches building on the availability of high speed networks. Training still needs to be tailored to the local environment and integrated with the provision of technical support and integration. A balance is needed between ensuring everyone can cope with the technology provided while avoiding asking lecturers to invest too much time acquiring unwanted technical skills.
A specific action taken by the University has been the formation of a group involving the Learning Technology Centre, Administration, Estates and academic representatives to look at the way forward. This includes a more detailed specification process (illustrated in next section), afresh look at timetabling, more consultation, and specification of responsibility over both the technology and basic facilities of the rooms.
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