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The Current Situation

The Issues
The Strategic Context

Case Studies

Towards A Strategy For Central Teaching Space

2 The Current Situation

A strategy has been developed at Leeds, which is providing the framework for the identification and pursuit of objectives leading to the achievement of our aim to provide space and services that are always fit-for-purpose. The Teaching and Learning Committee agreed that the Departmental Support Unit and University Media Services should lead a review of the management model for central teaching space, including options for the recovery of the costs of central teaching space from users.
The strategic aim is clear: to continuously improve the fitness-for-purpose of central teaching space and the services that support it. The mission is to support the aim of the university and its teachers to achieve excellence in teaching and learning. Also, the need to achieve high TQA ratings is increasing the pressure to adopt a quality-led approach to the provision of teaching accommodation and supporting services. There is a range of issues under discussion including integrated management of all services, booking systems for central space, setting and delivering appropriate standards of support services (including AV and computing) and systematic funding. In the future we anticipate more space being released by departments to the `centre'. A major objective is to recover the costs from users in order to fund the operation.
About 25% of the university's teaching space inventory is classed as `central'. Some central teaching space has, over the years, deteriorated and is in need of refurbishment and re-equipment. A two phase programme of refurbishment and re-equipment has been completed in the central lecture theatre block (c.3,000 seats), and in a range of other tiered and some flat teaching spaces (c.500 seats) located in other buildings on the campus. Audio visual presentation facilities in two more major lecture theatres (c.1, 000 seats) were replaced over the summer 1997. Plans are in hand to take a phased approach to a rolling programme of further improvements in central and departmental teaching and learning accommodation.
Before refurbishment of the central lecture theatre block (25 theatres and c.3,000 seats), every lecture theatre more or less met the minimum standard of writing surface (all blackboards), slide projector, and OHP. The facilities could be maintained easily by two technicians, with the help of a porter. After refurbishment, things have changed: many of the theatres now have sophisticated presentation equipment, including video and data projection, fixed computers and automatic control systems. This type of equipment presents new problems. Technical staff need to be more skilled and more highly trained, and more technical staff are needed. Also, teachers often need help in becoming familiar with the new systems. The improvements have also raised teacher and learner expectations generally. For example, teaching and learning styles are changing and an increasing number of users expect their teaching spaces and facilities to be adaptable and flexible - capable of supporting a wide range of learning activity from lectures to syndicates. The demand for, for example, large screen computer display has increased to the extent that it is becoming a routine requirement rivaling that for the OHP.
Central Teaching Space Services are provided by the University Media Services. Media Services is an organisation of 79 staff turning over around £3,200k annually. Media Services operates 3 divisions:

1. Printing Services

2. Television Services

3. Photography and Central Teaching Space Services

The university's videoconferencing service is based in Central Teaching Space Services (CTSS), utilizing up to 3 ISDN line pairs via a PictureTel Concord 4500 studio suite (eq. cost 95/96 £50k) and PictureTel Live 100 PC-based equipment ( eq. cost 96/97 £4k).
This year (1997/98) the university has funded a budget of £140.5k for CTSS support, provided by Media Services. The Head of Photography and Central Teaching Space Services provides direction and administrative support. An academic related CTSS manager provides line management. They are responsible to the Director of Media Services for running the services including planning and development, staff management and deployment, maintenance, budgeting and financial control etc. There are 5 staff in Central Teaching Space Services: the academic related line manager and 4 technicians. Permission has also been granted to recruit another technician on a fixed term rolling contract. Additional effort is provided by a student workforce, employed on a casual basis, to provide routine maintenance and user support.
The central administration handles the booking for all the space held centrally and has become involved increasingly in the allocation of departmental teaching space to meet the requirements of the central timetable. The need to match the needs of end-users to the spaces and facilities available, in a timely way, is a non-trivial operational issue. This is viewed as a mission critical objective.
A cross-service management team is being set up for the provision of booking, audio-visual, computing and other support services to central teaching space. Arrangements are in hand for sounding user views on accommodation and services by means of user panels, focus groups etc. Matters of policy and finance are being dealt with jointly by the Teaching and Learning Committee and the committee of Senate with responsibility for information strategy, systems and services (CISSS).
Finally, there are provisional amounts for teaching space development and refurbishment identified in the university's Corporate Plan for the period to 1999 totaling £600k.

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