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The Current Situation
The Issues

The Strategic Context


Case Studies

Towards A Strategy For Central Teaching Space

4 The Strategic Context

There is strong commitment at all levels at Leeds to maintain a strategic framework for central teaching space development. `Fire-fighting' solutions to teaching space problems are best avoided; although it is recognized that they are sometimes unavoidable in view of uncertain planning assumptions at national level.
It is widely recognized at Leeds that the strategic view of teaching space in the university needs to be maintained in order to ensure that provision is always fit for purpose. The strategy needs inter alia, to recognise constantly changing user requirements and to support arguments for planning and resourcing the means of meeting them. The `needs' of classes and the demands of the timetable derive from academic pressures to maintain a range of degree programmes and to provide teaching in many modes, with effective freedom for the teacher to choose the modes he or she prefers. This often creates pressure for more, or for larger, or for better equipped classrooms (which puts demands on the timetable). The university needs a constant sense of the `space' problems these competing pressures create. The academic bodies that approve new programmes or encourage new teaching methods need increasingly to be to be aware of the logistical constraints implicit in providing for such activity in a fixed stock of classrooms with a finite budget for their operation and maintenance. The planning and provision of non-teaching accommodation including that for the services which support teaching, also requires careful consideration by its inclusion into discussions which take an holistic view of the processes and requirements associated with the delivery of learning to our students.
It is plain that for the foreseeable future there will be a need for `traditional' teaching space and a range of appropriate support services. There is no sign in the short term, of a fundamental change in the undergraduate learning experience in this respect. The predicted shift to more `individual' learning techniques, which employ a wide range of learning methods including IT and screen-based delivery of learning materials, is slower in coming than perhaps we might imagine. Leeds is positioning itself for these developments - it opened recently, for example, the Nathan Boddington Building, a `virtual' learning centre capable of delivering a wide range of the curriculum to networked learners. Whilst we are investing heavily in the development of forward looking IT-assisted and network-based learning projects such as this, we expect at Leeds to continue to provide high quality teaching environments for groups of students for some time yet.

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