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Audio Visual Centres in the 21st century
7 An ISO Standard for Lecture Rooms.
7.1 Lecture theatres even within institutions are often dissimilar and should be a matter of concern. It disrupts a teacher's thought processes if they are confronted by overwhelming or variable technology. This is exacerbated when a lecturer visits another college and is confronted by yet further variations in its presentation systems. As technology becomes increasingly more sophisticated it is essential that these anomalies are removed.
7.2 Institutions should aim to standardise their teaching environment and develop a rolling programme of upgrades that would conform to a statutory UK minimum standard.
7.3 The CVCP should consider establishing minimum standards that are embodied in the TQA for every institution. If a standard was established, not only would it help teaching standards improve but significant savings could be made via the purchasing consortia throughout the UK which would benefit every institution.
7.4 TQAs assess the teaching standards of the institution but what is being done in real term to address the quality of the teaching environment. Great play is made about the need to use new technology to support teaching but no mechanism exists that helps us to implement change or guide us in any particular direction.
7.5 Video conferencing will become more important as will interactive lectures and multimedia presentations, but unless there is commonality between institutions, new technologies will be stifled and remain on the wish list. Lecturers should be able to travel between institutions and expect to find video/data projectors etc., that will function as readily as the present slide projectors. But how many institutions have sufficient VDPs to support more than a handful of lectures using this technology? Before long we will be into a runaway situation that cannot cope with the demand.
7.6 To redress the balance we must have a standard to work towards.
7.7 To this end, I propose that UK universities formulate a blueprint that will define the specific requirements of lecture space and devise a mechanism that ensures compliance by each institution.
7.8 Within the specification a grading scheme should also be included which could be awarded during a TQA. This could take the form of a star rating or some other recognisable symbol of excellence. Specifications may have to be updated regularly to take account of advancing technology.
7.9 The specification must identify the minimum requirements for a given size.
7.10 Equipment requirements can be specified in broad terms. Recommendations for video data projectors must specify a minimum refresh rate.
7.11 Guidance notes must be provided, along with a specimen layout design schematic for typical types/sizes of theatre/classroom. Screen size/projection distance tables and other useful data could also be included.
7.12 In other words a hand book giving all the basic parameters that have to be considered and included in any design concept.
7.13 Reference must be included regarding purchasing consortia criteria and lists of approved suppliers. Perhaps it would be appropriate for AGOCG and CVCP/ London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC) to have a joint initiative which would establish such a standard. Universities that subscribe to the LUPC purchasing consortia need to be consulted and their views considered.
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