Redesigning Non-formal Learning Spaces

Brian Murphy, Manager of Installations and Spaces

Traditional Spaces (starting in 1984):
○ 18 clusters of individual workstations (450 machines).
○ Relatively non-social atmosphere.
○ Tried to get as many workstation in to the available space as possible.
○ Benefits – centrally managed, easy to support and manage; 1:200 ratio of technicians to machines.
○ Drawbacks – little collaboration; usage stats suggested declining perceved value and use; uncomfortable and unattractive
○ Now 70% of incoming freshman have their own laptop.
○ Seating area in Student Centre heavily used for collaboration and academic study (unintentional), as well as general social space (intentional).

Deciding What to do:
○ Student Surveys; Focus groups of laptop users; observations; usage stats.
○ Nice new furniture installed… people started using them for study and laptop use.
○ Day long conference to decide what to do with the space including architects, students, faculty and staff.

Design Principles:
○ Space cycles prevail over machine cycles
○ Spaces vary from hard to soft – emphasize soft space (cumfy furniture).
○ Spaces should be “zoned” for sound / activity – quiet/noisy, high/low turnover.
○ Movable over fixed in the furniture department.
○ Design for 24 hour day accessibility.
○ Design for people not for the technology (natural light, operable windows).

New Spaces
○ 4 spaces redesigned introducing new technology for collaboration and group work. Not new space, just redesigned.
○ Coexisting with traditional spaces.
○ Space encouraged group work (as the students asked for).
○ Turing curriculum trends with study spaces that support pedagogy (project-based, active learning, case studies).
○ Redesigned using partitions, desktop computer, large displays, projects, sofas.
○ Whiteboards with digital projector (ltx to capture markups).

How we hope they’ll be used:
○ Group projects.
○ Collaboration.
○ Distance collaboration
○ Nicer environments to study.

What We’ve seen:
○ Average Group Size = 3.5
○ Average duration of Use = 1.2 hours
○ Approx 15 minutes of work before using equipment.
○ Size of groups expands and contracts
○ 230 images saved to Copy Cam
○ LTX is not full utilized.

Issues Effecting Adoption
○ Effective Communication
○ Organizationally – need to get people to embrace change.
○ Increased support and costs (7 spaces per tech).
○ Also used as individual Study space.