Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Utilisation of Space Across Campus through the Use of ICT Workshop.

Last week’s Utilisation of Space Across Campus was one of the most interesting and popular SUSTE-TECH workshops. The event was attended by over 50 delegates from various estates, ICT and e-learning departments whose roles within the FHE sector requires knowledge of all that is pedagogic, technical and sustainable. Overall feedback from the workshop was very positive, scoring 8.6 on the overall delegate evaluation grading scale with delegates requesting additional information on each of the topics covered and notification of similar future workshops.
The usual mix of ICT, energy and sustainable managers were in attendance, but this workshop attracted the attention of architects, space planners, heads of e learning departments and engineers. This mix of professionals is indicative of the ever expanding skills-set that’s required to ensure the efficient operation of an FHE estate in 2011 and into the future.
After delegates were briefed on the SUSTE-TECH project and JISC’s other estates led projects, Toni Kelly and Matt Sherlock from the University of Birmingham’s Learning Space Division, presented on how by integrating timetabling and space management across campus they anticipate a reduction in the number of over-bookings thus saving time and money for their institution.
For more information on the University of Birmingham check out the presentations on: http://www.slideshare.net/Suste-Tech/2matt-sherlock-2
Graeme Horner from FG Technology presented on the benefits of using their remote control device for PC’s.  These devices can be placed in (or under) a desk or work surface where they duplicate the key controls of the PC. This allows the main computer to be stored elsewhere (up to 20m away). Because PC’s are concealed, they reduce clutter, improve the asthetic appearance and free up classroom space. It also means that computers are is less likely to be stolen or vandalised. FG’s remote control devices are silent so noise is reduced and as PC’s are stored elsewhere, they not add to classroom heat. This keeps the running costs of classrooms and lab spaces to a minimum.
For more information check out Graeme’s slides on : http://www.slideshare.net/Suste-Tech/4graeme-horne-fg-technology-eauc-powerpoint
John Pryzbilla from Mosaic Space presented part one of Optimising the Sustainable Performance of Classroom Space. John’s presentation included a formulae for calculating the utilisation of classroom space; Room Frequency x Seat Occupancy = Utilisation. This formula should prove useful for timetabling staff and space planners when trying to maximise the use of lecture halls, labs and classrooms at the beginning of each academic semester. While many delegates may already be aware that “the greenest building is the one that has not yet been built”, John also informed delegates that “every pound (£) wasted on empty space means that less money is available for research, teaching and learning. Poorly used space makes everyone work harder to pay for it”.
John slides are available on; (coming soon)
 Finally, Cathy Stewart and Mel Starrs, both from PRP Architects, presented on part two of Optimising the Sustainable Performance of Classroom Space. Cathy covered the importance of providing learning spaces that have adequate fresh air and oxygen, have comfortable surroundings and provide sufficient visual stimulation with minimal distraction. It is hoped that by providing these pedagogic conditions, students will be able to learn more efficiently and retain as much information as possible. In the traditional learning method of lecturing, where students sit quietly and try to absorb and retain (and hopefully understand) what being covered, only 5% of what’s being taught is retained by students. However when “learning by doing”, in the case of practical experiments and work experience, 75% of what’s being taught is retained. The difficulty however is balancing pedagogy with limited space while still factoring in the three learning environments; “teacher centred” (classroom), “student centred” (open labs and studying space) and the “third space” (informal common areas such as the outdoors, cafeteria, etc). PRP Architects also covered the importance of building staff and student’s confidence in the use of technology as well as the need for on-going training to keep pace with advancements in  the latest technology. They also covered the topic of understanding all that technology had to offer to enhance the pedagogic experience, save time and lessen the impact on the environment.  Their presentation is available on http://www.slideshare.net/Suste-Tech/6-cathy-stewart-prp
Unfortunately, Paul Ritchie from Leeds Metropolitan was unable to present so delegates missed out on hearing about how their JISC funded Light and Heat by Timetabling project was progressing. The SUSTE-TECH project may run another workshop on the topic of timetabling and space planning at some point (most likely in 2012). Delegates attend event may have the opportunity to hear Paul Ritchie and Sue Holms present then. http://www.slideshare.net/Suste-Tech/3paul-ritchie-heat-light-by-timetable-effective-measures
Slides from each of the presentations are also available on the EAUC’s SUSTE-TECH workshop webpage ; http://www.eauc.org.uk/workshops

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Space Planning Recommened Reading

Just some recommened reading for anyone interested in the subject of Campus Space Planning and related topics.
 First Questions for Designing Higher Education Learning Spaces by  
Scott Bennett

Discovering the campus together: A mobile and computer-based learning experience
by Mar Pérez-Sanagustín et al

Architecture design studio culture and learning spaces: a holistic approach to the design and planning of learning facilities by N.A.G. Abdullah et al. 
Each are available on Science Direct.

Utilisation of Space in FHE Institutions.

There are 46 delegates registered to attend next Wednesdays Utilisation of Space Across Campus through the Use of ICT workshop. This is the largest number of delegates that have registered to attend any of the SUSTE-TECH workshops. Numbers are especially high considering the event is being held during the last week of August when typically ICT and Estate managers are on annual leave. Without a doubt this is because of the topic being covered.
Space planning has in recent years become an increasingly important aspect of FHE estate management. This is mainly due to increases in real estate prices as well as the on-going cost of running large estates. University and colleges have been burdened with the task of having to source supplementary funding themselves since the 2010 cuts to the sector. In fact since the cuts, estates managers have been attempting to make maximum use of their assets by renting out classrooms to businesses for events such as conferences, workshops, tradeshows, parties and weddings etc.  In order to do this however, campuses must not only be fit for purpose but also “look the part”. Since the recent hike in tuition fees, students are also expecting an improved overall pedagogic experience with emphasis on their learning environment.
In more modern or newly refurbished institutions, old fashioned cork notice boards and brightly coloured walls have been phased out. Instead classrooms and lecture theatres have become digitised and streamlined. PC’s are reduced to simply a keyboard and monitor, both smaller and lighter than before, and wires, cables and leads have almost vanished thanks to wireless connections. Space planning is no longer simply about the allocation of seats per classroom and adequate light and heat. There are legal requirements also to consider along with the cognitive, psychological, administrative and ICT requirements as well as staff and student welfare.
It is hoped that delegates will leave Wednesday’s workshops with a greater understanding of how to make the most of their institutions available space and how to incorporate the latest in ICT to help improve student’s learning experience and of course how to do it all as sustainably as possible.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Procurement Staff Survey

 I recently circulated an e mail to all FHE procurement staff inviting them to participate in a survey that I’d created on behalf of the Sustainable Procurement's Centre for Excellence (SPCE's) Green ICT advisory committee. The aim of this survey was to obtain direct feedback from FHE procurement staff regarding the purchasing of sustainable ICT equipment. Results from a previous ICT manager survey, carried out in November 2010 (and again in April 2011) indicated that there was a gap between what ICT managers knew about sustainability and what was being asked of them in their roles at FHE institutions (see blog from April 2011).

It is hoped that this survey will do the same for procurement managers and will also highlight procurement staff's interest in environmental issues while at the same time provide participants the opportunity to inform the committee of Green ICT procurement issues that otherwise may be overlooked. Of course I always like to offer a “carrot” at the end of every “stick” so automatically entered each participant of the survey into a draw to win a £100 gift certificate from an online retailer of their choice. With 25 procurement managers already having completed the survey, I think the “carrot” did the trick.
The survey remains open to all procurement managers until Friday 2nd of September, after which point the results will be collected and analysed and presented at the 2011 COUPE conference.

If you are a procurement manager and work in a FHE institution simply click on the following link to complete the survey;  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8FRDSXV

It is hoped that the results of this survey will  provide useful information and data that will lead to an overall improvement in the efficiency of  FHE's green ICT procurement processes.