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Technology for Learning Spaces
High Performance Collaboration

Technology for Active Learning Spaces

Too often technology integrated into active learning spaces can be too advanced for the majority of learning scenarios it needs to support.   Too advanced usually means too complicated for all but the technology confident ‘power users’ to feel comfortable with, which alienates the average academic from using the technology for fear of looking incapable in front of their students.  The reality is that expensive technology has been unnecessarily purchased and only being effectively used to enable better learning outcomes in a small number of instances.  It would have been far better to have invested less in technology that the majority of academics could use effectively, with the ‘power users’ discovering other ways to satisfy their learning scenarios. A common mistake is to start with the idea of trying to stretch the technology spend to the maximum that the budget will allow.  Once the technology has been installed, the academics are constrained - or more likely confused - by it.   And too many times technologists can only explain how the technology functions, unable to motivate the academic with examples of how student learning can be improved through the capabilities of the new facilities. Audio Visual and IT Technology are of course vital to enabling the opportunities for better learning outcomes, and those responsible should be engaged early in the process of equipping new active learning spaces.  But the emphasis should always be on the learning and teaching, and then selecting technology that enables the most effect way of achieving this.   There is a history of flagship spaces being created with technology to create a ‘wow’ factor rather than a truly effective teaching space.  A further problem is that such flagship spaces are too expensive to replicate, which means that they come to be resented by both students and staff who do not get access to them. More thought also needs to be given to clearly communicating the current ‘status’ of the session.  Does the academic want students to be listening to them or working in their groups?  How does a group of students gain the attention of the academic when help is required?