A mock example of a future investment teaching space

Investment in new learning environments

Throughout 2021, the Service will continue to invest in digital transformation and blended learning across teaching spaces.

The aim of this exciting initiative is to ensure the University continues to invest in and improve its teaching spaces whilst supporting the objectives of Digital Transformation and delivering a positive impact upon Student Education.

£3million capital investment will be made to three further lecture theatres in the Roger Stevens Building, and will significantly transform current traditional and didactive layout, to a blended and collaborative specification.

In 2016, Estates and Facilities Services were instrumental in leading an innovative, sector leading redesign of three lecture theatre spaces. This exciting transformation saw physical space redeveloped enabling group discussion alongside the use of installed technology to allow group work, interaction, communication, and recording.

The combination of physical space changes and innovative use of digital technology was sector leading and gave the University a distinctive edge to support recruitment and student experience.

To ensure future spaces meet both staff and students’ requirements a detailed analysis of customer-based insight on traditional teaching spaces and the collaborative spaces introduced in 2016 was undertaken with partners from the Leeds Institute of Teaching Excellence. The following factors arose and formed the foundations for the 2021 improvements:

  • Current tiered lecture theatres remain highly teacher-centred, and do not allow for collaboration between students, or interaction between teachers and students. Also, the lack of technological integration in lecture theatres reduces the ability to make the best practice use of digital technology to support student learning.
  • The team, during research conducted to explore the adaptation to collaborative lecture spaces across the Higher Education sector, found collaborative teaching spaces were so popular it resulted in the model introduced at Leeds being replicated by other universities, such as Imperial College London.
  • This investment will help address the gap in facilities and teaching space provision. Failure to invest may negatively affect student participation and satisfaction with their experience at Leeds.
  • Creating more innovative spaces will enable staff to change their teaching methodologies in line with the University’s ability to transform and modernise teaching and learning approaches. Teaching will be consistent with current teaching thinking; staff demand and student demand and will directly support the University’s Digital Strategy for Student Education.
  • The introduction of multi-mode technology into collaborative rooms will negate the impact of any reduction in original seating capacity, which has previously affected the ability to provide collaborative learning over didactic learning.

Looking ahead, the team identified several positive outcomes the new spaces will bring to the student and staff community at Leeds. These include:

  • User experience will be significantly improved following the redesign of furniture to allow for group work as well as traditional teaching methods, the provision of interactive touchscreen devices within each student cluster of seats, provision of power and AV inputs for students using their own devices at their seat and microphones for capture of student audio through the lecture capture system. Furthermore, multimode technology will enable student participation both remotely and in room will be introduced alongside improved room specification including lighting, seating, and ventilation.
  • The emerging University Digital Transformation Strategy and its impact upon student education, will benefit directly from this investment into teaching space facilities. A new approach to multi-mode learning and teaching is fasting becoming the norm and will give students the option to participate online or in the room.
  • The following student-focused strategic priorities will be supported by this initiative: “Actively engage and support students in their education – in delivering an outstanding research-led education that attracts, excites and retains students from diverse backgrounds, further utilising technology-based enhancements” (Student Education Strategic Delivery Plan 2018-19).

Over the coming months the Service looks forward to collaborating further with University-wide colleagues to further enhance teaching and learning experiences.

Read about our customer focussed services, 2020 to 2021