At the BETT Show 2014, there was a session called “Creating Flexible Learning Spaces for the Future Student”. I went along hoping to get some tips and ideas for one of my libraries which will soon undergo redevelopment. The emphasis was upon HE libraries but they obviously have a relevance further education and even more so if we are expected to support more HE courses in the near future.
The first part of the session was delivered by Dr. Graham Walton of Loughborough University who surveyed students at his own university as well as York University. They asked learners some simple questions such as:
What technologies do you bring into the Library?
Conclusions from the survey were:
- Tablets seem to be the preserve of staff rather than learners in universities.
- Learners prefer laptops because of the Microsoft Office applications.
- Security and weight are important obstacles for students wanting to bring in laptops to University.
- Learners prefer to use their smartphones for social media and fixed PCs for work. This balance is expected to change over the next few years as students learn to use their smartphones for educational purposes.
- The demand and need for fixed PCs shows no signs of slowing.
- Learning space has to be totally integrated with teaching and learning strategies.
- Create open spaces don’t create rooms. The flexible approach can be managed with portable screens etc.
- Good redevelopments don’t stop when the redevelopment finishes. Learning spaces should constantly evolve to meet students’ changing needs and demands.
- Wireless spaces MUST also be with power. Wherever you place wireless (libraries, common rooms, canteens etc.) you must make sure that power points are also numerous and readily available.
- Network connections without fixed PCs are dead. There was a fall in use of this service by about 77%.
- Laptops are still important to learners because they offer a full range of functions not available from mobile devices.
- Students still demand fixed PCs even if the “battery hen” approach to fixed PCs is not always desirable.