Tag Archives: learning spaces

Spaces and Wellbeing

Group working
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Could we use space utilisation data to support wellbeing?

As students frequent and move about the campus, the spaces in which they study, learn and relax can have an impact on their wellbeing.

Student wellbeing is a key priority for the Higher Education (HE) sector. The Stepchange framework, created by Universities UK, calls on all universities to make wellbeing a strategic priority which is “foundational to all aspects of university life, for all students and all staff.”  We know, as discussed in a recent Jisc blog post, that good data governance provides the foundation to build new wellbeing support systems that can respond to the needs of students – helping more people more quickly while maximising the use of available resources.

As well as the usual suspects that universities can use to collect engagement data, such as the VLE, library systems and access to learning spaces, could universities use space utilisation data to, enhance and improve the spaces (formal and informal) on campus to deliver a better student experience and support wellbeing?

Could we use data from how spaces and when spaces are being used to deliver a better student experience and maximise student wellbeing.

Space utilisation

 Currently universities will use manual and automated methods to measure space utilisation. Often this data is used to for self-assessment reports and proposals for expansion. Few are analysing that data in real time and presenting the information to students.

We know that measuring usage of space, tables and desks can be fraught with ethical concerns. It is critical when measuring space usage that the university is transparent about what it is doing, how it is doing it and why.

group
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The importance of space

 You can imagine the scenario when a student who is facing challenges on their course, and decides to visit the campus, expecting to find space to study, but the library is busy, the study areas are noisy and even the café is closed. This disappointment can lead to annoyance. This small negative experience could potentially impact on the wellbeing of the student. They are probably not alone, as other students (and staff) are equally frustrated and disappointed. If they had known about the current (and predicted future) utilisation of that space, they may have made different plans. They could have left earlier, or arrived later.

Using data on spaces to support wellbeing

Analysing the data on space utilisation could provide a valuable insight into ensuring that when students need space to study that space is available, and can support wellbeing.

Universities could use the data to ensure that when space is unavailable, for example for cleaning, so that this is done at the best possible time, for the minimal impact on student wellbeing.

 Space isn’t the answer

Of course, when it comes to improving student wellbeing, just having data about the spaces students use is most certainly not going to be enough. Data on how students interact with online systems and services, the resources they engage with, all provide a wealth of engagement data. We know that engagement is one measure that universities can look at to understand if there is a story behind a student’s dis-engagement with the university and work to improve that student’s wellbeing.

As Jisc’s Andrew Cormack and Jim Keane said in their recent blog post on data governance,

If their new university does not use data intelligently to improve their day-to-day experience, students could be disappointed, which reflects badly on the institution.  

Universities should reflect on all the data they collect, and decide what the data can tell them about the student experience, and importantly what interventions they need to make to positively impact on student wellbeing. Running out of coffee isn’t the end of the world, but combine many small negative impacts on the student experience, students will not be happy and wellbeing could suffer as a result.

Read Jisc’s framework and code of practice for data-supported wellbeing – which outlines how to promote ethical, effective, and legally compliant processes that help HE organisations manage risk and resources.

Review time – Weeknote #193 – 11th November 2022

I had my quarter one review this week, I had a productive review meeting with my line manager. I have made good progress against my objectives for this year. I was commended for the content of the review document. This is of course quite easy to fill, as I use JIRA and Confluence to plan and implement my objectives. In addition, I have these weeknotes to refer to for other things I have done. I also made use of the blog posts I published this quarter in addition to the weeknotes. I am reminded though I have published less this quarter than I have in previous quarters, so time to get that typewriter out and get typing.

Typewriter
Image by Patrik Houštecký from Pixabay

Elon Musk started to impact on the Twitter, so much so that lots of people were talking about moving off the Twitter and onto other similar services, with Mastodon getting much of this traffic. We had some discussions about Mastodon at work. I went out and created an account on mastodon.cloud and then discovered I had already created an account before, well back in August 2018, on mastodon.social. So, I went back and deleted the new account and started to use the original account.

Though I had been on Mastodon since 2018 the recent influx has got me back on the app. Though my stream of stuff is mainly people telling people how to use Mastodon and what and what not to do. Reminds me of Twitter in 2009 when there was a similar level of new users starting to use that service.

We had a sector strategy meeting to discuss future strategy and planning.

lecture theatre
Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Had a learning spaces meeting with our Advice Team on their forthcoming project on learning spaces. Gave background to the scoping work we did last year and provided insights into their brief.

Had a Funders and Public Affairs catchup meeting.

Chaired our bi-weekly HERLT meeting – as we develop the ways in which we work, this was an useful exploration of the purpose, function and need for the meeting. It raised a lot of questions over what and when we discuss activity across the directorate. I do feel we need to reflect on the spread and breadth of what we do and how we incorporate that into our future meetings.

Had an excellent discussion on the concept of a teaching and learning service wrapper for Content & Discovery. Reflecting on an offer for members and customers that incorporates community, advice & guidance, thought leadership, other (transformative) content, different audiences across an institution and reflecting about what this could look like. Next step may be to workshop this into a plan of action.

Had a meeting with a university where we discussed the history of Jisc’s previous work in the intelligent campus space. We explored what Jisc is currently undertaking in the smart campus space.

campus
Image by 小亭 江 from Pixabay

I did some preparation for the Learning Places Scotland presentation I am delivering next week. I also worked on my Moving Target Digitalisation keynote.

Setting up a meeting to provide advice on strategy development with an internal team.

Read GuildHE’s briefing paper on how OfS could be a better .

My top tweet this week was this one.

Another one – Weeknote #191 – 28th October 2022

This week we saw our third prime minister this year take office and a new cabinet and another new education secretary. So how long to the next one then?

Well I go on leave last week and come back to a full and bursting inbox (which was empty when I left) with over 140 emails to read, review, and act upon.

I had some more thoughts about what universities could do in the event of blackouts or on the impact of the energy crisis on changing student behaviour.

I spent most of the week in London.

I had some discussions on future content (what we use to call thought leadership) that would inspire digital transformation, provide insights into current practice and imagine what the future possibilities are. As a result, I spent some time scoping out some concepts and ideas on what this could look like, across our HE strategy.

Our HE strategy says for example

We will, in partnership with universities, develop approaches and digital solutions to improve and enhance the student experience and greater equity in access and participation in the UK and abroad.

If we think about insight, this is what is happening now, case studies, exemplars, commentary from sector, review, what good looks like now. So, for an insight into enhancing the student experience, university could explain how they are reviewing the student journey, so  to enable them to use digital tools and services to enhance the student experience.

As for inspiration, this is what you could do in the near term, what you need to do to achieve the potential of digital and technology, what good could look like in the next 2-5 years. So, an overview of the near future student journey illustrated with specific examples from the sector of how digital solutions are enhancing and improving that experience.

As for the future, we can imagine through horizon scanning, visions for the future, what good would look like in the next 5-10 years, what could be different, why would it be different. An example of this could be the 2035 student experience? How can digital and data enhance that experience and what does this mean for universities?

What was important to me, was to provide some scope and ideas on what we could do, not necessarily what we will do. Across the strategic themes and the concepts of insight, inspire and imagine, there are lots of opportunities for developing inspirational transformative content. Of course this had to be all backed up with toolkits, frameworks, support, advice and guidance, and a range of products and services that enable all of this.

On Tuesday I had a planning meeting, which demonstrated the importance of underpinning foundations and a clear vision to enable functional and effective planning.

One of my reasons for being in London, apart from some meeting was to undertake some research and ideation in the Intelligent Campus space. This involved some conversations, desk research, and field work across various campuses (in this case) across London.

I had some more conversations about learning spaces, for further scoping and research.

I continued with the Senior Education and Student Experience Group logistics and preparation for our meeting in December and further meetings next year.

I also continued with my preparation and planning for events in Scotland and Germany in November.

I did a quick skim of the OfS Blended Learning Review, might spend some time on this next week.

My top tweet this week was this one.

I am not going to resign – Weeknote #175 – 8th July 2022

This week I was working from home. Politically it was a chaotic week, as from Tuesday evening, there were multiple resignations across the government, which culminated with Boris Johnson standing down as leader on Thursday morning. We had three Education Secretaries of State in three days, and at one point there were no ministers in the Department for Education.

I took some leave this week, and spent much of the rest of the week planning for next week, next month and the next year.

I published a more detailed blog post about the Learning at City conference I attended last week.

Overall I had a really good day and enjoyed all the sessions I attended.

I have been reviewing the drafts of the revised Intelligent Campus guide, which was originally published in 2017. This revised version is updated and sets the scene, potentially, for future guides and reports in this space. The first of these will be likely a guide to the Intelligent Library. We have also been revising the many use cases we published for the Intelligent Campus.

Going forward there are lots of opportunities, and this will be led by sector need after scoping and researching the space. I am planning a series of community events and workshops across this space for next year.

One area I think has potential is the intelligent learning space. I did write about this two years ago, in a blog post.

An intelligent learning space could take data from a range of sources, not just the physical aspects of the space and how it is being used, but also the data from digital systems such as attendance records, the virtual learning environment, the library, student records, electronic point-of-sale and online services. This joined-up approach can provide insights into the student experience that we would otherwise miss. These insights can inform and support decision-making by individuals across the campus, including students, academic and professional service staff. By using live and dynamic data, decisions can be made that are based on the current state of the different learning spaces across the campus.

Is this something we need? Would it be useful, or would it only result in marginal benefits to the overall student experience?

Had a scoping call about a possible presentation to HEAnet in Dublin in September, which will be good.

My top tweet this week was this one.

The VLE is not dead – Weeknote #167 – 13th May 2022

Image by drippycat from Pixabay

Monday morning, I was off to Queen Mary University of London for their VLE Expo. This was very much a QMUL focussed event, though they had invited a range of VLE vendors. I liked how the focus of the event was about, what do we want to do to achieve our strategic aspirations, how will the VLE help us to do that, and which platform (or platforms) will enable us to do that.

There were some excellent presentations from the academic staff on the different ways in which they were using technology including virtual reality, mixed reality and H5P. I sat on the final panel session answering questions from the floor on a range of issues. A lot of the questions were more about the use of technology for learning and teaching, than VLE specific topics. However, I did get into a few discussions about the VLE on the Twitter as a result of attending the event.

I posted another blog post in my Lost in Translation series this time with a focus on the technical aspects of recording videos or audio files.

Most institutions will (probably) have equipment which staff can use, but if there is a strategic approach to building a sustainable approach to the use of video and audio, then universities will need to reflect if they have sufficient resources to support the increased demand for cameras and microphones.

video recording
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Tuesday I was still in London for a briefing session, well as it happened it got cancelled, so I worked in the office.

Apple have announced that they are going to stop selling the iPod once the current stocks of iPod touch run out. So did you have an iPod and if so which one?

iPod
Photo by Cartoons Plural on Unsplash

Wednesday, I did two all-staff briefings for two directorates on the Jisc HE sector strategy. From the feedback I got they seemed to be well received.

I was reminded on the Twitter about when I took my bike to work. I made a video back then.

Mike Sharples posted an excellent Twitter thread on how AI can be used to write essays. I agree with Mike, if we are setting students assignments that can be answered by AI, are we really helping students learn?

I enjoyed the #LTHEchat on images in presentations in the evening.

These two blog posts from 2005 (and 2007) were very influential on my presentation style: Gates, Jobs, & the Zen aesthetic and Learning from Bill Gates & Steve Jobs. I also posted  a link to a presentation from an internal TEDx event about delivering presentations – A duck goes quack.

Thursday, I made my way to Harwell for a drop in session I was running at the Jisc offices there, alas an accident the closure of the M4 meant I spent nearly four hours sitting the car rather than sitting in a room talking to Jisc staff. In the end I had to abandon my visit to the office.

Friday, I had a scoping call about learning spaces in higher education. Interested in the kinds of learning spaces higher education is using, flexibility, technology and the kinds of activities spaces are being used for.

I found this WonkHE article interesting – Learning design is the key to assuring the quality of modular provision in which Nick Mount talks about building quality assurance into the design of modular programmes and micro-credentials.

Traditional providers can expect to find themselves facing the difficult job of rethinking existing assurance processes that are designed for coherent, longitudinal programmes of study, so that they can accommodate a new pick-and-mix landscape of highly portable and stackable micro-credential learning.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Quiet – Weeknote #110 – 9th April 2021

Well the week started later (as might be expected) with Easter Monday. Also with it being a school holiday and people taking leave, it was also a rather quiet week with very few meetings. This allowed me to crack on with a few things that were in my to do list.

The Guardian started the week with this article – Universities are angry at PM’s failure to include reopening plan in Covid roadmap.

University leaders said it was deeply unfair that students could get haircuts or work in pubs next week but still had no idea when their campuses would reopen, as the government announced that school pupils in England will be expected to wear masks until the middle of May.

mobile phone
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The BBC News reported on Gavin Williamson wanting to ban mobile phones in schools.

Mobile phones should be banned from schools because lockdown has affected children’s “discipline and order,” the education secretary has warned. Gavin Williamson told The Telegraph phones should not be “used or seen during the school day”, though he said schools should make their own policies. Phones can act as a “breeding ground” for cyber-bullying and social media can damage mental health, he added. “It’s now time to put the screens away, especially mobile phones,” he wrote.

I was reminded of a blog post that I wrote back in 2008.

Does your institution ban mobile phones in the classroom? Does it just ban the use of mobile phones in the classroom? Or does it just ban the inappropriate use of mobile phones in the classroom?

The key with any great learning process is the relationship between teacher and student, get that right and you are onto a winner. Disruption happens with that relationship breaks down, not when a phone rings.

My experience of school policies today, is that they actually already ban mobile phones….

I also liked this response from @Simfin who is an expert in this space.

I did like this article on Wonkhe – Where next for digital learning? by Julie Swain. She says that the key pillars of action to support staff and students need to focus on are:

  • Digital poverty
  • Digital Learning Spaces
  • Mental Health Support
  • Digital Learning Skills

In the article Julie recognises that digital poverty isn’t just about connectivity and hardware, it’s also about space and time.

She says about space: Space has proven to be a major issue. There were assumptions that students and staff had “study spaces” at home where they could shut off and dedicate themselves to learning. Again that is just not the case for many and it is not uncommon to be “inside someone’s spare room or even bedroom “.

Though I also think we need to consider low bandwidth and asynchronous learning activities as well as space, connections and hardware.

My top tweet this week was this one.

What have I been doing? – Weeknote #72 – 17th July 2020

Last Friday I delivered a presentation at the University of Hertfordshire Teaching & Learning Conference. There was some really nice feedback from delegates at the conference.

Really hard to gauge feedback when delivering via Teams and all I can see is my Powerpoint presentation screen. Twitter at least gives me some insight to how it was received.

It would appear that my blog post on the main Jisc website was picked up by academics at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.  Continue reading What have I been doing? – Weeknote #72 – 17th July 2020

The Intelligent Learning Space

So what do we mean by a learning space and how is an intelligent learning space different? What is a smart learning space?

lecture theatre
Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

As we design learning spaces, we can add sensors and mechanisms to collect data on the use of those learning spaces. It then how we analyse and use that data that allows those spaces to be initially smart and then intelligent.

Generally most learning spaces are static spaces designed to allow for particular kinds of learning. Some have an element of flexibility allowing for different kinds of learning activity within the same space.

We have seen lecture theatres where the seats can swivel to allow for discussion and group work. There are other lecture spaces where the students are seated in groups around a table, allowing them to see the front of the room and work together. New active learning spaces allow students to work independently or in groups, but the use of large screens on the table allows for whole group teaching or lecturing.

Often the pedagogy is shoe-horned into the space that is available and even if more appropriate spaces are available on campus, often they are unavailable for that particular slot or cohort.

solitary
Photo by Philippe Bout on Unsplash

In the past room utilisation was often a combination of what was in the timetable and what could be seen during a survey (often with a clipboard).

There is some technology already in place which can start us on the road to making better-informed decisions about how best to use space – sensors, for example. We all know when lighting is linked to a movement sensor because everything goes dark when we sit still for too long, promoting much frantic arm-waving to turn the lights back on.

But a smart learning space goes further than such simple actions and allows us to gather data about the spaces and, importantly, act on that data. We can turn down heating in rooms which aren’t being used, and some systems will take into account the external temperature, humidity and pollution levels, and not just the time of year.

We can use electronic entry systems, such as swipe cards, to ensure the security of the rooms, but also to measure room occupancy. We can also ensure that the lighting, heating and CO2 levels are within defined parameters.

If you then throw in data from the timetabling system, the curriculum, lesson planning, teacher commentary and feedback, student feedback. You then start to get a wealth of data that could be analysed and used to design and enhance the learning activities which will take place in that learning space.

A smart learning space would taken into account historical usage of the room and how people felt that the space either contributed or hindered the learning taking place there. You can imagine how users of the room could add to a dataset about the activities taking place in the room and how they felt it went.

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

Of course there is a challenge with historical data in terms of bias, errors and legacy processes. You can imagine that if a space, regardless of what it had been designed to be, was only used for lectures, then the historical data would imply that the space was only ideal for lectures. Bringing in more datasets would help alleviate that issue and ensure any assumptions about the space had some element of validity.

You would think that data from the timetable could allow for this automatically, but timetabling data tells us about the cohort, the course they are on and the academic leading the session, most timetabling software doesn’t have the granular activity data in it. What will be happening in that session, not only what was planned, but also what actually did happen.

The course module information may have the plans of the activity data within it, but may not have the room data from the timetable, nor may it have cohort details. You could easily imagine that some cohorts may be quite happy with undertaking group activities in a lecture theatre space, but there may be other cohorts of students who would work more effectively if the space was better at facilitating the proposed learning activity.

Likewise when it comes to adding feedback about the session, where does that live? What dataset contains that data?

Then there are environmental conditions such as heat, temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, which can also impact on the learning process.

So an actual smart learning space would be able to access data about the session from multiple sources and build a picture of what kinds of learning spaces work best for different kinds of learning activities, taking into account factors such as cohort, environmental conditions, the academic leading the session and so on…

Working together
Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

These datasets could also be used to inform future space planning and new builds, but smart learning spaces are only the beginning. Taking a smart space and making it intelligent is an obvious next step.

An intelligent learning space would take this data, and then start to make suggestions based on the data. It would identify possible issues with the learning plan and make recommendations to either change the learning activities planned, or recommend a more appropriate space. An intelligent learning space would adjust the environmental conditions to suit the activities planned for that spaces, rather than users of the space having to manually adjust the conditions when it becomes too cold, too hot, too bright, stuffy, etc….

An intelligent learning space could take data from a range of sources, not just the physical aspects of the space and how it is being used, but also the data from digital systems such as attendance records, the virtual learning environment, the library, student records, electronic point-of-sale and online services.

This joined-up approach can provide insights into the student experience that we would otherwise miss. These insights can inform and support decision-making by individuals across the campus, including students, academic and professional service staff. By using live and dynamic data, decisions can be made that are based on the current state of the different learning spaces across the campus.

Making the timetabling software intelligent, well at least dynamic, could mean that learning spaces are not allocated to cohorts of students for a set amount of time, but learning spaces are allocated based on pedagogical need and student need and done as and when needed.

One of the key issues with all this is to collect and store the data somewhere, a centralised hub or data lake would be critical.

Reflecting on the informality of learning – Weeknote #31 – 4th October 2019

The view from St Philip's Bridge in Bristol
The view from St Philip’s Bridge in Bristol

Over the weekend I saw this article on WonkHE called  Learning in the spaces in between,

The final paragraph said:

With institutions re-evaluating their teaching and thinking how best to invest, it’s a great time to consider whether we really understand how students are using informal educational spaces outside of the classroom. The student perspective combined with novel use of occupancy data is bringing us closer to answering that conundrum.

Reminded me of this blog post that I wrote this back in 2017 on designing informal learning spaces that would encourage informal learning.

 Well the key really is to think about what actually facilitates and encourages informal learning.

It’s a combination of factors and can include design of learning spaces and the learning activities undertaken by the learners.

Creating the right contexts and environments for informal learning, will ensure that the concept of learn anywhere and anytime is encouraged and enhanced.

Though I wouldn’t have called it ethnography (and I certainly wouldn’t call it ethnography today) my blog post was based on my experiences in designing and running libraries, as well as developing the use of digital and virtual learning. I would spend a lot of time observing how learners would use our spaces, what they were doing in those spaces and I felt importantly what they weren’t doing as well. I would talk to learners, more importantly I would listen to learners. We would also measure space utilisation and activity in our spaces and all this would inform how we would design and change the space.

Sofa's in the library at Gloucestershire College
Sofa’s in the library at Gloucestershire College

When we originally designed the spaces, an important aspect to me was flexibility, being able to change the space as demands on that space changed, in how people wanted to use it and how many wanted to use it. All our shelving for example was on wheels, could be moved easily and quickly around. So following observation and listening, we would adjust the space accordingly.

That blog post was inspired by another one I had written in 2010 on designing informal learning.

The premise of that article was you couldn’t design informal learning (as that would formalise it) but what you could do is create spaces that would encourage informal learning.

It is more challenging to create learning spaces that encourage informal and social learning. As demands on space continues to grow and demand for more learner-led learning, it is important that institutions consider much more how their spaces can be used for informal learning.

Victoria Street in Bristol
Victoria Street in Bristol

Monday I was into the office in Bristol for various meetings and some training on culture. One of the things I did finalise was my performance objectives for the year ahead. One thing which I ensured was that my objectives were derived from the strategic objectives of the organisation. This way everything I do is contributing to the organisational strategic priorities. This process was something we did on the Jisc Digital Leaders Programme and I also illustrated in this sketchnote.

Vision

I also had a discussion about writing an article about Education 4.0, but with a copyright lens. At this time we’ve not really looked into the copyright implications of the changes that could happen in the world of education.

Alas when leaving the office later that day, it was pouring rain and I got rather damp walking back to my car. I realised my waterproof coat was in fact no longer waterproof.

Illness in others and terrible rain, meant that meetings were changed, so I was able to change my plans from going into the Bristol office to working from home on Tuesday and avoid the rain.

I saw a video in the Twitter on the fourth industrial revolution which I thought was rather good so I blogged about it.

What is Industry 4.0?

Wednesday saw an interesting anniversary, as ten years ago on the 2nd October, I was at the ULCC Event, The Future of Technology in Education.

James Clay presenting at FOTE09
James Clay presenting at FOTE09

Little did I know the impact that this presentation would have on me, my future career and education in general. I wrote a nostalgic blog post looking back at the event, my presentation and the impact it had.

The future of learning… ten years later!

Group working
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

I spent a lot of time on Thursday interviewing prospective student partners for Jisc. We like to know what is important to students regarding their use of technology in education and research. What skills they think they need and how they want to learn. So every year we get a group of students from across HE and FE and work with them in a variety of different ways. Some attend our meetings, others our events, they participate in podcasts, panel sessions and workshops. I have always felt it was important to listen to the student voice to inform my work.

Friday I had various meetings, but managed to make a lot of progress on our Learning Technologist technical career pathway. We will be piloting this with individuals over the next twelve months.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Drawing at #altc

CB_ALT_WED_38 https://flic.kr/p/XRVcwY CC BY-NC 2.0
CB_ALT_WED_38 https://flic.kr/p/XRVcwY CC BY-NC 2.0

I spent the last week at the ALT Conference in Liverpool where I listened and participated in a range of sessions on learning technologies. As I did the previous year I did manage to make some sketch notes of the keynotes and some of the sessions. I was using the iPad pro, Paper by 53 and an Apple Pencil.

My sketch notes are really for me, rather than other people. The process of sketching allows my to digest for myself what is been talked about and demonstrated. The sketch note provides me with a mechanism that provides a process for my interpretation of what is being said and what I understand from the talk. The process of sketching engages me in the talk in ways in which note taking does for others, or conversing on the Twitter. They are not done for other people, if other people find them useful then that’s just a bonus. Having said that I do share them online, through Twitter (and Flickr).

Quite a few people came up to me to ask what I was doing, what app I was using and if I was sharing them. I had similar questions on Twitter as well.

Continue reading Drawing at #altc