Learning Spaces – Policy and Guidelines

Flexible Classrooms Developments and Protocols

This University protocol includes a commitment to ensuring classrooms are set up and managed to support flexible active learning by default. The following points are extracted from the paper agreed by the University in June 2016.

Amongst the University’s diverse learning spaces, the imaginative, flexible and interactive use of the classroom establishes a setting for challenging and rewarding teaching and learning experiences.

The impact of the flexible classroom on learner engagement, on teaching and learning, and on student success can be optimised by:

  • drawing upon established principles of good university teaching to develop the capabilities of academic staff to use the flexible classroom’s physical and digital attributes with confidence and fluency;
  • establishing cabaret-style small group layout as a default classroom setting together with an expectation that classrooms should be arranged by the teacher and their students to reflect their developing needs and their associated flexible pedagogies;
  • replacing heavy tables and chairs, through scheduled refurbishment cycles and special projects, with light, robust and easy to stack furniture so that teachers and their students can easily reconfigure rooms prior to, during and after formal sessions;
  • developing a more flexible approach to room allocation so that student-centred active learning methods have the extra space they need to make full use of the room during normal teaching times. This can be achieved by accommodating unusually high demand with the provision of a small percentage of additional good quality stackable seating and extra folding tables in, or proximate to, classrooms;
  • replacing through refurbishment cycles dominant lecterns with smaller rack systems, thereby removing a significant obstacle to classroom communications and making it easier for students and teachers to interact with each other;
  • incorporating multiple screens in classrooms where this makes it easier for students to interact with projected information, including the content students may be involved in producing in class;
  • incorporating whiteboards and other large writing surfaces to support student group work;
    • continuing to enhance the underpinning technical infrastructure of classrooms for supporting learner interactivity within the classroom and connectivity to information, online media tools and services, and peer and professional networks beyond the classroom as a strategic priority;
  • addressing, as a particular priority, the development of digital classrooms that enable all student participants, as guided by their teacher, to share and project the digital outputs of small group work activities from personal and provided devices for example.

Other points and practical guidance for implementing the protocol are included in the paper.