Designing collaborative learning spaces that support digital at Massey University

There is no doubt learning is changing. New technologies – such as interactive whiteboards, mobile and high quality digital learning resources – are transforming the experiences and ambitions of learners.

In response to the evolving digital environment, the last decade has seen institutions across the New Zealand higher education sector creating and designing innovative spaces that support flexible teaching and learning, in a bid to improve learning outcomes, enhance digital literacy and optimize the student experience.

With the Ministry of Education recently reporting that approximately 90 per cent of New Zealand’s educational institutions are currently exploring the direct correlation between space and technology, it appears many universities are already realizing the benefits new learning styles, supported by good space design, can provide.

For Massey University, the concept of ‘new generation learning’ is not new. The University has for over fifty years been New Zealand’s leading distance provider of higher education and has kept pace with innovation, shifting from traditional learning modes through to a sophisticated digital platform. Since 2008, the University has been actively future-proofing its buildings to better engage students, staff and visitors through the use of innovative space design, along with technologically enabled pedagogies.

And while the journey so far has not been without challenges, the transition to new innovative learning spaces has been very popular among students from all academic disciplines, with an impressive 90 per cent satisfaction rate.

Ahead of New Generation Learning New Zealand 2016, we caught up with Professor Giselle Byrnes, Assistant Vice-Chancellor Research, Academic and Enterprise at Massey University, to find out how the University is creating learning environments that inspire and engage students, the tools they are using to align space with digital technology and the results that have been realized in terms of learning outcomes and student engagement.

Taking a multi-disciplinary approach to revamping learning environments

“Over the past eight years, Massey has rolled-out a number of flexible learning environments, transitioning from large fixed seating to large flat floor collaborative spaces. We have transformed spaces that incorporate traditional learning environments to incorporate new elements of design, like tiered seating, where appropriate, and movable furniture. These kinds of spaces allow for more collaborative learning and more facilitated engagement to occur.”

“We have taken a multi-disciplinary approach to revamping our environment, particularly in the business school and veterinary science teaching spaces. Our focus here has been on the delivery type rather than what a specific discipline needs. We’re trying to be flexible in our approach to cater for different learning types. For example, in the business discipline there is more emphasis on dialogue, analysis and group work than there is typically in veterinary science and other laboratory-based subjects. It’s important to factor these requirements in during the design phase, both in terms of learning space and curriculum planning.

All of our large entry level programs also adopt a collaborative form of teaching, through the use of problem based learning, which as a format lends itself to the need to have co-working, collaborative spaces. We’re trying to accommodate on-campus dialogue amongst groups of students in the teaching space design, as well as providing digital spaces for collaboration to occur among our large cohort of online students.

Because we are a large online provider, we consider it vital to facilitate online collaboration through our learning management system so that every Massey University student – whether studying on campus, online or in a blended mode – has an equivalent learning experience.”

Aligning space with digital technology

“Every one of our refurbishments or new builds in terms incorporates digital learning in the space design.

For example, we have collaborative software tools that have been included in the design, so that any device can log onto the software app that is available in the space and project onto the screens in the room. These screens can be on all walls, not just one wall, which allows for students to bring their own devices and use the resources for self-directed learning.

As a multi-campus institution, we also have a need for our classes to work in conjunction with each other. For example, a cohort of students from one location will need to connect with a cohort of students from another. So we need the software solutions to allow that to happen and Adobe Connect is the main tool we are using to achieve this collaboration.

We also have a video link teaching project we are investing in, at both our Manawatu (Palmerston North) and Auckland (Albany) campuses. The rooms in these two campuses are identical – the students are in a virtual classroom and communicate completely as if they are in the same room. This is innovative and there has been strong support for this kind of teaching, both from the students and the teachers.

Our rich media project is another area where we are continuing to invest. Over the last two years we have invested considerably in installing lecture capture software and hardware across all of our campuses. This has given us the ability to allow students to engage either in real-time out of the classroom or participate in personalised viewing options through Stream (our online learning system or LMS). This has allowed students to connect with the lecture in real-time or post-lecture and has very positive impacts for both distance learners and our on-campus students.”

Transforming the roles between students and staff: moving away from institutional to constructional learning

“The most graphic example of constructional learning is the conversion of old fashioned spaces – such as immovable tables and chairs in a tiered lecture theatre  – to flat floor spaces. These new spaces provide much more flexibility as they allow greater emphasis on dialogue around collaborative and cooperative learning. This also means there is less emphasis on the lecturer as the disseminator of information and more emphasis on the teacher being the facilitator and curator of learning.

Many of our lecturers are also engaging with flipped classroom principles. For example, the lecture or the tutorial (or the ‘lectorial’ as these modes of teaching and engagement blend into one another) is a space where the teacher and students come together to interrogate ideas, primarily on the basis that the students have been, with guidance from their teacher, accessing the content outside of the formal lecture class. Content is still delivered during class, but there is greater emphasis on the analysis, interpretation and critique of the work during the contact class time.

There has also been a shift where the lecturer is no longer the didactic teacher, or ‘sage on the stage’ and has become more of a facilitator and coordinator of learning – more of a ‘guide on the side’. In fact, the best teachers we have at Massey University describe their role as being ‘partners with the students on their learning journey.’

The spaces at Massey University reflect this pedagogical shift and we are also using technology to facilitate this shift. Technology has enabled a much more disruptive structure of a lecture – for example, if you have screens on every wall you can pull up online clips easily and you might have the ability to connect with students in another location. It’s much more interactive and engaging than the traditional 50 minute lecture.”

Ensuring staff are on board with new teaching and learning styles

“It is important to provide staff with sufficient support and development when rolling out new learning technology and designing spaces to support engaged learning. We have done this by having a strong academic development program to ensure staff feel supported. This program is also presented as part of their professional development and engagement.

We very much value teaching at Massey University, given that (along with research) it is one of the core types of work undertaken by our research-active academics. We reflect these values in our promotions policy and the ways in which staff are recognized and rewarded for their teaching quality and innovation, as well as providing supportive academic development.

For example, we run courses from the centre of the university around teaching development and design and are always looking for good ways to push our new ideas around best practice and peer-to-peer. It is important to ensure staff feel that innovative and new ways of teaching are supported by the University.

The new approach to learning can also be potentially a little threatening to the traditional role of the lecturer and the professional identity of the university academic, but the academic still has a very important role in the process: to guide, advise and co-construct the learning experience. In essence, there will always be a role for the teacher, but new learning spaces and technology makes learning more of a mutual discovery process.”

Interested in learning more?

Join Giselle at New Generation Learning New Zealand 2016, where she will further explore Massey’s success and the following:

  • How can we create learning environments that serve to inspire and engage our students and staff? 
  • The move from “instructional” teaching to “constructional” teaching, and how has this changed teacher and student roles 
  • Why do we need to align space design with digital technology? 
  • The innovative design and refresh of programs within an LMS and virtual learning environment 
  • Tailoring spaces and technology to suit teachers and their preferred pedagogies 
  • Providing adequate professional development and realigning pedagogical practice to optimize learning and teaching

For more information download the brochure here

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How ANU is digitising administrative processes to drive efficiency

Over the past two years, The Australian National University (ANU) has introduced a range of improvement initiatives designed enhance administrative services to better support teaching and research outcomes.

In 2014, ANU began their transformation journey with the roll-out of automated and standardised travel processes across the university. From there, digitalisation of processes became a core focus of their transformation project, and in 2015 Intelledox Digital Transformation Centre was established to improve efficiency and service delivery by digitising processes across functions.

“We started with a list of about 170 key end-to-end processes that were identified by our academics and our administrative communities as being high pain-point processes. Over the last 20 months we have digitised over 22 per cent of those processes,” says Lakshmi West, Director, Intelledox Digital Transformation Centre at ANU.

While the journey to date has not been without challenges, ANU is set to realise some big wins over the next couple years as a direct result of standardisation of processes and improved data quality and reporting.

“In July 2016 we had an independent audit done by a third party management audit team over a six month period to find out what the net benefits of digital transformation can be. The result is we achieve over $6.1 million of net benefit over the next seven years for the work we have done to date,” says Lakshmi.

So what strategies are Lakshmi and her team using to ensure successful process improvement throughout the university? And, more importantly, what steps are they taking to engage academics and stakeholders in the journey to ensure ROI?

Ahead of Higher Education Services Transformation 2016, Lakshmi shares how ANU built the business case for transformation, the core tools they are using to roll-out digital process improvements function by function and the key lessons other universities can learn from their journey to date.

Proof of concept: justifying the case for transformation

“ANU’s transformation journey began in 2014 when we were given a donation from two alumni who own a company called Intelledox, which provided us with software and perpetual licensing that allows data integration.

To prove that the technology and transformation would work at the University, in 2014 I project managed a small team of people to digitise, streamline and automate the travel approval process across the University. At the time, we had over 10 independent paper based forms and there was no standardised process.

We used Intelledox to roll-out digital transformation of travel approval and it was a major transformation –  not only  did we streamline and simplify the process, we  also standardised it. We also integrated this process within the Finance system, the HR system, DFAT, Electronic Records Management and the data warehouse.

This initial project changed practices. For example, administrators used to make travel arrangements on behalf of academics. We made the strategic decision that academics were to become responsible for their own travel, so the administrator was removed from the process.

The automated travel process was a proof of concept to demonstrate we could successfully digitally transform a process at the University. The aim was to show the academic community and the ANU at large that by accepting the donation from Intelledox, transformation would actually work in practice and not only in theory.

We have had many failed IT business transformation projects at ANU in the past. Even travel had two failed attempts before we picked it up. It was therefore important we could show digital transformation could work to gain the trust of the university community.

Based on feedback and research from administrative services surveys, travel approval was the most bureaucratic  process and a big pain point for academics. Since the project went in 2014, we have had about 30,000 travel approvals that have been initiated through this new digitally transformed process.

Off the success of that project, we created the Intelledox Digital Transformation Centre in 2015 with the aim to digitalise approximately 170 key end-to-end processes that were identified as pain-points by our academics and administrative community.

It has been a rapid journey starting the Centre. We started with travel, but we have since expanded our scope. Our approach was to transform function by function. For example, transform HR and find out as much as we could in a six to nine month block of transforming their processes and rolling-out those c hanges. The next step was then moving into the student space and making changes in a six to nine month block as well.”

Read the remaining case study here to further learn about how ANU is:

  • Rolling-out digital process improvements function by function
  • Engaging academics and end-users to ensure successful transformation
  • Learning from past mistakes to drive successful organisational-wide transformation

Download Case Study

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If you found this blog post interesting, you might also like to check out the Higher Education Services Transformation Agenda here

For more information visit www.highered-servicestransformation.com.au or call +61 2 9229 1000 or email enquire@iqpc.com.au

9 strategies universities can use to boost international student numbers

Insights from QUT, UWA, Monash, RMIT and TAFE Queensland International

For a long time now, international education has played a fundamental role in the economic viability of universities and TAFEs across Australia. What’s more, the $20 billion industry has also become key to Australia’s economy, society and global competitiveness, as well as its relationship with other countries.

While Australia has been making leaps and bounds in its ability to attract international students, it is facing stiff competition from a growing list of countries interested in boosting international enrolments.

This increased competition, coupled with increased global student mobility and internationalisation, means it has never been more important for higher education institutions across Australia to ensure they stay ahead of the latest marketing and recruitment techniques to remain competitive and relevant in a rapidly changing industry.

Ahead of International Student Recruitment and Marketing 2016, five of Australia’s top Higher Education institutions share insight into the key tools and strategies they are using to develop an effective international student recruitment and marketing strategy to stay ahead of the game.

Below, Queensland University of Technology (QUT),  Queensland TAFE International, University of Western Australia (UWA), Monash University and RMIT Vietnam, share 9 different steps universities and TAFEs can take to ensure they are successfully engaging students, and in turn, boosting international student numbers.

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  1. Establish a unique selling proposition (USP)

Kent Anderson, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Community and Engagement), University of Western Australia (UWA)

“International education is global and competitive; therefore you have to have focus and a USP. It is important to specifically know and understand what you want to sell and what is unique about your product that is different to another one.

Think about your USP country by country. For example, what is going to make a student want to study in Hokkaido Japan, versus Osaka in Japan? If you think about it in an external way and then use that process to apply internally, it will become easier to identify your USP and from there tailor your campaign.”

  1. Understand what drives your students

Martin Lock, Manager – International Sales & Recruitment, TAFE Queensland International

“Capturing student insights is a big focus of our international student recruitment strategy. We are doing this by understanding some of the key things students are interested in when it comes to study.

Some of these include the portability of education, the employment outcomes, connections to different industries and the practicality of their study.

TAFE Queensland is industry and outcome driven and to understand what our students want, we have undertaken case studies with various students, as well as looking at the different environments students are coming from. The influence from family, local industry, country needs and the influence of lifestyle are all included in our approach to how we recruit students. Our aim is to match the needs and demands of students.

We have discovered that a lot of international student needs and expectations are closely aligned with our domestic market. As a result, we are comparing our domestic and international markets and if there is a correlation between the two of them, we are applying our domestic marketing strategy to our international market as well.”

To read the remaining 7 steps universities can use to boost international student numbers, download the full article here

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Read the full article to learn more about how:

  • The University of Western Australia are establishing a unique sales proposition, becoming and remaining data informed, and expanding their market research
  • TAFE Queensland International is building a cohesive Australian brand by linking study to employment opportunities and also understanding what drives their students
  • Queensland University of Technology is leveraging marketing automation as well as mapping out the student life cycle
  • Monash University is engaging students through digital channels
  • RMIT University Vietnam are monitoring their international competition and branching out to new markets to attract new students

For more information visit www.intl-studentrecruitmentandmarketing.com.au or call +61 2 9229 1000

Creating modern learning environments to enhance teaching and learning outcomes

An inside look at Stonefields School’s innovative learning spaces

It’s no secret the rise of digital technologies is transforming teaching and learning practices across the globe, with education providers realising the importance of providing and supporting an innovative learning environment that fosters collaboration, creation and curation with educational technology.

And as the classroom of today continues to evolve, it has never been more important for schools and universities to identify the best ways to implement new technology and design new learning spaces in a way that will improve learning outcomes and the overall student experience.

According to Sarah Martin, Principal at Stonefields School, the key to achieving this is creating purposeful learning environments which allow students to flourish.

“An important element of learning spaces is they should be quite purposeful and provide opportunities between learners to engage with other learners,” she says.

Built within the last decade, Stonefields School is internationally recognised for their highly innovative facilities in terms of learning space design and accompanying pedagogy.

With a vision for collaborative and autonomous learning, Stonefields also serves as a research and teaching platform for universities and the higher education sector.

Ahead of New Generation Learning New Zealand 2016, Higher Ed IQ caught up with Sarah to find out what other schools and universities can learn from Stonefields unique approach to learning design, and the strategies her team is using to create personalised and innovative learning curriculums and how this is improving teaching and learning outcomes.

Creating purposeful learning spaces

“Stonefields School is a series of nine Learning Hubs, each which facilitate innovative learning. Each hub is an open modern learning space that accommodates the equivalent of 3 classes of learners and 3 teachers.

For example, in one of our hubs, there are 15 classrooms within one big space, each of which  are joined together with doors, that are more often than not, open. This creates lovely opportunities between spaces for learners to engage with other learners.

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Another important element of the learning hubs are that each has been designed to foster purposeful learning. For example, the lino where arts and crafts take place are wet to facilitate a different type of learning in comparison to other classes.

Another unique element is the layout of these spaces – there are a lot of interesting corners and spaces within the larger learning hub. For example, each hub has at least two smaller spaces where children can opt into a quieter space or do other learning activities which might require a quieter environment. These kinds of designs create purposeful spaces for children to learn.”

Facilitating a collaborative teaching approach

“One of the most important decisions we made before any teachers or learners came on-board, was that teachers would not have their own class. Different teachers have different strengths, so the collaborative approach is removing the ‘I and my’ from teaching and replacing it with ‘we and our.’

As a result, we use a lot different frameworks which underpins a highly synergetic team. We have a function that supports the team’s effectiveness but it all begins with being comfortable in the ‘we’ space and being incredibly self-aware. We have come to learn that collaboration is the supersizer in what is possible and it certainly optimises organisational culture.

The other capability we work intentionally hard on, is people’s ability to make sense with one another. When people are engaging in transformational conversations, it is important to understand and hear other people’s perspective – it’s not always about agreeing to disagree if we are going to move things forward. So when it comes to innovative and collaborative learning, people’s sense making is a big part of what we do.”

Integrating new tech into learning and teaching

“Stonefields is one-to-one learning from six years old. Our year two and three students all have iPads that the school owns – families can purchase a device for their child or they can buy it outright. We also have digital printers, GoPros and even IMAX recording and video-making facilities throughout the school. We embrace and utilise technology that will enhance kids’ learning outcomes.

When it comes to rolling-out new tech in learning spaces, it is important to consider student wants and needs. A great example of this would be a letter I received recently from a couple of students who wanted DJ boards to be able to mix and create their own music.

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Based on student feedback we bought these tools that the kids needed. The lesson learned is digital or not, it’s important to be very open to the student voice and student-led initiatives. They provide the ideas; we provide the funding to put those ideas into action.”

Measuring the impact: analysing data to understand the impact innovative learning has on student and teaching outcomes

“Since rolling-out new innovative learning spaces,  we have seen an increase in student achievements through the data we collect. For example, a cohort at the beginning our journey were 48 per cent below the national standard. After three years, that same cohort is now 100 per cent above the national standard.

Another important result has been staff satisfaction – we have highly engaged staff and our staff retention rate is quite high. Through staff surveys we have discovered staff feel they have an opportunity to pursue their own strengths in our workplace.

It is difficult to quantify improvements purely being about space, but when we look at the shift in our graduate profile, both soft and hard data points demonstrate our learner quality over time having positive effect around a child’s ability to reflet or connect through learning.

We also have national standard data which is gained digitally and we are able to use these data sets to see how a child is progressing and we can highlight the next steps for their learning profession.

We also have online progression available as well, which involves an Anytime Reporting tools which allows parents to see how their child is going and what their next learning steps are. This is highly beneficial, especially when children want to engage at home, as it provides parents with the information and tools to support their child’s learning experience at home.”

The challenge: changing the mind shift to a new style of learning

“The biggest challenge we’ve faced on our journey to date has been the mind shift. We have all been to school and we’re all experts when it comes to parent expectations. But this is challenging because we’re asking teachers to straddle two paradigms: a 20th century one and a 21st century one.

Being courageous and knowing future predictions about the workplace our children will reside in is important. We need to abandon some of the soft skills we have ‘always done,’ because it is going to be quite redundant in our children’s future. It is a big challenge bringing parents on board with this type of thinking and the key is to communicate the benefits as strongly as we can.

Another challenge is sometimes our mental models can constrain what is possible in a more open, collaborative environment. As a result, we have done work on brainstorming ways to embrace new ideas and new ways of teaching and learning when those inadequate mental models might get in the way.”

Interested in learning more?

Join Sarah at New Generation Learning New Zealand 2016 where she will further explore:

  • Personalising learning by designing non-prescriptive curriculums tailored to each student’s strength, needs and interests, thus developing self-motivated and self-managed learners 
  • Strategies for creating future-proof spaces that enhance teaching and learning outcomes 
  • Interconnected learning hubs and the benefits of having composite classrooms 
  • Creatively leveraging technology, and its impact on staff, students and parents 
  • Complete incorporation of technology through online platforms to eliminate a paper trail and increase flexibility, connectivity and transparency

For more information download the agenda here

If you found this article interesting, you might like to also check out our recent article with Krisy Ryan, Academic Director at Monash University, which explores the strategies Monash is using to design a new paradigm for learning and the steps they are taking to design multidisciplinary learning spaces that cater for new student learning styles.

Read the article Creating a multidisciplinary learning and teaching building at Monash University here

 

How UWA is Growing International Student Numbers Through Data-driven Marketing

Global student mobility has been steadily growing over the past decade, and according to OECD’s recent findings, shows no signs of declining any time soon.

With the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2015 report forecasting international student mobility to nearly double to 8.5 million students by 2025, it comes as no surprise that  international student recruitment has become central to many universities strategic business plans for the future.

And as the competition to win students continues to intensify around the globe, universities are focusing on new and innovative marketing strategies to recruit and retain high quality international students. Now more than ever before, universities are recognising that students are also customers and the need to provide excellence customer experience across the student lifecycle.

According to Kent Anderson, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Community and Engagement), University of Western Australia (UWA), capturing a holistic view of the student lifecycle can have big benefits when it comes to international student recruitment – and the key to achieving it is data.

“One of the driving principals of UWA’s international marketing and recruitment strategy is that all decisions should be data informed. All of our decisions are based on the data we have,” he says.

Over the past two years Kent and his team at UWA have been refining their international student recruitment strategy to ensure improved ROI from their efforts. Through a focus on student insights, digital marketing and a future focused outlook, UWA is aiming to boost international student numbers from 20 per cent  of the student body, to 30 per cent over the coming years.

Ahead of International Student Recruitment and Marketing 2016, Kent shares the core elements of UWA’s international student recruitment and marketing strategy and how they are capturing and using student insights to drive an exceptional student experience, and in turn, boost international student numbers across their campus.

Attracting international students to UWA: the essentials

“The University of Western Australia (UWA) has a long tradition of internationalism and attracting international students, but for the last 15 years we had a capped the total number of international students we could enrol at 15 per cent.

These insights are part on an exclusive article with Kent Anderson, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Western Australia. Download the report here, to learn more about:

  • Attracting international students
  • Capturing student insights to boost student numbers
  • Engaging students on digital platforms
  • UWA’s proven tips for success

For more information about our International Student Recruitment & Marketing Conference 2016 download the brochure. The event brings together 20 influential speakers from across higher education and explores:

  • Strategies to improve commencement rates
  • Forming key relationships and Maintaining Partnerships
  • Reputation Management and Building a Cohesive Australian Brand
  • Leveraging social media trends to engage international students with Digital Marketing
  • Data Analytics and Data Mapping – evaluating industry data to tap into new markets and drive growth

7 strategies universities can use to DESIGN & DEVELOP INNOVATIVE LEARNING SPACES

Over the past decade there has been a huge shift in approach to the design of learning spaces in higher education. As technology continues to advance with the rapid pace of change, so too are student demands and expectations when it comes to learning.

As a result, universities are looking to new innovative ways of teaching, with a big focus on linking pedagogy to learning space design, and how technology can best be utilised in these spaces to improve student engagement and learning outcomes.

Ahead of New Generation Learning New Zealand 2016, we take a look at 7 key strategies universities and schools across Australia and New Zealand are using to design innovative learning spaces to remain relevant to the digital student.

1 Establish a unique learning environment
Swinburne University of Technology is one university which is seeing its students benefit from a space developed and designed specifically for interactive online learning to drive better student learning outcomes.

Four years ago the University and online employment giant SEEK, established Online Education Services (OES) to create engaging online learning experiences for students.

OES’ first endeavor is Swinburne Online, which provides online degrees and postgraduate qualifications for Swinburne students, transforming teacher led units to suit an online environment.

According to Dr. Jay Cohen, Learning Design Manager, OES, while Swinburne has had a big focus on digital learning delivery in the higher education space for some time now, the key to success has been creating a unique learning environment for students and staff.

“There are a few elements that make our approach unique. The first is our student-centric approach which underpins the support services we provide from orientation to graduation for our students.

“We have a thorough orientation for students, seven-day support services, on-demand assignment assistance and tutoring services as well as a bespoke social network platform called ‘Connect,’ which we use to keep students connected to the broader student and staff community,” he says.

Essentially, OES is taking on-campus content and trying to fit it into an online environment – which Jay says has not come without challenges.

“What we are finding, is that what works on campus may not necessarily work in an online environment.

If you’re building an online learning space from scratch, it is actually a completely different design from a classroom based design.

Feeding classroom based content into an online environment does create challenges, because elements of design that are in the campus don’t rolling over into an online environment.

Designing and building an online learning space is not about transferring what you are doing on campus to online – it doesn’t work that simply.

For example, in a traditional university environment a lecture might run somewhere between 80 and 110 slides per lecture. But we can’t put Power Point slides in an online environment. So we have to think in a completely different way when it comes to designing content, as well as assessments – particularly when it comes to group work.

Group activities or group assessments in a classroom environments means students can go and sit at a table and discuss and collaborate in person. In the online environment, there is no classroom which makes it significantly more difficult to facilitate collaborative learning,” he explains.

In order to overcome such challenges, Jay and his team have focused on integrating new and innovative technologies to provide a more collaborative and innovative learning experience for students.

“We have had to reimagine what it means to collaborate in order to foster an engaged online learning community through the use of video, audio and other technological resources, which has created an interactive environment,” he says.

These insights are part of an exclusive report with seven leading universities from Australia and New Zealand. The report delves into new generation learning spaces and explores blending the vitual with the physical, future-proofing learning spaces, catering to different learning and teaching styles and the use of data analytics in creating personalised learning spaces.

For more information on our New Generation Learning New Zealand 2016 event please download the brochure. The even brings together over 20 speakers and leading innovators and explores key considerations relevant to ensuring a pedagogically receptive and innovative campus for 21st Century learners. 

Driving Operational Efficiency Through Shared Services Transformation at Swinburne University

In this video interview, Joanne Austin, Former Faculty General Manager Business and Law at Swinburne University, explores the core elements of Swinburne University’s services transformation journey to date and the measures other universities can adopt to ensure and enhance operational efficiency.

Interested in learning more? Download the exclusive powerpoint presentation by Joanne Austin from Higher Education Services Transformation 2015 where she explores;

  • Having a clear understanding of shared services and centralised operating models.
  • Integrating technologies to support teaching and enhance the student experience.
  • Exploring and adopting measures to enhance universities operating efficiency.

For more information about our Higher Education Shared Services 2016 event download the brochure. The event will bring together over 20 speakers and innovators and cover topics such as;

  • Selecting the appropriate operating structures to reduce operational costs and enhance value of university support services.
  • Engaging stakeholder throughout the transformation process for continuous improvement and smoother transition.
  • Redesigning administrative functions and structures for higher quality student experience.

How one team overcame design and construction challenges to create a cutting edge research facility

Earlier this year we spoke with Dr Ian Garthwaite, Laboratory Services Manager – Research at The Charles Perkins Centre, about the design and technological elements that make Sydney University’s $385 million purpose-built research facility ‘world-class.’

In the interview, Ian revealed a change to the procurement method from a traditional to a design and construct methodology, meant the facility had to be designed and documented as it was being built via a fast-track process.

This not only bought about a unique set of challenges for architecture practice FJMT (in association with Building Studio) and the contractor Brookfield Multiplex, but it also meant the client and project team had to work very closely together to ensure the vision of creating a leading research facility was delivered.

In order to uncover the specific strategies the project team used to overcome major design and build challenges to deliver a leading research facility, we asked Matthew Todd, Principal at Hassell (formally a Principal at FJMT) to shed some light on his experience in designing and buikding the Charles Perkins Centre…

Project objectives: meeting the client brief

The main objective of the research component of the project was to  facilitate cross-disciplinary interaction between various groups within the university. That was  the over-arching goal of the brief.  We had to meet and deliver that vision to the  University of Sydney.

This is a unique project in the sense that it originated from a traditional design and documentation process undertaken by Hassell. However, following the University’s appointment of the contractor Brookfield Multiplex (BMPX), an alternate fast-track D&C procurement methodology was pursued to ensure the project was delivered on time and budget. FJMT (in association with Building Studio) was the architect on BMPX’s team.

The core of the BMPX alternate proposal was an entire building redesign. There was already a lot of great work done by Hassell on the earlier version of the building, and we came along and re-examined the brief. We had a six month window before BMPX started construction. We had to go back to the basics of the brief and run a huge number of meetings and workshops to ensure we were all on the same page and that the vision of our client would be met with a new building design. These meetings needed to be time efficient yet effective because as the facility was being designed, it was being built.

The 50,000 square metre project was designed, documented and constructed in two years – a testament to the skills and commitment of the entire project team.

The importance of stakeholder engagement

It goes without saying that collaboration and engagement with stakeholders is critical to the success of any large scale project. Regular meetings, workshops and presentations all played an important role in engaging everyone involved.

But from a design perspective, our other strategy was full-scale and extensive prototyping. This is something that doesn’t always happen as much as it should, but it’s a really important process which enables the user to physically see and interact with the full-scale vision.

We created a variety of prototypes in an offsite location that included a portion of the research lab module, workplace (an office, workstations, hot desks) and informal meeting area.  Users were invited to visit and provide feedback on the prototypes.

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Charles Perkins Centre Exterior

It was a great process which resulted in numerous refinements as we fine-tuned the design, details, materials and finishes based on direct feedback of the prototypes.. This iterative process was

especially critical due to the PC2 certification sought for the research labs as the little details are really important!

Key elements of design

In relation to the research components of the building, the key design elements were driven by a desire for clarity and legibility of the building for occupants. Despite the scale, this was achieved by a deliberately straight-forward layout of the research labs, workplaces and informal meeting and interaction spaces all surrounding a distinctive atrium.

As the symbolic heart of the building, the top-lit atrium gathers all the primary circulation elements (stairs, lifts) and interaction spaces to capture the energy of the occupants and facilitate informal meetings between different groups. The design of the varying curved atrium edge and locations of vertical circulation enables clear views between, and across, the floors right into the research laboratories.

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Atrium

On another level, our flexible and modular approach to the research laboratory design was fundamental to the design. Loose, yet modular, lab benches and mobile under bench cabinets are inherently reconfigurable by occupants – essential if the spaces are to react to the specific research requirements of each group. Likewise, services spines suspended from the ceiling are able to accommodate increased power, data and gas supply densities as needs arise.

Design challenges

There were a series of challenges affecting the design that we faced during the project, which were often interrelated. The construction timetable was a challenge – due to the fast-track process it was difficult to know when and how packages were being procured as changes were frequent.

Because of the proximity of the facility to St Johns College and the age of the campus itself, heritage was another key challenge. We had to ensure that the design of the Charles Perkins Centre integrated well with the surrounding buildings and campus.

Due to our programme milestones, we needed planning approval within a short timeframe to enable construction to continue.  We managed to do so through proactive engagement and staging of the planning submissions with the City of Sydney and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure.

Another challenge was the integration of technology. Technology, in particular audio visual, is constantly changing from the time you commence a project to when it is installed on site. So it was important for us to be able to get the latest and greatest technology into the facility, particularly for the 240 person teaching lab, known as the X-lab, which was a key to the success of the spaces.

Lessons Learned

There are always a lot of lessons from projects of this nature and scale but the main takeaway for me would be to ensure genuine collaboration between all parties involved. I’ve worked on a number of projects over the last 20 odd years and it has reinforced the fact that if everyone is together on the same page, you will deliver better outcomes.

Often there are problems when expectations within the team are quite different. That is when friction occurs. So it’s important to ensure you’re openly collaborating with each other at all stages of the project.

Another lesson we learnt is that starting with a thorough client brief is key to success. The clarity of the brief (prepared by Liz Partridge) helped us to ensure that expectations were aligned and that we delivered what the client was seeking.

Forecasting for the future

Matthew: Over time things always change in university buildings, but particularly in research labs. Obviously there are different research groups that come and go, and they need to be able to expand and contract depending on their size and the nature of the space.

The university did all the background work to understand the users’ needs and how they might change in the future. They then briefed us quite extensively and on the probable requirements for future allowances to services and spaces.

Charles Perkins Centre Day One of teaching 6 February 2014

Research and teaching spaces enhanced by technology

This was a really important process in terms of forecasting what space allocations we would need to make and helped us to future proof, particularly for new or additional services. It was a similar case with the technology. To anticipate and accommodate future change we designed flexible mobile benching and made allowances for the occupants to be able to insert new fume cupboards in the building for example.

But probably the most important tool for future proofing was taking the brief from the client and then translating that into a BIM model. The integration and power of BIM is really useful not only in terms of design, coordination and construction of research facilities but for facility management in the future.

Matthew Todd and Dr Ian Garthwaite and will be further exploring the lessons learned from the highly collaborative environment designed and fostered at the Charles Perkins Centre at Research Facilities Design and Development 2015.

For more information download the brochure here or visit www.researchfacilities.com.au 

How Monash University is attracting world-class researchers & dollars through collaboration and strategic partnerships

Times are changing for the higher education sector in Australia. Due to budget cuts and increasing international competition, many universities are recognising the importance of developing state of the art research facilities in order to attract funding opportunities, more students and world-class researchers into the future.

In order to achieve this, the design, construction, operation and maintenance of innovative research facilities is critical.

Monash University is one institution who knows what it takes to design and develop world-class research facilities in order to attract more dollars for their business.

With a net research income of 314 million dollars at the end of 2014, Monash topped the NHMRC funding across Australia last year and continues to partner with external providers such as Pfizer and Siemens in order to attract leading researchers globally.

Ahead of Research Facility Design and Development 2015, Julie Rothacker, Director, Platform Operations and Strategy, Vice-Provost Office of Research and Research Infrastructure at Monash, explores the strategies the university is using to align research needs with design and construction of their facilities, and how other universities can avoid mistakes in planning and development phases to deliver functional and sustainable research facilities.

Overview: Monash’s research facilities at a glance

Monash is home to 24 technology research facilities and currently employs over 3500 academic researchers. The University has developed a coordinated infrastructure strategy which is centrally supported and aligned with the University’s overall research strategy in order to utilise equipment to its full capacity.

The main objective is to ensure we are able to provide world-class research facilities to our researchers, collaborators and industry. In doing so, we have built facilities with peak instrumentation, often unique to Australia.  We have lifted the instrumentation out of the schools and departments to coordinate and manage effectively in a platform facility. This ensures there is no duplication with equipment, an ability to produce clear efficiency gains and that our equipment is well maintained and not under-utilised.

Over the years, there has been a significant investment by Monash, local and Federal governments and philanthropic organisations to build a suite of high-end technology research platforms. Due to this level of investment and commitment by external funding agencies to support Monash University we must ensure we’re getting the best use out of our infrastructure and equipment and that these facilities are easily accessible.

One way we are achieving this is by developing a platform strategy which revolves around setting up core facilities, each with their own dedicated manager, clear KPI’s and governance structures.

The 24 technology research platforms are available for researchers from both academia and industry. Putting a manager in charge of each platform allows additional operational support and ensures equipment is well maintained and used to its full potential.

The research facilities vary from supporting research in the drug discovery pipeline, advanced manufacturing, sustainability or medtech. For example: genomics, aerodynamic measurements in a wind tunnel, 3D printing, protein crystallisation or 3D visualization to name a few.

Partnering with internal and external players to attract more research dollars

At Monash the technology research platforms are underpinning key internal and external research collaborations where the design and construction of our facilities is critical to ensure the best performance of our technology. The Pfizer Centre for Therapeutic Innovations is a unique model for building academic and industry collaboration and has developed due to the researchers being able to be innovative and compete on the international stage.

By being part of this collaboration, we’re allowing researchers to answer that big question or develop their research to a point where companies can commercialise it and look into translating it into new medicines or innovative outcomes.

The role the research facility plays is to provide the equipment and technology needed to enable researchers to answer big questions, and eventually partner and collaborate with big organisations like Pfizer.

One of our main aims is to ensure we are giving our researchers the latest technology which meets their needs and it’s a big factor in how we develop our research facilities.

Another example of where we partner externally to build our facilities is through a big focus on technology. We have a number of examples where we have developed strategic partnerships with companies such as Siemens, Perkin Elmer, Tecan or FEI.

As part of these partnerships we don’t focus on getting the cheapest equipment but rather at building long term partnerships which will help us not only build capacity, but also provide a win for the company we’re partnering with.

Another important element of developing strategic partnerships is involving the researchers in the process. At Monash we encourage researchers to push the development of the technology, so we can go to a certain company and work with them to develop technology based on interesting research questions.

The great thing about strategic partnerships is the ability to work with external companies on research technology development, and often as a result our partners will help us always have the latest technology available to ensure our researchers stay at the cutting edge.

Monash has also recently joined the Victorian Platform Technology Network’s initiative, the Australian Research Infrastructure Network (ARIN) which is an online instrument and services booking software.  Ensuring these platform facilities are easily accessible by academic researchers and industry customers is critical for the success and development of our research facilities. The benefit is being able to show key stakeholders that anyone can access our research platforms which will ensure our customers can ultimately achieve great research outcomes, impact and improved societal behaviours.

The differentiator for the ARIN is the ability to integrate all technology research platforms across institutions in Victoria. By implementing ARIN widely across Monash, a researcher from any research organisation or industry can access our equipment from one login. They also have the ability to access infrastructure from other Victorian research organisations like CSIRO, RMIT and Swinburne. This has enormous impact because it’s getting the whole industry involved in research, but also providing opportunities for collaboration with other universities and partners which helps deliver greater impact to the community.

Download the full article here to read more about how Monash is:

  • Procuring the right tech and putting the researchers’ needs first
  • Avoiding mistakes in planning and design to build functional and flexible facilities
  • attracting world-class researchers

For more information about Research Facilities Design and Development 2015, visit www.researchfacilities.com.au or call +61 2 9229 1000 or email enquire@iqpc.com.au