Never assume…. that the idea you have had (that you think is ‘obvious’) is obvious to everybody!

Posted on May 19, 2011

This was a lesson that was reinforced yesterday, during an exchange of tweets, allow me to explain.

Over the next few years my Organisations is planning to relocate its ‘Training Centre’ (don’t blame me for the name) to a new building. I had a few ideas that I thought might be of benefit during the initial planning/design stages.

Here is an extract from an email that I sent to the building area owner yesterday:

I am aware that the current Training Centre will be relocated to the ‘new building’ at some point in the future and I have some ideas that you may be interested in.

 

  • Lose the ICT suite. This only serves to isolate technology from current learning activities as opposed to embedding it within them. It also stands empty for the majority of the time, which is a waste of space and resources. IT access could still be gained by……

 

  • Provide netbooks/laptops to each learner attending events. These can be kept in purpose built storage/charging trolleys. Coupled with a WiFi connection this will allow learners to connect to the outside world as opposed to relying solely on the knowledge that is being shared amongst the facilitator/delegates, a great example of social constructivism. A modern approach to learning which fits with a modern building.

 

  • I have also made contact with Professor Stephen Heppell from Bournemouth University who has done some amazing work in redesigning physical learning spaces, most recently for Air Traffic Control training who I know would be able to consult with us.

 

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you require any further clarification on any of these points.

Once I had sent that email, I thought I’d send this tweet

Just contacted L&D team to suggest they 'lose' the ICT suite when the new building is built and provide laptop/netbooks to learners + WiFi.
@CraigTaylor74
Craig Taylor

Which resulted in these tweets in response

@ revolutionary. Brings a whole new meaning to 'get out of the classroom'
@DHL66
Denise Hudson Lawson
No classroom? RT @: Just contacted L&D team to suggest they 'lose' the ICT suite & provide laptop/netbooks to learners + WiFi.
@cfidurauk
Christie Fidura

So I thought it might be a good idea to clarify what I meant from my initial tweet and email.

We currently have 3 x training rooms, 2 of which are ‘conventional’ rooms and 1 that is a dedicated ICT Suite

Students PCs

This ICT suite stands empty for approx 95% of the time as truth be told we don’t actually deliver a lot of IT systems training, of course when we do, we need a suitable area in which to deliver it.

We also have a couple of conventional rooms

Projector set up

in which non-IT training takes place and are usually utilised day-in and day-out.

My suggestion of allowing the conventional rooms to absorb the ICT is based upon the following:

  • As the ICT suite is unused for the majority of the time, it is a waste of not only resources (not least of which is the physical space itself), which is unable to be easily repurposed for other events.
  • The separation from IT and the internet from the conventional training rooms, I believe, exacerbates the opinion that learning and IT are separate from one another, a view that I suspect you Dear Reader do not share?
  • By providing 15-20 laptops/netbooks per room with a WiFi connection (stored in one of those storage/charging trolleys) every room could be quickly repurposed into an ICT suite whenever needed.
  • Most exciting of all however, is the fact that when you place 10 learners and a facilitator into a room you are relying on 11 people’s accumulated knowledge on a given subject. Provide each learner with an organisation approved, WiFi enabled device and all of a sudden that 11 people’s knowledge is now supplemented by access to the internet. Learners can start to realise that learning and personal development need no longer solely rely upon a formal event and a ‘sage on the stage’. Digital literacies can start to be formed and refined.

No cost to the learner in terms of data charges from personal devices, no exclusion based upon the learner being unable to afford a personal device, no waste of physical space by allowing an ICT suite to stand empty, further embedding of learning technologies into what many people consider face-to-face activities.

So what do you think?

Is this another one of my pipe dreams or does it have legs?

Would this work in your organisation?

Why not share your thoughts in the comments box below?

11 Comments

  1. Craig, I think that’s an absolutely brilliant idea. We spend so much time talking about the learning itself and the learners themselves that the surroundings often get over-looked! And maybe in these times where we all need to make our resources as cost effective as possible, it just might have legs…

    • Hi Kate,

      Thanks for taking the time to respond. I absolutely agree about the need to make our resources as effective as possible and that it certainly one of the factors that I will be pushing. However, for me the real benefit is the ability for learners to reach out beyond the confines of the physical room and seek out the answers for themselves.

      There is a great story of a retired Naval Admiral who every year attended a US naval academy to lecture on the naval strategy in the Korean conflict, in which he served. During one lecture he stated that there were xyz number of ships off the coast, a few seconds later a recruit officer corrected him and stated that there were actually abc number of ships off the coast, information which he had gleaned and verified from the internet connected laptop in front of him!

      Fair play to the retired Admiral, who returned next year to do the same lecture but this time asked the recruits to source the details for themselves via their devices!

      Who am I kidding that they’ll take my idea onboard, but hey-ho, it was good blog post material.

      😉

  2. Craig, good blog post. I wonder if you were invited to have a say prior to your sharing your good idea and whether or not you got any buy-in…a reply and acknowledgment at least.
    Your suggestion makes complete sense and I’d have thought the added value you’ve laid out to the organisation would be seriously considered. Better still to have communicated the ins and outs in a face to face would have been even better.
    At the law firm I worked for, it wasn’t until I stumbled into a group of colleagues – project manager, architect and it support in the training room one morning that I even found out the training room was to be reconfigured to allow increased office space. I wasn’t even going to be consulted and fortunately got in just in time. I drew out a diagram of my idea – 2 rooms for the price of 1 and that both could be used for the organisation generally not just IT Training – and sold the benefits to the boss and the project manager, who saw the benefits too and so my plan went ahead. I felt really validated and the response from the business was very positive once all the work was finished and both rooms became operational.

    I’m intrigued to know if any part of your idea was taken on board by your organisation.
    Mandy

  3. Great stuff Craig, and you have inspired me to follow your post up with one contextualised in schools. It’s here at: http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com/2011/05/misplaced-ict.html – I say much the same thing, but also argue that ICT is not and never will be a subject in its own right. It’s as you suggest, a set of tools that should be embedded across and within programmes of study.

  4. Hi Craig.

    As you know my focus is IT Training and whilst many years back the thought of losing the ICT suite would have horrified me this is definitely no longer the case. We originally had 10 dedicated ICT suites across the UK and now have just four which are used upto 20% of the time for IT Training. Outside of this they are mainly used for user acceptance testing, our own team meetings and for other meetings where participants need access to online content and/or our video conferencing facilities.

    Even though we still have four ICT suites, I can see this number reducing even further in the coming year. We have two mobile packs consisting of laptops that fit neatly into a trolley case, can be thrown (I mean gently placed) into the back of the boot, wheeled to any location and rigged up on an as needed, where needed basis. This is working well for us and gives us lots of flexibility to deliver the required training where the learners need it rather than always telling them that we need to deliver it from a fixed site.

    Over 60% of our IT trainers delivery is now virtual with learners joining sessions from their own PCs/laptops so the need for permanent setups in every location where training might take place has long gone (for us anyway).

    ….sooooo…in answer to your original question – I don’t believe its a pipe dream, your idea has legs with big fat nobbly knees!!

    Good luck getting buy in!

    Lisa

  5. Hi mandyrg Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post. To date, I have not had any considered response to my suggestion, however to be fair it was only sent to them last week so I suppose that’s to be expected (although I haven’t received any acknowledgement either).

    I agree that a f2f suggestion would have been preferable to an email, however the building owner is one of the Directors and as such is not one of the easiest people to get f2f time with, however it is my hope that the email can act as ‘seed’ which will hopefully germinate prior to our next physical meeting.

    Your experience of providing a ‘multi’ purpose room echoes the underpinning resource-saving suggestion that I am making in terms of our ICT suite sitting empty most of the time due to it’s fixed layout.

    I’ll keep you updated as to whether by suggestions gains any traction.

    Thanks again for the response, see you online.

    Craig

  6. HI timbuckteeth Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. I always find that for posts such as these where I am personally stepping into new ground and new thinking I am slightly reticent at putting myself ‘out there’, so for somebody such as yourself to not only respond, but to agree *and* reference my post in your own blog is a great confidence booster – thank you.

  7. Craig, this is quite timely for me as instructor of basic tech, info lit, what some call ICT digital literacy 🙂 etc. Our campus (U.S. state university) is in early-ish planning for a new building and the nature/extent of computer lab space is a hot topic. My input so far is that a space such as your ICT Suite is soooo 1980s for so many reasons including that it locks down the pedagogy and under-utilizes the space. I get to say this (tactfully, let us hope) face-to-face with the architects very soon.

    P.S. Saw this via Steve Wheeler retweet so you can keep thanking him. 🙂

  8. Craig, I am fortunate to be teaching in a brand new senior secondary school here in Auckland New Zealand. It has been built with no “classrooms” – we have learning pods, specialist rooms ( Drama, art, tech, science labs etc) and common spaces where the majority of the learning takes place. This is also where all of our ICT is – we have a mixture of Macs for specialist programmes and thin clients for general use – the students can use the computers whenever they need them – the space is usually shared by two or more subjects at a time. We also have wireless that everyone on site can access so students can bring their own devices. We decided not to go with the netbook idea because most of our students have internet capable cell phones they can use and there is rarely a time when every student needs to be on a computer at the same time. There is no charge for accessing the network and the risk is really low because we are using google for storage. We believe that technology should be used when, where and how it is needed and that there needs to be a balance, text books and libraries are still relevant and useful. We have presentation rooms set up for data shows and a theatre that doubles as an auditorium for the delivery of large tutorials. So far this approach has resulted in a far greater integrated curriculum and transparent learning.

  9. @TuppyMagic Hi tuppymagic Thanks for taking the time to reply. I must admit that I did pause to consider the effect that this would have on those responsible for delivering IT skills as opposed to those using IT skills to enhance another subject, so I am pleased that somebody such as yourself who has many years experience in delivering IT training do not consider my proposal to be detrimental to the subject.

    You mention that you are currently using a mobile IT classroom set up which you can transport around with you…. why not take some photos and make a blog post around it?

    I’m sure that there are others who would benefit from an insight into how you manage to deliver this type of training.

  10. @harmonygritz Sounds like we are both fortunate to be able to shape a learning space ahead of its actual existence as opposed to ‘after the fact, an enviable position to be in 🙂 Please do keep me updated as to how you get on with this project. And you’re quite right, that’s another beer I owe @timbuckteeth

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