In the past, when it came to libraries, one size usually fitted. They provided the same offering regardless of whether you were a first year undergraduate or a finalist, a novice teacher or a seasoned researcher.
In recent years, the University of Warwick Library has started to take a more segmented approach and developed services, spaces and support to meet the specific needs of different customer communities.
One of our most successful ventures has been the award-winning Learning Grid, a dynamic, flexible learning environment aimed specifically at undergraduates and taught postgraduates. This has proved popular with students and has been coveted by teaching staff. Indeed, one academic visitor remarked:
What we need is a Teaching Grid
As part of the £3.4m remodelling of the Main Library we have tried to fulfil this wish. Opened in March 2008, the Teaching Grid service was established to provide accessible, collaborative support for all staff involved in teaching or training practice at the University of Warwick. Working in collaboration with key university partners - the Learning and Development Centre, IATL, IT Services and Student Careers and Skills - the Teaching Grid furthers the University strategy to develop outstanding and innovative teaching at Warwick.
What the service provides
- a Collaboration Area - a space for the teaching community to meet and discuss ideas, run teaching-focused workshops and explore how they could make creative use of space and technology to support their teaching
- an Experimental Teaching Space - a highly flexible space in which to try out new teaching ideas
- Window on Teaching - peer led sessions that disseminate best practice in Teaching & Learning
- Warwick Innovative Teaching database - a searchable collection of case studies, video and articles that disseminate best practice in Teaching & Learning
- Access to the latest in teaching technology
Why is it successful?
The space is highly configurable with movable glass panels and curtains as well as lightweight furniture: it supports both imaginative teaching scenarios as well as more traditional teaching methods.
To support teaching enhancement and delivery available resources include wireless data projection, interactive whiteboards, video equipment, laptops, tablets and a host of other technology.
Provided by Teaching Grid Advisers and a full range of campus support agencies, support is available for anyone who may wish to discuss and try out new ideas and technologies before applying them in the classroom.
What's been happening in the Teaching Grid?
A varied programme of developmental workshops, courses and events have taken place in the Teaching Grid, these include:
- an annual University wide Teaching & Learning Showcase to encourage the development of e-teaching practices by sharing existing good practice
- workshops offering information and advice on course design
- a series of courses exploring online learning
- drop-in sessions with partner organisations
- a diverse range of Teaching & Learning activities in the Experimental Teaching Space
What feedback has been received?
Staff who have run sessions in the Experimental Teaching Space have reported that it has supported them to:
- experiment with new ways of using technology to support their teaching including the use of multimedia and online resources
- offer students a practical workshop with the opportunity to work collaboratively as part of a small group
- explore a variety of revision strategies including research tasks, drama activities and presentations with the opportunity for peer review
- use the space flexibly to offer a choice of simultaneous activities or direct the focus of a particular session
The facility has proved beneficial for teaching staff (at all levels and at various points in their careers), support agencies (providing them with a centrally-located, technology-rich arena in which to showcase their support) and of course the students themselves.
What do the customers say?
It just allowed me to [do it] in a slightly richer and more resourced way than I would do normally because of the different spaces and the multi projection.
It has demonstrated that by thinking more carefully about the use of space and the roles of the students it is possible to encourage a more interactive and student-led approach to learning
The space encouraged students to take control of the seminar. Students appeared happier to ask questions of the tutor (and each other) in this environment rather than always responding to questions from above.
Want to find out more? Warwick customers can email us: teachinggrid at warwick dot ac dot uk for a Teaching Grid induction.