New flexible classroom environment unveiled

27 February 2014 | Story by Newsroom

New UCT ClassroomIn with the new: One of the new classrooms renovated as part of the Classroom Renewal Project was unveiled on 12 February. From left Kira Chernotsky, director of customer service at ICTS, Assoc Prof Tessa Minter, chair of the Classroom Facilities Advisory Sub Committee, DVC Prof Sandra Kloppers, André Theys, executive director of Properties and Services, Prof Enrico Uliana executive director of finance), Izak Janse van Rensburg, ICTS executive director and Wayne Abrahamse from ICTS around one of the motorised lecterns. To view a video of the new lectern in action, click here.

While staff and students were off enjoying the holidays, a range of dedicated teams were busy upgrading classrooms around campus - preparing a flexible classroom environment that will become the new standard for over 170 teaching spaces at UCT.

The work forms part of the Classroom Renewal Project, which began more than a year ago and aims to bring all centrally-bookable classrooms up to an agreed standard in terms of physical facilities and audio-visual / information technology. The teams - led by ICTS - have worked with a number of partners to upgrade 15 classrooms at the medical, upper and middle campuses.

While the work included physical refurbishment - such as painting, carpeting and replacement of chairs - the most exciting developments focused on improving the teaching and learning experience. Document cameras and new data projectors were installed, teaching walls were reconfigured to provide flexible teaching options and a brand new, motorised UCT lectern was conceptualised and commissioned.

"Teaching and learning lie at the core of UCT's activities, and with this project we set out to improve those experiences by upgrading classrooms to a higher standard that maximises flexibility. We wanted to create classrooms conducive to as many different pedagogical approaches as possible," explained Kira Chernotsky, director of the customer services at ICTS, who leads the project.

The refurbished venues make up the first batch of classrooms that adhere to UCT's newly-introduced classroom standards. The standards were drawn up after in-depth research into classroom setups at both local and international universities, supplemented by useful feedback from UCT lecturers.

"By standardising the design, not only do we manage costs, but we provide a similar experience to lecturers irrespective of the classroom they teach in. Standardisation also means a reduction in complexity, which allows us to provide better support. This is key to delivering on the high standards of the service level agreement we've put in place for the new Classroom Support Services team in ICTS," she added.

The project operates under the guidance of the university's Classroom Facilities Advisory Sub- Committee, which monitors the state of classrooms at UCT, advises on strategies for classroom refurbishment and sets the design criteria for teaching spaces.

"A project this far-reaching isn't possible without the close co-operation and hard work of our colleagues on campus. We have worked closely with the Centre for Educational Technology (now the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching), Properties & Services, the Disability Service and members of the Classroom Facilities Advisory Sub-Committee and I look forward to continuing these successful partnerships as we carry on upgrading more classrooms over the next 4 years," concluded Chernotsky.

Major renovations and installations are scheduled for the mid-year and year-end vacations, in order to minimise disruptions to teaching during the term.

To learn more about the project, visit the The New UCT classroom.

Image by Raymond Botha.


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