Classrooms on the fly

26 August 2014 | Story by Newsroom

Construction delays to the new Teaching and Learning Building (TLB) '“ due to host lectures in the third term '“ meant that classrooms were needed to accommodate lectures scheduled to take place in the new building this term.

Numerous role players, including representatives from Properties & Services (P&S), ICTS's Classroom Support Services (CSS), the UCT Sports Centre and the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment, met to work out a way of minimising teaching disruptions until TLB's new classrooms are ready for use.

Although P&S's venue bookings office shifted some lectures to alternate classrooms, most classrooms were booked out and there was still a shortfall. The solution was to install 'temporary classrooms', with the New Engineering Building foyer hosting some tutorials, and with Sports Centres 1 and 3 accommodating the bulk of lectures.

Build '“ break '“ repeat

Every day since the start of term a dedicated team of people has diligently created a classroom out of a sports court (pictured above). The work begins at 08h00 when Supercare staff lay out 135 desks and chairs in each 'classroom', while CSS sets up the audio-visual environment. Within 30 minutes, the space is transformed into a hub of learning '“ including mobile writing surfaces, a data projector and a PA system.

As the Sports Centre is in constant demand '“ especially during the meridian and after hours '“ the classroom equipment is packed away before lunch time and then rebuilt again in time for afternoon lectures, only to be broken down again at the end of the day and rebuilt in the morning.

Despite the demanding cycle of breaking and building these classrooms every day, the newly-formed CSS team still fulfils its mandate to support teaching and learning to the best of its ability. Roshan Harneker, ICTS's Educational Technology Services Manager, says she is "extremely proud of the team's continued dedication to getting the job done as efficiently and professionally as possible '“ especially in the face of such an unusual challenge".

Lecturers have commented on the flexibility of the classroom setup '“ with more desk space per student and the ease of rearranging furniture.

Mission accomplished

While temporary classrooms are far from ideal, most stakeholders agree that the solution has worked well. Lecturers have praised the efforts of all the teams who accommodate their needs and provide the necessary equipment.

Dr Pieter Levecque, a senior lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering, praised the reliability of the setup, saying: "Everything is always there and in working order...which only indicates the excellent work that goes on and has been going on in the background by P&S and CSS."

Students also seem to have adapted to the changes, with some even managing to fit a game of football into the gaps between classes.

The organisers report that the co-operation between the different teams has been a success. P&S Systems Manager Belmira Carreno says: "When people work together towards a common goal, a synergy is created that has the ability to attain uncommon results."

Story by Yacoob Manjoo. Image by Je'nine May.

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