At the University of Basel a very interesting and important project is run. The project is called ITSI, which stands for Integrating IT-Services in Teaching and Learning. The first phase of the project aimed at finding out how IT-technology was used in learning and teaching and which improvements were desired. The most important findings were that today’s technologies do not make the physical university campus obsolete. On the contrary, the campus becomes more important for learning, because learning is not restricted anymore to a specific, mostly private room. Further, we should stop talking about e-learning, because we cannot separate e-learning and learning anymore. E-learning is now an integral part of learning. Thus we have to design the campus in a way that supports the growing together of the physical and virtual learning environment.
Based on the findings of the first phase, the now starting second phase aims at drafting a concept for such a modern learning environment. The project team has identified five kinds of metaphorical spaces that yield to the modern learning environment.
- Teaching spaces: This is where teachers and students meet for formal courses, be it a classical lecture or a working-group or other kinds of courses.
- Learning spaces: This is where students learn individually or in groups. Thus this space has to be deigned according to the demands of students. Taken into consideration the intended shift from teaching to learning this space becomes more and more important as an integral part of a university campus.
- Exam Center: This is, of course, where the assessment, i.e. the students’ performances in order to get the credit points take place.
- Inter spaces: This space comprises facilities such as a cafeteria, a park or a gym. It is a space where students and faculty encounter without engaging in one of the mentioned teaching or learning activities.
- Lab: This is the space to experiment with new technologies, to try out new forms of teaching and learning and to develop them.
There will be a workshop for each of these spaces where experts, faculty and students discuss how the respective space should be designed in order to satisfy the needs for teaching and learning tomorrow. I will keep you posted about the workshops.
In the end, the project relates to Shelli’s statement that we have to know who our present and future students are. As a higher education institution, we cannot ignore how technology changes our lives, our relation to knowledge and the way how we learn. These developments happen whether we like it or not. Thus, we must deal with them actively in order to design tomorrow’s university for tomorrow’s students today.