Case Study:

Newcastle University Herschel Learning Lab

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The Modern Day Lecture Theatre – Herschel Learning Lab


Keen to move away from the traditional pedagogies used in standard lecture theatres, Newcastle University wanted to develop an innovative learning space that encouraged collaborative activities for students in small groups to work on a variety of tasks including, problem solving and preparation of presentations, all of which could be facilitated by ICT.

A working party was set up to guide the planning of the new flat floor space at the University, to reflect the diverse requirements of the broader stakeholder group, as part of the Research and Development for this project. The working party discussed what teaching and learning activities might happen in this new space, what was needed in order to facilitate this and what group size and room capacity issues there might be. They identified a requirement for tables that would seat groups of students with screens either mounted or free standing to ensure flexibility, which could also be controlled by the lecturer from a central point.

The Solution

Newcastle University had successfully worked with Universal AV Services and Dalen TOP-TEC on a number of projects and were confident that the two would provide a cost effective solution that met their requirements and solved their challenges.

The Herschel Learning Lab is an innovative learning space that is used for collaborative activities in which students work together in small groups on a variety of tasks. Each group station will have AV facilities to support the collaborative activities and also be controllable from a ‘master’ teaching position. Content displayed on the master position can be pushed out to all collaborative desks and the ability for local content to be displayed back via the master is to be included as part of the solution. Annotation and Picture in Picture facility have also been included as options within the specification.

Services Provided:

Planning and Installation

Universal worked with Top Tec and the University to co-ordinate works and ensure disruption was kept to a minimum. Project plans were put in place with the greatest challenge being to ensure the manufacture of the tables was achieved in time for the solution to arrive and all AV integrated at the same time. A rolling program was developed and the project was completed on time and within budget.

The original installation was carried out by Universal AV in 2015 and was updated in 2017. All of the original NEC screens have now been updated to 16 x NEC V554 LCD 55″ Large Format Displays.

The system was also re-programmed, greatly increasing the flexibility of the lab. The screens switch much quicker between sources than they did before. This greatly improves the user experience.

Benefits of a Versatile/Collaborative Space:
• Variety of sizes and seating groups
• Multi-functional
• Promotes group focus, collaboration and engagement
• Ideal for technology, enhanced learning environments
• Shown to increase attainment levels in education

The Modern Day Lecture Theatre – Herschel Learning Lab

“Comment “We see the Herschel Learning Lab as the future of teaching and learning. Synergy tables support a variety of teaching styles and methodologies providing greater pedagogical flexibility than standard lecture spaces. By using technology integrated furniture we can create an improved, immersive and interactive way of teaching and learning that increases academic engagement and ultimately enhances the student experience.””

Colin Fahey AV Team Leader

Newcastle University

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