If you thought the new UTS Central building was impressive, then you should check out its world-first large collaborative classroom. But how does this innovative new space work in practice? Last month, our learning and teaching community put it to the test at the first-ever Festival of Learning Design.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend, here’s some context.

These new large collaborative classrooms have been in the works for many years, designed in consultation with teaching staff in an attempt to ‘make large classes feel small’. Accommodating up to 350 students at one time, our new large collaborative classrooms (there are three in total) have no obvious ‘front’ of the room, a mindful decision to ‘design-out’ lecture-style teaching. Instead, they feature flexible group tables and multiple presenter points that will allow large classes to break into smaller zones for smaller-scale group work that can then be presented and discussed back to the full class.

The two-day festival was a chance for teaching staff across all faculties to experiment in one of these new spaces, to network and collaborate through a range of hands-on activities.

Classes officially kick-off in these new classes from Session 1 2020.

Watch the festival wrap-up

Attendee thoughts on the day

What will this new space mean for our students?

Because the room is non-linear we’re no longer looking from rear to front and I think this will be a big contributor to collaborative learning. For students who’re quite shy, I think the design will make it more comfortable for them – they don’t really need to be facing a ‘front’ and if they need to express an idea they don’t need to elevate their voice. It enables a multi-scaler learning experience, where you keep reverting from smaller round table discussion to the larger discussion, back and forth. I feel the space will enable more voices to be heard.

– Adam Hannouch, Casual academic, DAB.

What was your main takeaway from the festival?

I’ve really enjoyed meeting people from different disciplines and collaboratively working together on different activities. That’s so much more valuable than just networking. My favourite part of the space is the noise (well lack of it!). I can actually hear what people are saying next to me, irrespective of how many people are in the room.

– Elizabeth Smith, Learning Design and Technology Specialist, IML.

What did you get out of today’s session?

The space is exciting and manages to incorporate many aspects of collaboration. Personally I was really excited to see so many faculties come together and work in groups. I did a degree in BCII and that transdisciplinary approach is key to coming up with solutions to complex problems and it’s great to see this happening more throughout academia. It provides the opportunity to see different parts of the uni – to see what they can learn from or work together on. It stops us from becoming too siloed and focused on what we do know.

– Triston Teear, Casual academic, Science.

Festival photos

Learn more

Missed the day and want to learn more about these new spaces? Check out these stories.

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