Technology & digital

Visitors at the launch of the Study Space, Manchester Museum Photo Alan Seabright for Manchester Museum
Visitors at the launch of the Study Space, Manchester Museum Photo Alan Seabright for Manchester Museum

It is important to consider the role of technology and digital resources in your learning programme.

Increasingly, learning environments are less about providing hardware, and more about ensuring sufficient bandwidth and access to power for mobile devices.

Many visitors already bring their own browser in the form of tablets or smart phones, and pupils will have increasing access to these. Some sites may wish to restrict the range of external websites that those connected can access. In the short term it may be necessary to provide some hardware – for example, tablets for use with schools – but this should not be the assumption.

The key will be providing Internet access and power.

If you have them, consult your in-house digital expert(s) about how much bandwidth you will need, and the design and selection of AV equipment for the space. Make sure that all learning staff know how to use any equipment in the space, rather than relying on AV staff or just one member of your team.

Wi-Fi

Learning rooms may need to provide sufficient Wi-Fi bandwidth for concurrent use by a group of 30, and enough plug points.  Consider if you need a seperate Wi-Fi for your learning space.

There should be very clear instructions on how to join the Wi-Fi if groups are bringing their own devices. For example you could put up signs with the network and password in the learning space. Groups could also be sent the network and password with their booking details.  If you are using browsers or online resources in sessions time to join the Wi-Fi should be factored into planning.

Hardware

It is impossible to truly future-proof in terms of IT, as technology moves so quickly. Instead, assume that equipment will have a relatively short life-span. Build in the expectation that you will want to change hardware, possibly several times, within the lifetime of any space.

Projectors should be accessible to staff – they shouldn’t have to clamber on chairs to get to them. Remotes should be clearly labelled and kept in a safe place, with spare batteries.

Large plasma screens can be a great resource and in some schools have replaced projectors as the price for plasma screens fall. They can be fixed onto a wall in your learning space or they can be on wheeled stands so they can be used in more than one learning space or positioned in different areas of a room.

Secure storage

If you have equipment like tablets plan for how you will store and charge them. You might want secure storage in your spaces with built in charging stations or plug points.