teaching and learning commons (TLC) services and facilities

TEACHING AND LEARNING COMMONS (TLC)

Introduction

The Teaching and Learning Commons brings together technology, content, and various staff and student services including creating and developing a vibrant knowledge management resource database in a physical space to service needs of Education students and staff.

The TLC is an ecosystem of technology, students, expertise, physical space, equipment, manuals, and specific skills development that are freely accessible to all students in order to improve their teaching and learning. The services offered by the TLC are in support of student learning in an integrated manner to enhance the quality of student learning and understanding in the teaching profession.

The TLC learning hub integrates technology, information, and expertise in order to strengthen student learning, teaching practice and skills by assisting undergraduate work. The Commons aims at providing learning opportunities through peers, discussion forums, a reading area and resource materials development, design and production.

In the learning commons students can perform a wide range of technology and information-related activities in spaces that are conducive to individual and group work. The technology in the TLC is intentionally more pervasive with its objective being the use of data for developing presentations with the assistance of technology and consultation with experienced staff.

Enabling Student Work

Students spend much of their time learning outside classrooms by reading, exploring, creating, and communicating. The TLC creates an environment that nurtures these activities by providing content in a variety of formats and technologies that might not be affordable to individual students for practice. The space within the Commons has been structured to encourage collaboration and interaction. Through the evolution of the commons and its usage the intended aim is to enhance student learning and scholarship by creating communities of practice.

Outside the classroom, students extend their understanding of the basic course concepts and make the learning their own by investigating a topic and producing a product that integrates it with the content of the course. In providing an environment for our students in doing this type of work engages students in their coursework, discipline and professional development.

Specific designated Work and Group Spaces

The TLC provides an environment for students to enhance their learning outside the formal lecture room. The learning spaces are both academic and social, and this is good for their professional development as it fosters a sense of community on campus. The TLC has specially designed carrels for individual work, use of wireless laptops, discussion forums, resource design and production and reading space in a relaxed environment.

The TLC facility has formal and informal spaces, including an Education Technology Laboratory. It is a critical space on campus for students to meet for out of lecture collaboration and discussion. In the TLC, much of the space is configured for use by small groups and it thus promotes collaborative learning and combining social interaction with work. It also gives students an opportunity to engage in reflective practice.

The technology laboratory space is the TLC’s “practice presentation room” set aside for information literacy, instruction programme and student practice in use of technologies in their teaching. The TLC will probably also draw on the talents of students to deliver services in this laboratory. The Commons provides support for an increased emphasis on teamwork, both in and outside higher education. Student can rehearse the presentation in the specially designed “practice presentation room” set up with an OHP, data projector, DVD player and screen, and chairs for an audience of friends who can critique the presentation. For projects like these, students need access to hardware, software, print and digital content. Assistance from individuals with a broad range of expertise is available. For group use we have varying furniture configurations to support different modes of use. A variety of mix of desk-style furniture and soft, comfortable seating inside the commons gives an ambience for student to work in.

The TLC has a 30 seater diner-style seating within its foyer with a large a display screen that will feature news from around the world and report on real events affecting the educational landscape. From time to time educational documentaries will be broadcast.

Services
The TLC advocates the application of technology enhanced teaching and learning to all staff and students. TLC will provide and promote the continuous professional learning (CPL) of all staff and students. TLC will also offer support to  staff that have an interest in developing new curricular materials and teaching resources. The overall goal of the TLC is to improve services to the campus community by offering a seamless environment that supports the way people work.

The TLC service will comprise a complex mix of high and low technology services. These are clustered around six nodes of service.
1. Curriculum Materials development space, technologies and skills training
2. Repackaging information and dissemination
4. Networking
5. Technology enhanced teaching and learning
6. Co-ordinate staff development and training with other University structures (eg. ICT, UTLO etc) and outside stakeholders (HESA, CHE, DoBE, DoHE)
• The TLC streams information from various sources and forward articles, news, policy documents, etc, that is relevant to higher education best practices.
• For teaching purposes we offer services in designing and developing teaching & learning materials, Format Conversions, Transparency and Power Point production.
• Power point presentations that can be accessed and downloaded from the TLC website
• Consultation in developing and designing appropriate resource materials for teaching and learning and software application.
• Specific programme support and consultation including developing e-portfolios for teaching.
• Supporting the undergraduate’s component in Classroom Technology, and Specific Skills development component and Classroom Technology for the post-graduate Certificate in Education.

As the TLC evolves in the future, professional development services for students and staff will also be coordinated through the TLC. The Commons will advocate and encourage “the opening up and opening out” of teaching and creates a chance for students to engage in public conversations and collaborations outside their formal lectures.

Wireless Access
Wireless access is available throughout the entire TLC allowing users to work online via their laptops.


Rishi Hansrajh (Head)                                                                                                                                                   
Ph:. 031 260 7281 Fax 7609
Office No. S202D
hansrajhr@ukzn.ac.za

Ajay Heeralal
Ph: 0312607232
Office No. S202
heeralalj@ukzn.ac.za
Web Site: http://talc.ukzn.ac.za   

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Contact Details:
College of Humanities, School of Education

Edgewood Campus
Private bag X03, ashwood 3605
Tel: +27 32 260 7281.7232 fax: +27 31 260 7609
Email: talc@ukzn.ac.za
Web: http://talc.ukzn.ac.za

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