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Handing the learning process to the students

Together with his colleagues at the Urban Futures Studio (Utrecht University), Jesse Hofman (post-doc researcher and lecturer) has developed a new course – Techniques of futuring – which is taught partly in the Teaching & Learning Lab. He is especially enthusiastic about the flexibility of the room, which allows for handing over the learning process to the students.

About the course

The course Techniques of futuring was an elective course for students in a number of master programmes at Geosciences and Governance, in which sixteen students participated. In the course, students cooperated with policy makers on questions such as “How do we deal with an uncertain future?” and “How do we work towards a society that no longer uses fossil energy?” In the end the students developed an exhibition about the Netherlands in 2040. So they worked independently on thinking up and designing their answers.

On Wednesdays the students met with the policy makers in The Hague, and on Fridays they worked in the TLL. Occasionally the TLL was used for a lecture or a workshop, but most of the time the students could use the TLL as their studio to think about and work on their scenarios and the exhibition.

TLL facilities used

During the course most use was made of the flexible furniture in the TLL, the various beamers, standing tables, drawing on the wall and the smartboard. Various different set-ups were used, varying from a classical one to group discussions and a design studio. During the design studion, students worked in groups on their projects. They were drawing, cutting, gluing, building interactive installations. The groups made flexible use of the space to create their own “workshop”.

Added value of the TLL over regular lecture rooms

For his course, Jesse wanted a way to activate students to work towards a societal intervention. The TLL helped to hand over the learning process to the students, because the TLL space stimulates users to break free from the regular framework. The TLL is an open, well-lit space, making it pleasant to work in, and it is playful, which stimulated creativity. Because there is no fixed set-up of tables and chairs, it is possible to work in all kinds of ways. You can let students draw on the wall, while other groups are watching, that is very useful. The flexibility of the space also invites the user to try something new. The smartboard is very handy, because you can for instance display multiple screens on it, and make notes. Both students and  lecturers actively used this option.

Jesse’s advice to other lecturers

Jesse would encourage everyone to use the TLL for lectures. The TLL space stimulates you to treat your subject in a more enjoyable and exciting way. In a way, the room draws you out of your default mode of teaching. Therefore he advises to really use the space the way you want to and to experiment with different working methods. It is also nice to involve your students in this. One thing that worked well was to not think out in advance how the room should look, but let the students arrange the furniture themselves. van lesgeven. Jesse raadt daarom aan om de ruimte echt te gebruiken zoals je dat zelf zou willen en te experimenteren met verschillende werkvormen. Het is ook leuk om hier je studenten in te betrekken. Wat bijvoorbeeld goed werkte was om niet van tevoren te bedenken hoe het lokaal eruit moest komen te zien, maar de studenten zelf de meubels te laten verplaatsen. Arranging the lecture room together with your students is also a simple way to bond.

Author: Miranda Overbeek (Freudenthal Institute)