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Pod Room Takes Off

Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Stable has officially opened the University's latest exciting formal teaching space, known as the ‘Pod Room’, designed to facilitate interactivity, teamwork, and sociability among students.

Named as a result of its pod, or kidney-shaped, group work desks, the Pod Room provides a formal teaching space that gives students the ability to work together and collectively solve problems, suiting classes that have a strong group-work component.

Associate Professor Marcus Randall, who oversaw the construction of the room, said each pod naturally allows a team of students to work cooperatively on solving a problem.

"Essentially, the room consists of five pods, each with a large group table, chairs, and computer system, where a small group of between four and seven students can work," he said.

"The teacher controls the display system of all pods via a switching system, allowing students in all pods to see either the same view (either from the teacher’s station or another pod), or their own view - considerably enhancing the teacher’s role as a facilitator of learning.

"The room also has informal breakout capacity in the form of a number of large ottomans which can be pushed into any configuration to allow groups to talk with one another, away from the pod area.

"The technology is an integral, yet not overwhelming, part of the pod room. It has been designed to blend in as part of the learning process, in many ways hiding the fact that the pod room is a very technologically sophisticated room," Dr Randall said.

Some of the technological features of the Master Pod, which is the facilitator’s workspace and is used to control the entire room, include a touch screen control panel, two wide-screen projectors, image switching capability, a document camera, DVD player and touch pen that can be used as a mouse or annotation tool.

The individual pods have their own network-enabled computer system with two 19 inch flat screen monitors, external AV and computer input devices and lighting controls.

The ‘Pod Room’ will also be the focus of a research project led by Dr Randall and Associate Professor Gail Wilson, with a pilot study involving five teachers from different disciplines already underway.

Ms Wilson said the project involves observation of classes conducted in the new teaching space, teacher interviews, an end-of-semester questionnaire and student focus groups.

"The project is also supported by an iLearn community website, and teachers have been asked to report their ideas and issues that arise from their use of the room progressively on a blog site within this iLearn site," Ms Wilson said.

"The aim of the project is to examine good practice in the use of the room and for Teaching and Learning Services to be able to support blended learning pedagogies associated with the use of this new learning space.

"If Bond is to expand its suite of rooms such as this one, we need to know how best to use them, and teachers need support to be able to use them in the best possible way," she said.

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