The following list is a compilation of tactical techniques and methods in the planning, operations and evaluations of technology in learning spaces. When considering technology for learning spaces, it is important to first think in terms of the activities that need to be supported, rather than the glamorous aspects of the technology itself.
- Start out by gathering all pre-existing documents and information that would help you understand the current state and upcoming plans by your institution.
- Conduct desktop research and field trips, when necessary, to study precedents implemented by peers or new technology offered by vendors. However, be sure to be critical and make your own judgment on the level of success – You do not want to be copying already-old examples directly.
Planning and Implementation
- Create a worksheet to outline the vision and user needs as well as a tracking sheet for the budget. Periodically check-back to ensure the project is not drifting away from its intended course.
- Establish partnerships with internal and external specialist experts – Instructional technology expert within your organization and vendors/consultants as necessary – to best achieve the objectives.
- Consider good A/S reputation and warranty length as part of the hardware selection criteria. Select business-class machinery and devices from well-established vendors with a long warranty service history. Buy warranties equivalent to your established refresh cycles, minus one year.
- Ensure the specifications and requirements are properly translated through the various stages of planning, design and implementation. When the time comes to build- or fit-out the spaces with technology, pay attention to the details of the specs and don’t be shy to question the designer/vendor/consultant when clarification is necessary.
- Build a 20% contingency to the budget for unexpected cost resulting from resolving issues, change orders and purchasing additional accessories. While it’s desirable to avoid detours, it’s not uncommon to see costs exceeding budgets towards the end of a project due to various issues or shifting needs.
Operations, Evaluation and Sustainability
- Assess if you need to train/retrain and/or hire new staff. With today’s rapid advancement of technology, it is critical to set aside a training budget to aid staff keeping up with current knowledge.
- When rolling out sophisticated technology at mass quantities, be sure to pilot it first and get user feedback. If possible, pilot multiple products from different vendors, as moderate competition would drive vendors to provide solutions that better aligns with the needs of the users.
- Collect user feedback in an ongoing way through various techniques including, online surveys, interviews, observations and focus groups (see Needs Assessment section). If possible, carry out evaluations holistically, coordinated with other areas of disciplines (Public Services, Facilities etc).