Proposal for a staff development training room Julian Crowe, IT Services, Colin Mason, SALTIRE, Sandy Wilkie, Human Resources The three main providers of staff training (HR (Staff Development), SALTIRE and IT Services) are hampered in their work by the lack of a staff training room. It is increasingly difficult to get access to general teaching rooms and computer classrooms during the term, and in any case these rooms are often unsuitable. The University's demand for staff training is growing ever greater and we need the space as well as specific tools to deliver it as efficiently as possible. At present we are unable to provide external trainers, from other Universities or from commercial firms, with the facilities that they take for granted elsewhere, and this reflects badly on the University. The advantages of a dedicated staff training room are it can be made secure, permitting trainers to make preparations in advance of their courses computers would not need to be restricted like those in the open access computer classrooms; they could be made more like staff desktop computers, and special software could be loaded for specific classes staff training requirements would not compete for space with student teaching and conferences a congenial atmosphere could be created display equipment could be provided and kept in a state of readiness Proposed facilities 8-12 networked PCs/Macs with desks and chairs additional chairs, speaker's desk/lectern full range of display equipment: data and video projector, video player, screen, OHP, flipboard, whiteboard, 35mm slide projector modest refreshment facilities appropriate lighting and blinds I f this room is to meet the needs of all three units, the layout of the room will need to be highly flexible. Computer equipment will need to be easily stored, and trailing cables removed. Furniture should be modular and movable. Computers could be either laptops or compact PC "cubes" with flat screens. Wireless networking would make things still more flexible, but there are network cables to the rooms under consideration if wireless networking is deemed too expensive or problematic at this stage of development of the technology. The computers’ configuration should be made secure, but not in the way the classroom machines are secured. It must be possible to load and unload additional software, and a quick method of restoring the basic configuration should be provided. A mix of Macs and PCs may possibly be desirable, with the Macs running Virtual PC, so as to give greater flexibility. Location We have considered two possible locations: The current PC classroom in Swallowgate and the Modern Languages computer room on the first floor of United College building. At present staff training is sometimes delivered to larger groups than could be accommodated in either room. The use of large groups is forced on us in part by the lack of ready access to teaching rooms and computer classroom, so that we have to train as many people as we can at one time. In many cases a smaller group would be preferable, but still on occasions we might need to resort to a larger room. Swallowgate The room currently houses 12 PCs which are available 24 hours a day for student use. Given the size of the most recently created classrooms in the neighbourhood (Butts Wynd and Irvine, with 35 and 40 PCs each) Swallowgate's 12 machines are less significant than they were in the past. We propose that the 12 PCs should be relocated in the Library, if possible. As it happens Swallowgate is about to be re-furbished, so this might be a timely proposal. There will be issues to do with access to other rooms adjacent to the classroom; for example there is a nearby room occupied by postgraduates, and their normal way in to it during the evenings and at weekends is through the computer room's 24-hour access door. The external door means that access to the room out of hours would be comparatively easy to arrange. Neither the front door to Swallowgate nor the back (24-hour) door currently provides wheelchair access. Also the room is poorly heated and ventilated. All these issues should be addressed as part of the refurbishment of the building, irrespective of whether the staff training room is created. There is a cupboard along the corridor from the proposed training room, which until recently housed ITS material, since thrown away. It could possibly be used as an equipment store. The current computer classroom is used by disabled and other students who need computers to write their exams. This function does not sit well with the arrangements in the computer classrooms, and could be better accommodated in the staff training room. Losing the use of the room for staff training during exam diets is not likely to be a great disadvantage. Modern Languages Development of new multimedia and IT facilities in the School of Modern Languages might render the current computer classroom redundant. This is based on comments from within the School of Modern Languages. If it becomes available it would offer some advantages over Swallowgate. It is larger (currently housing 12 PCs and 12 Macs) and it is already in decent decorative order with good lights and blinds. The benches make it unsuitable for group teaching and would need to be removed. The lack of wall space might make it hard to provide screens and whiteboards. Using the Modern Languages classroom would not involve losing a 24-hour classroom. As it is on the first floor there is no question of wheelchair access (unless a lift is installed at some point). The School 6 lecture theatre is close by, which could be an advantage for events needing facilities for both large and small groups. Out of hours access to the UC building has to be arranged with janitorial staff. The major disadvantage of the Modern Languages option is that it would mean waiting until (if ever) it is released by the School of ML. Meanwhile we could miss the chance of getting the Swallowgate room refurbished suitably. Cost IT Services uses a rough figure of £2,000 per station when costing provision of computer classrooms. In view of the higher specification of the PCs and desks for the staff training room this should be raised to £2,500, with a maximum of 12 stations. However, a review of the best deals currently available at the date of purchase will be undertaken to ensure maximum specification per pound rather than to accept a deal with our current recommended supplier (Viglen). If we allow £5,000 for display equipment and £5,000 for building work, we are suggesting a cost in the region of £40,000. To put this in perspective we should consider the cost of training. Using typical figures from commercial training providers, the difference between on-site training and use of a commercial trainer's own premises is in the region of £100 to £150 per day per student. IT Services currently provides about 200 student-days of training per year, so the projected cost is the equivalent of less than two years' IT training. This does not take into account use of the room by Staff Development and SALTIRE, nor the likely increase in IT Services' provision of training, which is at present limited in part by lack of facilities. Conclusion Neither of the proposed locations is wholly satisfactory, but either would be better than nothing. A swift decision is required if we are to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the Swallowgate re-furbishment. Irrespective of the location, there is a case for providing such a facility somewhere in the University.