In order to answer this question those managing the teaching spaces must be able to not only know the current demand but also the future demand for these spaces – not always easy information to get hold of, in my experience!
Understanding how the factors that affect teaching demand will change over the coming years is critical, as this can be used to generate future predictions of teaching room requirements by creating models using this information.
This models and the information they provide enables those managing the teaching spaces to focus any capital investment towards evolving the estate in line with the changing teaching space demands. In doing so, this not only ensures that staff and students have rooms that suit their needs – benefitting both staff and student experience – but also ensures that the supply of teaching spaces reflects the demand – benefitting the space utilisation rate and therefore enabling institutions to get the most out of their space and capital.
Future Teaching Space Requirements
Knowing your future teaching space requirements is the key to ensuring your institution has the right number, size and type of teaching spaces available each academic year.
If you haven’t got a system in place to manage this, it is certainly worth looking at, as otherwise the estate can only react rather than plan for, changes in teaching demands. A reactionary estate will often resulting in teaching space being provided for past demand rather than the future.
This hampers the evolution of teaching practices, impacting on the student and staff experience, plus results in space being used for activities that don’t suit their target provision, again effecting the staff and student experience, but in this case also the institution’s space utilisation rate.
To model predicted teaching practice changes in order to understand the estate requirements, you must know how these practice changes will affect the timetable requests. For example, if a department is aiming to increase the number of small class teaching – delve into what this actually means. How are they going to do this? What class sizes are they aiming for? How many modules/activities will be effected and how? When are they looking to achieve this by? What type of rooms do they want when they achieve this?
Ultimately, this information is unlikely to have already been collected unless specifically asked for however spending time investigating and discussing the effects these changes will have, not only improves you understanding but also there’s and may even influence decisions and ensure teaching space requirements are added to the agendas for future considerations.
The process of modelling how these changes will effect teaching room requirement is not a straight forward one. The method I follow is to start with the current timetable data and work from there amending the data according to the effects highlighted. Depending on the resources you have available and the time you have to spend doing this, this can either be done in detail via the timetabling software or external to the software using a more broad brush approach.
In most scenarios, the latter will give you a good enough impression of the number, size and type of teaching spaces that the teaching requests require. However, the former will enable you to then take this a step further and create a working model timetable using different future teaching space requirements and provides peace of mind that the solution will definitely work! Both have their uses, but I feel a lot can be gleaned from modelling externally to the timetable software and this will save you a considerable amount of time.
In both cases, I carry out this type of modelling service via Education Space Consultancy therefore if you would like to save time and be provided with a professional, reliable and affordable modelling consultancy service take a look at this page for more info and please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me I would be very happy to help.
Current Space Requirement
In addition to understanding future space requirements, as mentioned at the start of this article it is also certainly worth understanding how the space is currently being used. If you have timetable and teaching space utilisation data, then you already have the information available to find this out.
I have provided a quick and easy method for understanding your institutions teaching room requirements within the Education Space Consultancy Teaching Space Utilisation Data Analysis Tool that is free for all subscribers to the Education Space Consultancy newsletter to download.
This tool uses your teaching space utilisation data to create a table indicating your institutions teaching room requirements, separating the demand into different capacity bands. If you have other factors that affect the demand, such as location and availability then I would advise including these in the analysis to ensure you understand how these effect the institutions room requirements. If using the tool this can be done by simply only entering each subsection of data into the table – for example, if your institution has department only teaching space insert each department’s space into the table individually to understand the teaching space requirement for each department.
Alternatively if you would rather save time and have this done for you, again I am happy to help so please feel free to contact me!
The flaws in using solely the teaching space utilisation data to understand current demand is that 1) the actual usage rarely 100% reflects the timetable usage and 2) the demand for teaching space cannot always be recognised by the actual teaching space utilisation data alone. For example department teaching space is not always solely accommodated within the department teaching space and can overflow into the central teaching space.
Therefore in combination with calculating the teaching room requirement with the actual teaching space utilisation data I advise also calculating the requirement using the timetable data for that week. This will help you to understand how these 2 flaws affect the demand, I would suggest that for 1) any differences should be investigated – as in an ideal world, the timetable should 100% match the actual usage.
This is important, as if you only use the teaching space utilisation survey data to understand the current room requirement and amend the estate accordingly you may create a supply of teaching space that doesn’t reflect the timetable demand. The space must be able to accommodate the timetable demand – not the recorded attendance numbers – it is very important that this is understood when planning changes to the estate!
To find out the teaching space requirement you will need to create a model that uses the timetable data to determine the requirement throughout the year. This model should incorporate all the different factors that affect demand as discussed in previous articles in this series – such as location, availability and access, plus the model should measure demand over the entire year rather than just one week. This will ensure you understand the peak demand for each subsection of teaching space rooms and therefore any plans to amend the estate as a result will incorporate this peak demand – rather than just the demand recorded for the survey week.
Again if you would like help creating this model, I provide an experienced teaching space and timetable modelling service via Education Space Consultancy that can provide you with is information to help you plan your estate. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if this is something that may interest you, I would be very happy to help.
As mentioned, now you have your timetable teaching room requirement first of all investigate any differences highlighted between these results and the teaching space utilisation survey results. This will help to improve the accuracy of the timetable – providing the many benefits this brings with it.
Then, you can use this information to understand what the teaching room requirement was for this academic year and how it compares to your current supply – Does it match? What are the differences? Why are there differences?
If you have already done models of future teaching room requirements, of which this current year is one of then then you can also compare the current and predicted teaching room requirement figures – are there any differences? If so, then this suggests that there were inaccuracies in the prediction and therefore the reasons for this should be investigated and resolved, to ensure that models for future years can be adapted to include these corrections and provide a more accurate prediction of teaching rom requirements. This will help you to maximise the benefits of spending investment on the teaching space, ensuring the supply matches the demand.
By carrying out these analysis techniques, you will now have a clearer picture of what your teaching space requirements are for now and future years. You can use this to ensure that the future estate reflects the demand and can adapt in time for planned changes to teaching room requirements. This will not only help you to ensure that you have an excellent space utilisation rate, but also have a positive influence on both the student and staff experience.
Use this data to plan for for the future, evolving your estate to match the predicted changes in teaching requirements so you can stay ahead the game and provide the etachign space the staff and students require – when they require it.
I hope you have found the article useful and interesting, remember to sign up to Education Space Consultancy newsletter to gain free access to the Teaching Space Utilisation Data Analysis Tool that will enable you to instantly analyse you teaching space utilisation data and find out your current teaching room requirement.
As mentioned within this article, if you would like any expert and experienced help in creating your teaching space strategy for future years I would be very happy to help so please don’t hesitate to contact me.
If you currently don’t carry out Teaching Space Utilisation Surveys at your institution or do but currently manage them internally or with another company, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me to discuss how Education Space Consultancy can offer you a professional, reliable and client focussed teaching space utilisation service that will provide you with the information you require, when you need it, at an affordable price. Also, remember to take a look at the Teaching Space Utilisation Survey and Consultancy page for more information on how Education Space Consultancy can help you gather this information and help you improve your institutions teaching space utilisation
This is the last article in the 8 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Teaching Space Utilisation Data series, I hope you have found these articles helpful and interesting. Please feel free to leave your comments and continue discussions, I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on all the topics covered.
Previous articles in this series:
All the best