Having moved from the University of Tasmania’s Sandy Bay campus to the new Podium building in June 2021, Andrea Carr welcomed the opportunity to work in such a contemporary learning space.
Lectures and lecture theatres have been part of university life for hundreds of years and, while they have had their place, times have changed.
We now know there are much more effective ways to teach and learn. Even before COVID, attendance at lectures has been decreasing noticeably over time, so our students also seem to be ready for a change.
Andrea, Principal, University College, said the Podium, on Melville St in Hobart’s CBD, was a revolution in higher education delivery, both in its physical design and teaching methods.
“Our world is changing so quickly and so frequently we must teach in a way that will allow our graduates to be adaptable in this ever-changing environment,” she said.
“We need to focus on teaching the 'how and why' rather than the 'what' because often by the time we engage with the 'what,' it is dated or even obsolete.
“It is important to teach collaboration and team-work, build confidence and capacity to continue to learn beyond the university setting, and to teach students how to use that knowledge, to find it and to curate it.”
It is important to teach collaboration and team-work, build confidence and capacity to continue to learn beyond the university setting, and to teach students how to use that knowledge, to find it and to curate it.
The University’s shift away from a lecture-based model to other high-impact face-to-face learning experiences is a big part of its transition into new, purpose-built learning spaces in the Hobart CBD, the new Cradle Coast Campus in Burnie’s West Park, and at Inveresk in Launceston.
The Podium has no lecture theatres. It has numerous smaller learning spaces and an open plan that reinforces the idea of staff and students working together side-by-side.
Its large windows face out onto the street, allowing those inside to see the city life outside, and letting passers-by to observe at the activity within, and generating curiosity by putting learning on display.
Students are given the subject material that will prepare them for working in groups in a workshop environment, where they build, create and apply their understanding.
So, without reducing face-to-face contact hours, the time spent at uni is more focussed and directed to a more effective and collaborative learning environment which is more conducive to absorbing and building knowledge and consolidating skills.
The Podium also features quiet study areas, semi-private booths, a breakout area, kitchenette, courtyard and open workspaces, allowing for a flexible on-campus experience and enabling rich peer-to-peer connectivity.
“The way the rooms are designed allows us to teach students, to be by their shoulder while they learn, to support them.
“The focus is on bringing students together – either online or face-to-face. Learning is experiential and our spaces are designed to enable that, so students can contribute.”
Student life is also changing. As students increasingly juggle work and family commitments with their own studies, that romantic image of students filling campus lawns to relax and share ideas between classes is also becoming a thing of the past. Campus culture still exists but it is evolving, and so must the university.
The focus is on bringing students together – either online or face-to-face. Learning is experiential and our spaces are designed to enable that, so students can contribute.
According to Andrea, contemporary higher education must focus on teaching and skilling graduates for work in the 21st century and we must move from a "stand and deliver" approach to facilitating learning that is co-created with, and by, students and supported by current technology.
“We need to accommodate the changing needs of students,” she said.
“Particularly at University College (which delivers pathway programs, diplomas and associate degrees), most of our students are non-traditional: they are mature-age, up-skillers, and re-skillers.
“Students can be full-time students, or carers, workers, sportspeople, and they have to plan their lives in a way that enables them to do what they need to do.”
As well as being a great place for students, Andrea said the Podium and other new University buildings in the city would be of great value to everyone who frequented Hobart’s CBD.
“I’m sitting at my desk, looking out at people walking down the street here, I’m not closed away in an internal office, this place is genuinely inviting and open.
“With this Southern Campus plan, we need to think beyond today. In 15 years from now, this will be a vibrant, different city. With more staff and students moving around in the city, we are directly contributing to the economic viability of the city, its cafes, its shops.
“And the University is building more public spaces around its buildings, parks and lanes. It is a public space for all Tasmanians. Cities are alive because of the people that are in them and the University of Tasmania is becoming part of the landscape of this city.”
Find out more about the southern campus we're creating in the city-centre of nipaluna/Hobart.
Explore our pathway programs, diplomas and associate degrees delivered by University College.