Billy is a Level 5 Computing student who lives in Sheffield, occasionally returning to his parents’ house in a nearby city.
Having an appropriately sized space – and appropriate noise level – is important for the task at hand. Sometimes, Billy finds his room offers an ideal environment for studying as it’s “nice and quiet”; at other times though, he finds it too claustrophobic. On campus, unbooked classrooms offer convenience as “you do not have to disrupt your work session by moving say half way across the campus” – Billy often finds it difficult to “get back into the swing of good work production” if he has to switch locations to continue a task. Unbooked classrooms also usually offer a quiet location to work in but if they get crowded the noise means that he moves on to the Learning Centre to take advantage of the “quite calm atmosphere and plenty of space”. For individual work, not having “loads of people all working around” is important, re-iterating the need for personal space. The Learning Centre offers a more spacious learning environment (‘large open space’) than either halls or classrooms though he often finds himself distracted by groups talking loudly, so he prefers the quiet floor. The Learning Centre “sort of eliminates the distractions that my university halls have” – he shares a flat with 14 others and the temptation of sitting and chatting means he becomes un-productive. His halls environment also offers a comfy location which is ideal for “casually revising” or “casual learning” particularly when his flat mates are out – but lack of reliable internet access makes it difficult to be very productive.
Billy’s course has only required him to take part in two group projects in the past 12-months. Again, the Learning Centre offered good space for the group to meet as it is “a sort of neutral place to meet that we all associate with doing work” with good PC/Internet access and plenty of space to practice. His view on an ideal group space includes “plenty of room to scatter paper and books” as well as access points for laptops. He is conscious that when he moves into private accommodation which is further away from the Learning Centre, it will require more motivation – or a re-organisation of time – to maintain his productivity and time spent studying.
Billy does own a laptop and feels that the portability “increases the productivity of work” as all work is stored in one location, removing the need to transfer files. In reality, however, he tends not to bring his laptop to campus and the main benefit of this portability is the ease with which he can take work between Sheffield and his parents’ home. One “huge enhancement” that he recommends is for the University to make the campus more user-friendly for laptops by installing more powerpoints which don’t involve trailing or elevated wires.
Comfort is very important to Billy for individual study (“a sturdy comfortable chair set at a sensible height”) and group study (“nice comfy seating!…ideal seating would be a circular bench that we could all sit round to discuss work/do group work with a practical circular table in the middle”).