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James’ innovative layout introduces the ‘mentor in the centre’

November 25, 2014

We’ve all heard of the ‘sage on the stage’ and the ‘guide on the side’. Now Learning Spaces Development Manager James Rutherford has created a new teaching delivery concept – the ‘mentor in the centre’.

His design of a newsroom for BA Fashion Journalism students at the London College of Fashion placed the tutor uniquely in the middle of the room.
“It was partly through necessity because the power and data was already delivered via a central pole,” James said, “but overall it was designed according to the needs of students after talking to them, their course leader, the Dean and timetabling officer.”
The innovation allowed a small, 55 sq metre room at Lime Grove – previously used as an access area for printing and software training – to be transformed into an active newsroom for students to specialize in their respective areas of fashion production, features, broadcast and print.
“Teaching with a lectern can take up a lot of space so we created an island for the tutor at a pivotal position in the centre of the room,” said James. “It’s all about guided learning, not didactic learning.”

The full plan view of the room and further details are available at:
In the blog, James explains: “Students can work in groups around tables or on mobile chairs so that they can reposition themselves to work on their own computer, see one of two large LCD screens or face the tutor wherever they are standing.
“The tutor can move around the class, joining in with a group discussion or working with a particular student as well as being the fulcrum when addressing the whole cohort.”

James completed the refurbishment before leaving the college to take over as Learning Spaces Development Manager at the University of Birmingham, a post previously held by SCHOMS colleague Toni Kelly.

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