A wireless lesson in hot-desking

IT is a room that has always been a true indicator of career advancement - your own office.

But a new innovation being tested by Telford College could see the end of the much-loved space.

The Edinburgh college is to introduce an innovative "hot-desking" environment at its new campus on the Granton waterfront, which opens this summer.

It means that all teachers, lecturers, administration staff and even the college principal, will not be given their own office space on campus. Instead, they will use the latest wireless technology. The scheme is the first of its kind in Scotland and developers believe it will put the college at the forefront of technological innovation in UK education.

But the plans have been slammed by union chiefs, who say the lack of privacy and storage will make it impossible for lecturers to work effectively.

Part of the scheme's intention is to allow the same number of pupils and teachers to be able to work from a smaller space.

Michael Turpie, the head of learning resources and information technology at the college, said: "All staff, from the principal down, will be based in two big open plan offices. We are extremely excited about this project and the benefits it will bring to our students and staff.

"It will create a unique learning and teaching environment by implementing state-of-the-art technology for everyone to use.

"It is a much more efficient way of using the space. In the private sector it is seen as no big deal, and we believe the public sector should be no different."

Instead of having an office space, each lecturer will instead have a pin code so they can tap into any computer to access their online profile and files.

They will also be able to access the internet anywhere on campus through their laptop computers.

Instead of having their own desk telephone, they will instead type a code into the nearest handset, or into a wireless handset, meaning any calls to their direct line are transferred to that telephone.

Affiniti, the company setting up the network systems, says it expects other colleges and universities to follow Telford's lead.

Khaled Qayum, Affiniti's account director for education in Scotland, said: "It's a whole new way of working for the lecturers and students. No other college or university has this hot-desking facility. It will make the whole college much more flexible."

But Dr Tony Axon, a spokesman for the Association of University Teachers (AUT) Scotland, was doubtful whether the "hot-desking" environment could work in further or higher education.

He said: "Lecturers use their offices for tutorials and also to store research and teaching materials. It would be impossible for them to work without them.

"I'm surprised they could even use this system in colleges."

Back to the top of the page