Collaboration tools for effective learning best practice at NMITE

ThinkingWall Divider for teaching & learning at NMITE

Logovisual’s MD Dan Varney was delighted to be invited to visit NMITE (The New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering) in Hereford, UK and attend for the morning as students vied for the coveted ‘Worst Design’ awards. He then had informal discussions while students prepared in teams to pitch for a design competition. 

What is NMITE? 

Based over 2 campuses in Hereford, NMITE is a University with a difference. Unlike traditional universities, NMITE students learn through teamwork and hands-on projects, tackling real-world challenges in collaboration with industry partners. This approach ensures that students are not just theoretically sound but also practically skilled, ready to meet the demands of their future employers.   

Why Logovisual’s ThinkingWall® Dividers? 

NMITE were early adopters of Logovisual designed ThinkingWall® Dividers – mobile partitions with magnetic whiteboard faces to both sides.  

The Divider is a great example of how a product design evolves from initial conception as a one-off solution to a client brief, through iterations which meet an increasing number of generic design criteria. 

These dividers have become a staple in NMITE’s collaborative learning environment, with Associate Professor Peter Metcalfe being a keen advocate. He considers them to be the best collaboration tool on campus, invaluable in both teaching and student activities. Professor Metcalfe commented: 

“NMITE has actively tried to minimize fixed furnishings in the teaching studios, so the flexibility these boards provide works really well for us. They move and lock into position really well, maximising space usage to create the right learning environment” 

How are the ThinkingWall® Dividers used at NMITE? 

Dividers play a variety of roles at NMITE, with teachers using them for planning and presenting and students using them in collaborative problem solving. 

  • Visualisation: Professor Metcalfe uses one side of the Divider in his office to outline the syllabus phases and modules, while the other side explains the experiential learning cycle that he and colleagues apply in their innovative approach to delivering the Engineering and design syllabuses. 
  • Presentation: In the main teaching spaces, Dividers are used for presenting work to the plenary. 
  • Collaboration: The Dividers are turned around to split the larger learning space up, so that 6 teams can each use one side as their visual collaboration space to tackle activities. 
ThinkingWall Divider in use for learning at NMITE

The ‘In Worst Place’ challenge 

After a tour of the spaces came a highlight of Dan’s visit, the ‘In Worst Place’ session with second-year students. This creative exercise challenged students with a brief to design the worst possible bus stop. 

It was an entertaining way of engaging students in thinking about the tenets of design and how best to turn good design on its head. Impossibly complex construction, scarce and endangered materials, user discomfort and exclusion of minority needs all scored highly. Students took turns to share their designs via an overhead camera casting to monitors above each team’s workspace so everyone had a clear view. The ‘worst place’ and ‘best contender’ were promoted to and relegated from magnetic pins on a Divider at the front of the study room. 

Design Cookbook and discussion 

The students then drew on keywords to formulate design for excellence principles and to develop pitches for the afternoon, when they had chance to elicit a design brief for bus stops for the new electric buses which provide free public transport around Hereford.  

Dan sat in with each group giving students the opportunity for informal discussions, which centred around two main themes – making the most of design briefings and arriving at a winning design. Some of the points that emerged were: 

Making the most of design briefings: 

  • Make sure you know how long you’ve got and manage the time wisely to cover the ground. 
  • Have collateral that demonstrates your skills and builds credibility – commercially this will be literature, website, case studies and testimonials, but when starting out this will be a portfolio, CV and references. 
  • Be genuinely interested in the client – not just their expressed needs, but getting underneath what maybe the clients assumed was the solution to find their context, how the need has arisen, and what else they have tried or considered. 
  • Avoid the temptation to jump into solving the problem at design brief stage. Ask questions, listen intently to responses and keep an open mind. 
  • There are no wrong questions, but consider your time constraints. Ask open questions that help you develop a comprehensive understanding of the fullest context.  
  • Convey your appreciation for the opportunity, and your conviction and confidence in being able to deliver to the brief 

Arriving at a winning design 

  • Design is an iterative process, evolving from preceding ‘successes’ and ‘shortfalls’ 
  • By shortfalls, we may just mean a design falls down on one or other criteria – production cost, or transportability, for example. These are valuable learning points that guide future improvements 
  • By successes, we may know that the initial design exactly met the brief of a client as a one-off solution for which only certain specific criteria were relevant, and the opportunity then is to evolve that design to have broader, more widespread application. 
  • Winning designs have universal appeal, scoring highly all key criteria, balancing functionality, aesthetics, cost-efficiency, sustainability and practicality 
  • The final design must satisfy all stakeholders, not just those immediately involved in the project. This includes all those with buying power and, most importantly, end users.
  • There is room for innovation in even the most seemingly mundane brief. New technologies and materials or a fresh perspective on existing solutions all prompt innovative thinking. 

Conclusion 

Dan’s visit to NMITE reinforced our belief in the importance of collaboration tools in education. Logovisual’s ThinkingWall® Dividers have proven to be a key asset in encouraging teamwork and innovative thinking at NMITE. We’re delighted that they are supporting the development of the next generation of engineers and designers. 

Logovisual have previously supplied whiteboard panels for our London office, so when we needed whiteboards for a room at our head office we got in touch. The end result looks good – many thanks.

ADRIAN SHAH-CUNDY, VOLKER WESSELLS

All looks fantastic thank you!!
The guys were a pleasure to meet and it was all so hassle free.

CHARLOTTE WALTERS, TUNGSTEN NETWORK

Commissioned Logovisual to design and install a folding wall in one of our technology rooms. Both our company and the NHS Trust were absolutely delighted with the installation a first for all.

PETER SALT, IMMERSIVE

Clear and prompt communication throughout and a very smooth installation process. Nothing was too hard. Highly recommended!

TRACEY COVE, STEVENS & COVE

Excellent, high quality product, purchased after wise advice and installed quickly by friendly installers. Perfect product for our meeting room needs.

MIA ELLIOTT, DIOCESE OF GUILDFORD

The board looks great! And I’d like to say your installers were absolutely fantastic, so friendly, organised and cleaned up.

JESS MARTIN, VAYNERMEDIA

Logovisual really understood our brief and made some great suggestions to make our designs come to life. They helped us bring a child’s game from a small tin to a life size piece of experiential, for us to take in to store at John Lewis. Everyone loved it. Thank you guys.

TAMARA SPURWAY, WILD & WOLF

As a product, they really provide a varied functionality to aid in our brainstorming and project works. These mobile whiteboards have really been an excellent investment and are immensely popular with our staff.

SEBASTIAN FRANCIS-JONES, C SPACE

The whole process from start to finish was excellent and the final product was second to none. Highly recommend Logovisual and the team and will be using them again very soon for the next project.

LYNNE BRODA, OXFORD CARTOGRAPHERS

The install was fab the guys were excellent and we all love the wall, so much in fact we are thinking of future projects including them. Once again can’t thank you enough for a great thorough service.

ZOE HARRIS, CBRE GLOBAL INVESTORS

Logovisual had as I believed to be the simplest and hassle free job on the project, install of white boards. They were in and out within 3 hours, a job well done!

THE PROJECT TEAM, OVERBURY PLC

The product itself is superbly built and easy to manoeuvre around with the attached wheels. From the office team’s communication before our event to the delivery team’s installation and pickup I found everyone to be really helpful and very professional going out of their way to meet our deadlines. I would certainly recommend logovisual.

SHAUN O’HARA, SAATCHI & SAATCHI WELLNESS

We were looking for a new “canvas” to share information and encourage joint thinking. The Thinking Wall turned out to be the perfect solution. There’s room to be expansive and for things to have real impact. The service we received right from our first enquiry, to installation (very fast, very painless) has been excellent.

STEPHEN CROWE, SCOTTISH FUNDING COUNCIL

We were pleased with the high level of customer service, our order was dealt with quickly and efficiently and we are thrilled with the finished product. The custom whiteboards that are exactly as we had envisaged them.

STEVE CROSTHWAITE, HOTSPUR PRIMARY SCHOOL

Just wanted to thank you again for your help, had a small amount of feedback from our client: Whiteboards are superb. Even better than expected!

LEE, IDEA UK DESIGN & MARKETING

The products look amazing and your team were clean, tidy and considerate.

MARTIN HASSALL-LEES, PLACES FOR PEOPLE