It’s the issue that most business would kill to have: too much business growth. So how can you turn this ‘problem’ to your advantage? Melbourne tertiary educator Monash College saw their need for urgent teaching space as an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
Monash College’s administrators were recently faced with a problem familiar to most universities: its student body was quickly outpacing available space. Thirty per cent year-on-year growth is an encouraging number, but it meant that the school needed to urgently find a place to put this new wave of students. Oh, and it had about 10 months to find the solution.
To solve this issue, they created a pop-up teaching village that reflected the culture of their students and encouraged a modern style of teaching. It was also an opportunity for change, says Julie Coleman, director of people and culture at Monash College.
“We had a burning platform in terms of the growth that we had to accommodate. At the same time, we very much wanted to shift the way that we were delivering our teaching and learning,” says Coleman.
Their decision to embrace prefabricated classrooms and their inspirational design have lead to Monash College being named as a finalist for the 2016 AHRI Award for Innovation and Creativity.
The learning village they’ve created is a great example of how to make the most of business growth. The new space served as a catalyst for the school to teach in new ways, says Coleman.
“There’s no longer the teacher standing at the front delivering boring powerpoints. That’s a thing of the past, and this is about making sure that our teachers embrace a new way of teaching, and delivery and engagement with students,” she says.
So what can we learn from the experience of Monash College?
When change is a necessity, use it as an opportunity to step things up
Instead of taking the easy road and producing the minimum response to accommodate the influx of students, Monash College took this opportunity to create a cutting-edge space that would set the standard for the college’s other buildings.
“All of the existing teaching spaces we had are essentially rejected. No one wants to teach in them anymore,” says Phil Ward, director, business environment, Monash College Architect. “Not only has the new space and new way become fantastic, but it’s dumped a new problem on us because we’ve got to try and bring everything else up to this fantastic standard now. It’s a problem you want to have.”
Innovation must become the rule, not the exception
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that’s definitely been the case for Monash College. But if you want to really take advantage of the opportunity of business growth, you need to have an attitude of continual progression, says Ward.
“There’s this typical yo-yo thing. We head out to the cutting edge, and then come back, build, test and then go back to the cutting edge again,” he says.
Bringing your employees with you on the learning experience is crucial to long-term business growth, says Coleman.
“Change is the only constant thing. We’re continually changing people with us on that journey. ” she says. “Because we’ve had the platform, we’ve had the new spaces, we’ve got the technology, people have absolutely come on the journey and the uptake has been fantastic.”
The nomination is welcomed by the college, and seen as recognition of a unique and inspiring project.
“We’re very proud to be nominated and of this project that brings people, culture, place and technology together,” says Coleman.
The AHRI Awards will be announced on Thursday the 1st of December.