Smooth everyday life on campus – Study facilities piloted

“We have groupwork to do, and some of us are going to attend via Teams – where should we go?”
“The lecture is over and I need to get to Zoom right away – where can I sit down to participate?”

New study facility needs have been identified. During the academic year 2023-2024, Helsinki University Library and the Facilities and Properties sector will pilot various study facilities. We challenge students to give us pilot project feedback on how people, facilities and technology can support learning, creativity and wellbeing.

Are you carrying a laptop or not?

Study facility equipment is being piloted on the second floor of Kaisa House:

  • The fully-equipped study station has a computer.
  • On a flexible workstation (screen, keyboard and mouse) you can anchor your own laptop to the dock.
  • In addition, bare workstations are available.

We will monitor how the popularity of different study stations will be distributed. It will also be interesting to follow the use of flexible furniture; whether students prefer to work sitting down or standing. Students can provide written feedback through the QR code in the pilot area.

Similar stations will be opened in the Info Centre library at Viikki Campus. Users of flexible stations receive guidance, and the use is monitored. In addition, the Laptop Lender pilot project has relocated from Aleksandria to Viikki Campus. You can borrow a laptop from the Laptop Lender facility using your University of Helsinki credentials.

Where can I settle in to work, and what do the signs say?

The library’s current signage indicates what kind of soundscape you are supposed to work in for each facility. They do not offer advice or solutions about where you can attend teaching and interact with a study mate using headphones or where you can have short conversations. The signage is from the era when multi-location studies and digital learning were not as common as they are now. Before, the earphones icon meant retreating into your own cocoon, away from the rest of the world – now it's a sign indicating participation in a meeting or other session in the midst of events and situations; of, course, you can still be immersed in a book or music.

New signs will be tested during the academic year in Aleksandria, Kaisa House and the Porthania lobby.

Accessibility and hybrid use of groupwork facilities

Groupwork facilities are intended for working together. Once upon a time, the whole group was almost always in the same place. Nowadays we need groupwork facilities where a single participant is present on the campus, while the rest of the group participates remotely from somewhere else. It is important that groupwork facilities are also designed with remote users in mind. We want to know whether the equipment of groupwork facilities should be changed in order to make the furniture, interiors and technology appropriate and pleasant for remote student participation. Should we, for example, acquire a meeting camera that could be borrowed alongside the fixed equipment, capturing the groupwork facility and participants from various angles, and thus bringing the remote participants closer to the group present in the facility?

We are also considering the more diverse use of groupwork facilities. Could they also work for independent studying, when a student has trouble concentrating surrounded by other students? How could we put appropriate rules in place to ensure that the current facilities are sufficient and support different kinds of learners?

Piloting provides information for Aleksandria’s learning plaza concept

Aleksandria is traditionally thought of as a quiet study environment. However, there could be facilities for working side by side or in groups, and the ground floor plaza could allow some quiet discussions. The existing groupwork facilities can be used for digital encounters, but they alone are not enough. The plaza can be made to adapt to user activities – from working together to quiet concentration. Aleksandria’s plaza could complement the on-campus experience of students, and perhaps also be used by teachers as a place to stop by between lectures and teaching.

The pilot project is part of the Learning Environments project and the work package coordinated by Kirsi Mäenpää, Director of Services at Helsinki University Library. The pilot project aims to provide information and experiences for both the renovation of Aleksandria and the development of study facilities. The pilot projects will be carried out in collaboration with various parties. The renovation of Aleksandria will begin in summer 2024.