A day in the life of … Ricardo Thomson, Senior Technician, Projects

My role is Senior Technician, Projects in the PVCE Learning Environments unit. In this role I manage the bigger audio-visual projects in the CATS spaces. I also assist with the creation of specifications for non-CATS rooms.


Annually, my work is broken up into an install period and a planning period for the refurbishments of all CATS classrooms. Right now I’m in the planning mode. Today when I get into work, I spend some time writing specifications for contractors to install our standards into classrooms.


The rest of my morning is spent writing an evaluation for the Pilot Active Learning Spaces (PALS) project – I was part of a team who transformed Mathews 102 into an active learning classroom late last year. Active learning spaces disrupt traditional modes of learning, putting an emphasis on sharing and collaboration between the students. It’s a big change from a traditional classroom, which is just a lectern and projector at the front.


In my work on the PALS project, I designed  the audio-visual aspects of the space, I also wrote the tender specifications for the contractor, and then I did the engineering at the end.


The classroom is arranged with clusters of desks, called pods that seat 6-8 students. Each pod has a screen, a laptop input plate and a control panel, which includes a collaborate mode button. Pressing this button lets students share information from their pod onto [any screen in the classroom. They can also opt to view information from neighbouring pods, or from the presenter’s screen at the front of the room. What’s different between my design is that in a lot of other rooms, the lecturer controls everything from their console, but the collaborate mode button unlocks that control for the students.


After lunch, I head into a meeting about the next stage of the active learning spaces project, which I’ll be heavily involved with. We’ll be delivering 16 of these active learning classrooms across two precincts and I’ll be responsible for all the technical specifications.


I also squeeze in a quick phone call with some colleagues in IT before I head off for the day – we’re currently working to get our wireless presentation tools off the ground, so that’s a big deal. I’m really hoping that we’ll have functionality by session 1 of next year. Then you won’t have to plug in your HDMI cable to your laptop to present – you can walk around and present from anywhere in the room.


What all this work has in common, and what I love about it, is that it’s all about using technology to share ideas. So it’s not limiting the ideas to one person or one at a time – you can actually put the information in the middle of the room and have everyone discuss it from different angles.