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Updated: LTSMG offering a best-in-class service to support AV/IT teams in educational environments

The Learning and Teaching Spaces Managers Group (LTSMG) is going from strength to strength in its support for the AV community working in the education sector

Sharing the secrets of your success with a competitor is not typically common practice for a business – but for members of the Learning and Teaching Spaces Managers Group (LTSMG), it’s an everyday activity.

The volunteer run not for profit group – formed by Az Mohammed (formerly of Newcastle University) in the late 1990’s – was set up exclusively to provide AV professionals working in higher education with a platform in which to communicate, sharing their knowledge and ideas with its members.

Today, its popularity continues to rise, with more than 300 active members – some from as far afield as Australia, Hong Kong and even Malta.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of new members here in the UK and we’ve observed increased levels of interest across Europe and other parts of the world,” explained Jonathan Owen who became chairman of the LTSMG in March of last year.

“Unlike other professions, there is a real community feel in sharing ideas and helping one another out in the educational sector. Theoretically we’re all competitors and competing for the same student body, but we tend to share virtually everything and it provides huge value to members.

Could do better

However, according to Owen – who was full of praise of its founder who helped grow the group for more than 20 years – he feels there are significant opportunities to help further boost its popularity on a local and global scale, whilst (crucially) adding additional value to its members. 

“Az [Mohammed] has done a fantastic job with LTSMG, laying some very strong foundations from which myself and my team can work from,” said Owen. “However, like Az before me, you can never sit still and we want to continue to drive things forward.” 

For the past 12 months, Owen and his executive team, which includes prominent industry figure Adam Harvey (see box out), have been working hard to transform the LTSMG into a – with full respect to its predecessor – a more professionally run organisation.

Executive Team:

Jonathan Owen (chairman) & of Warwick University

Aaron Turlington-Smith from Loughborough University

Colin Fahey of Newcastle University

Adam Harvey from the University of Hertfordshire

Owen explains: “I’ve worked at the University of Warwick for the past 16 or 17 years and been a member of LTSMG throughout its various guises during that time.

“When I came in as chairman last March (2017), I, perhaps naively, had the assumption there would be a solid structure in place, such as bank accounts and being a registered company – things like that. I quickly discovered that wasn’t the case at all. Although the group was already successful, there wasn’t any real structure. I felt for it to grow, that needed to change.

Discussing the original inherited exec team, he added: “I had expressed some concerns to the nominated executive committee that I had inherited and was concerned about the long-term future of the group and whether it was sustainable to continue to grow. I feel things are now in place to do that.”


In November last year (2017), the LTSMG was effectively relaunched as an organisation to help drive greater awareness of what it can offer those in the industry. This included an entirely new executive team, a new website and infrastructure capable of significant growth.

But what does it offer?

For those unfamiliar with the LTSMG, there are essentially two strings to its bow when it comes to its value offering.

At its core, the group provides its members with the ability to communicate collectively. The LTSMG’s private ‘mailing list’ service (powered by JISC), allows conversations to be held collectively (all members) over email, with responses displayed in a format comparable to a chat room.

Owen explained that since the relaunch of the LTSMG last year, which has also seen a greater push on social media, the mailing list service has prompted a surge of interest.

Free For All: 

Despite the growth and commitment to moving the group forward, Owen insists the LTSMG remains passionate about removing any barriers to join, which is why the LTSMG remains completely free – something it has no plans to change anytime soon.

“We believe this approach has helped nurture a passionate community of technologists with a diverse range of roles, responsibilities and expertise.” 

“We believe this approach has helped nurture a passionate community of technologists with a diverse range of roles, responsibilities and expertise.” 

“It’s essentially a private space for members to communicate,” explained Owen. “It gives members the freedom to discuss whatever they like. They can ask about an integrator or a particular manufacturer or piece of equipment. It’s a really valuable resource. If someone needs help or advice on something, they can ask and people will help if they can.”

Harvey, who joined the LTSMG’s executive team following Owen’s appointment and is instrumental in growing the group’s awareness on social media, described the mailing list as a “hive of activity”, used on a daily basis by members asking for help, sharing best practice and exchanging knowledge.

“Over the past 12-18 months it’s become a lot more active. That certainly seems to be the go-to place now for information for a lot of people. There are new posts daily.”


In addition to the mailing list, the LTSMG also hosts an annual conference for its members – an event which includes networking opportunities, keynote speakers and presentations from sponsors (manufacturers) – from whom the group receives its only source of revenue.

Owen, who hosted the 2016 edition of the LTSMG’s conference at Warwick University (sparking his deeper involvement), felt the opportunities and its potential could be pushed further – something he feels was evident  during his first conference at Harvey’s University [Hertfordshire] held at the end of last year (2017).

“With respect to Az [Mohammed], it was always run on a relatively small scale and didn’t have much room to become anything bigger,” Owen discussed. “We now have things in place to really push the boundaries. It’s a lot of hard work but the results and feedback show that it was the right thing to do.”

During Mohammed’s tenure, which ended in 2015 following his retirement, conferences originally ran over a single day, but increased during 2009 and 2015 to two. 

Sponsorship for events also steadily increased during this time, from around four to 20, whilst delegates remained consistent at around 50. 

LTSMG 2009-2016

  • 2009 Emirates Stadium over 2 days with 4 sponsors and 50 delegates.
  • 2011 Edinburgh University over 2 days with 4 sponsors and 50 delegate
  • 2012 Leicester University over 2 days with 5 sponsors and 50 delegates.
  • 2013 Loughborough University over 2 days with 6 sponsors and 50 delegates.
  • 2014 Newcastle University over 2 days with 20 sponsors and 50 delegates.
  • 2015 Dundee University, over 2 days 

All inclusive

Under Owen and his team’s leadership the most recent LTSMG conference (held at Harvey’s University of Hertfordshire) took place over three days and included more than 22 different sponsors. 

The revenues from the sponsorship were used to pay for the venue, as well as accommodation and food and drink for around 50 members, whilst a further 20 attended for the day (no accommodation). 

“As we’ve grown, so has demand,” explained Owen. “We sell out within a few days, and that’s why we’ll be opening it up for day delegates this year. That’s something we really want to ramp up this year.”

Harvey added: “It started off very small, but as it’s become more popular, delegates and sponsors wanted it to be bigger.

“At the last conference, we had 50-60 members that took advantage of the package of accommodation, catering and the whole event for free. But there were 44 different institutions represented over those few days. That’s nearly a third of the universities in the UK. That’s a strong influential group of people in a single place, which is valuable to them, but also extremely valuable to our sponsors.”

He continued: “Whilst it is a business conference, we want to keep them as informal as possible. Everybody is in together to create a very inclusive community. It’s not just a networking opportunity for the delegates and the sponsors, but for the manufacturers that are there as well. We listen to everybody and make sure the group works for everyone.”

A bright future

Another addition to the LTSMG under Owen’s leadership has seen the launch of mid-year manufacturer specific day events, allowing members to learn more about a particular brand and its products.

Partnerships so far have included a day event with WolfVision (Network AV-based collaborative learning), held at City, University of London in March – with more planned going forward.

The group has already confirmed its next conference will take place at Loughborough University (14-16 November) on the Olympic Park site in London, with Owen promising it will be its “biggest and best” yet.

“I’m immensely proud of the progress we’ve made over the past 12 months,” said Owen wrapping up our discussion.

“I believe we’ve maintained the informal nature of the group, which our members and sponsors value most, whilst also broadening our horizons by increasing the size of our community and offering technology-focused events in conjunction with leading manufacturers.”

If you’re currently working in the education sector and would like to join the LTSMG, visit: