Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rules of Engagement-EDUCAUSE 2006, Dallas, TX

On October 11th, 2006 I presented at the EDUCAUSE international conference in Dallas. The program, entitled, Rules of Engagement, presented a variety of strategies to engage the "Millennial" student. Topics covered included learning space design, digital video, Video Over IP, Tablet PC technologies, and student response systems. Of particular interest to the group was a discussion on how to design and develop collaborative learning spaces. There is a growing trend for universities and colleges to set aside spaces in new and remodeled spaces where students can interact and collaborate on specific projects. The key is to decide early on what the teaching and learning activities will be. From there, it is important to consider both room design and technologies employed simultaneously. After your space has been completed, it is important to make sure the space is being utilized as you envisioned. If the space isn't promoting collaboration, it could be due to several reasons. One reason could be that your faculty haven't developed curriculum that focuses on collaborative projects. Another obstacle is that students may not be aware that they can talk openly in newly developed collaborative spaces. This is a common phenomena in newly created library collaborative learning space. Careful planning, effective implementation, and prudent assessment will yield successful results.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Transforming old spaces to new meeting and learning environments

There are many potential areas that could be transformed into vibrant examples of new learning spaces. It takes vision, careful planning, and advocacy to make it happen. Take the following example. The before image (left) is a photo of our traditional faculty senate chambers. It was used for many years, including the smart yellow chairs and elegant orange carpeting. The important point here, is that someone needs to present the case of "what if's", or in other words, "How could this space be remodeled to foster interactive meetings, and also provide a new learning space for faculty and students with appropriate technology.

After conceiving of the transformation, a presentation to the faculty senate committee was the next step. It was here that I layed out the potential for lighting/dimming control, touch panel control of all technology, wireless internet, and new chairs, U-shaped tables, electronically controlled shades, and video conferencing capability. The capacity to record proceedings and meetings to a digital video recorder was an added plus.

The after image clearly shows the transformation. People are put into a more interactive and collaborative space. The technology, while present, is actually translucent to the space. It's a comfortable environment promoting interaction, as well as presentation. Lighting, audio, and projection can be customized for practially any situation. The key to this success is vision, planning, and advocacy. With these three elements, your new space is more likely to be successful.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Collaborative Learning Space Unveiled

Collaborative Learning Environments 2

A new collaborative learning space was unveiled on our campus, as part of our Passport to Technology 3. A small version of the Herman Miller Resolve system has been installed, to complement a larger layout in our Murphy Library. There has been a continual and collaborative process of meetings and discussion between myself and the planning committee in our library. The layout in the photo (left) shows a system to introduce a collaborative learning environment to faculty and students. It will be a place where we can discuss the philosophy of collaborative learning, and how we develop teaching strategies to enhance student learning. We will be tracking how students utilize these new learning environments, and assess how we may "roll out" additional collaborative learning areas in the library and around campus.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Collaborative Learning Spaces

Collaborative Learning Environments
When designing new learning spaces, it is important to consider the physical environment, the layout of the space, and the objective of the space in relation to the student. If you have the opportunity to begin with an open area (new or remodeled), surveying many different learning environment before you begin drawing the first line of your design is very important. In my research, I came upon the Herman Miller Resolve system. It is a very unique design with excellent design characteristics. The concept is built upon a matrix structure based upon 120-degree angles. As the literature states, it is an "open, inviting, space-efficient workstations where people feel "comfortable and connected." This concept is very conducive for collaborative learning. I have designed a small demonstration space for this system in our Wing Technology Center, and have been working with our collaborative planning group in Murphy Library to integrate a larger "wishbone" layout. We will be working together to collect data on how students use these spaces to promote learning and interaction in their "university experience." Future postings of our experiences will be posted to this blog. Feel free provide your opinions on this concept.

For more information on Herman Miller products, consider going to their excellent web site.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Collaborative Learning Spaces in England

Collaborative Spaces in Europe
Designing new collaborative learning spaces has become an important discussion in IT and Library circles. This trend is not only occurring in the United States, but also worldwide. The image on the left is from the Metropolitan University in London. This collaborative space is used by college students, but also for special computer workshops for younger adults. These spaces provide an opportunity for learners to work individually, in groups, and also provides the chance to work collaboratively with faculty and instructors. In this example, a group is given a project to solve a problem. The students formulate their own individual solutions, work as a group, and then consult with the teacher. This changes the classroom dynamic from a traditional (more passive) lecture format, to a situation where the learner and teacher are more engaged. Designing collaborative environments requires the designer to think about space, furniture, and room flexibility. AC power is probably more of a concern than network access, as wireless connectivity is becoming more of a standard for technology spaces. Carefully thinking about the space well in advance of any implementation is essential to provide an environment for effective teaching and learning. Look for more discussions on collaborative spaces in upcoming postings.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Designing Effective Learning Spaces

When you think about redesigning a classroom, it includes much more than just room height, width, and depth. In addition to the traditional measurements, one has to consider how the room matches the teaching and learning activities for the curriculum. For example, does the teaching activities require an interactive U-shaped table, does the activity require a collaborative environment for flexible work group? All of these issues need to be part of the discussion early on in the planning process. Involving key stake holders is very important. Other key elements to consider are lighting, sound reinforcement and insulation, table and chair ergonomics, line of site and projection screen placement, and technology equipment considerations. All of these elements must be considered in an interactive way. If you change or modify one element, it will likely have an impact on others. The key in this process, is frequent discussions well before the architect begins to draw the first wall boundary on paper. You should decide upon on the building or room philosophy, and then work collaboratively to design the most effective learning space to accentuate student learning or training. The extra up front work will pay huge dividends down the road.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Welcome to 2006

Welcome to the new year. As we begin our new spring semester, this blog will begin to devote more time to classroom space design, presentation styles, and how to choose effective and appropriate technology for teaching/learning activities. I encourage you to respond to these posts so you can join in on the discussion forums.

Have a great 2006!