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.


Rick said...

I have seen the space and the transformation is pretty dramatic. I think that learning and meeting spaces like this can have an effect that reverberates beyond the space itself. As students (or meeting attendees) develop the expectation of easy and extensive collaboration in spaces like this, there may be an understanding that collaborations can continue in less formally structured space. My current project is to understand how we can promote collaboration in the classroom as a gateway for increasing interactivity among students outside the classroom. Working in a space like this would be a good start, I would think.

Unknown said...


I like your thinking here, extending the experience outside the classroom, or as you state, promoting a gateway." I have not come across research in this area, but we may be able to draw some conclusions from how new spaces are used. I will do some further research and investigation into this. Do you have any favorite images or examples of learning spaces you particularly like? I'd be interested.