Home' Campus Technology : November 2012 Contents CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | November 2012
LIBRARIES ARE ALSO RETHINKING how design affects collaboration---and vice
versa. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point library has teamed up with the
campus information technology team to create a Learning Commons environment,
providing a variety of collaborative learning spaces ranging from small-group,
specialized presentation rooms to larger, open spaces.
System librarian Terri Muraski, who spoke about the project at the Campus Technology
2012 conference, describes how one area of the library has been reimagined as an
"Idea Studio." Converted from a former reserved-book collection area, it now serves
both students and faculty as a collaborative workspace, complete with digital viewing,
computer, video production, and digital projection capabilities. Featuring small tables
that can be easily moved, the room is used for classes, study groups, and student
organizations. Often, students work on a document together, editing on a big screen.
Other collaborative spaces were created in the Reference Room and on the library's
second and fourth floors. "New presentation rooms were created to facilitate student
and faculty presentation practice and production," Muraski notes.
In addition, all the group rooms on the third and fourth floors have been renovated
and the technology has been updated. A "Food for Thought Café" is now front and
center in the library, with furniture that enables collaborative work. "As libraries evolve,
we have to look at our spaces," Muraski says, "and share responsibilities with others on
campus for empowering faculty and students."
was positive. Both groups rated the ALCs very high in terms
of engagement, enrichment, flexibility, effective use, and
course-room fit. In focus groups, faculty and students
emphasized the ease of conducting collaborative-learning
activities in the ALCs, and the usefulness of the round
tables, multiple whiteboards, and display screens for col-
More significantly, the data showed that students in the
new spaces exceeded final grade expectations relative to
their ACT scores, suggesting that features of the technology-
enhanced classrooms contributed to students' learning.
New Furniture Designs
The difficulty of conducting activity-based learning in tradi-
tional classrooms has not been lost on furniture designers.
"If you want to create a learning environment, we think the
right approach is to start with what you are trying to accom-
plish," explains Sean Corcorran, general manager of Steel-
case Education Solutions, "and then choose the technology
and space to support that."
Steelcase has developed classroom solutions with names
such as Verb and Node to respond to the need for mobile,
flexible, comfortable furniture. "We were finding support
among education customers for...furniture that supports
teamwork, so we put a chair on casters and added the
capability to swivel 360 degrees," notes Corcorran. "That
supports dialogue and a sense of
community, and allows [students] to
follow the conversation more easily."
The Node chairs also feature a
place to put a backpack, so it's not
on the floor blocking movement.
The University of Michigan has
experimented with several types of
furniture, including piloting Steel-
case's Node chairs with a dozen
faculty members. "We took what
we learned from that pilot and
expanded on it with a variety of
chair and table types, including
Herman Miller furniture," Dressler
says. Central to the school's strat-
egy is the principle of flexibility. "We
want faculty to be able to change
the class from tables of two or four
students in half-moon shapes in
one class session to one giant U-shaped group the next."
UM also has a writing class using Steelcase's media:scape
product, which allows students to display content from their
PCs, tablets, and other devices on a single high-definition
screen. The class of 24 uses four media:scapes, with six
students per table. The students research and write indi-
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