Scott Nygren Scholars Studio, University of Florida

Missy Clapp, Library West Instruction & Outreach Coordinator, Associate University Librarian,

1. Describe the finished teaching or classroom space, including any specifics about furniture or technology that was included in the design. 

The finished space was once a regular lecture style classroom with a drop-down screen and ceiling-mounted projector. The redesign included replacing that old media with a 90 inch HD monitor at the front and a 70 inch touchscreen monitor on the side wall. We attached a computer to the touchscreen monitor and added two dual-monitor workstations. Otherwise, the room operates under the BYOT standard—bring your own technology. The technology design included the full Adobe Creative Suite and other digital humanities-friendly software, such as Oxygen XML for TEI projects. It is possible to present from one’s mobile device to one or both screens by using Crestron AirMedia, as well. The large screens operate from a small touchscreen monitor located on the podium. The computer monitor on the podium is also a touchscreen. The remaining empty wall was coated with green chalkboard paint to encourage analog play. The furniture needed to be moveable. We acquired colorful chairs and tables with casters to make large group presentation as well as small group discussion possible.

2. What were the goals of the re-design or creation of the space?

The goals of the redesign were to create a flexible learning and teaching environment, as well as to provide a digital humanities/scholarship lab space. This classroom is multi-functional in this respect. Before, the chairs were very small, uncomfortable, and has swing-up arm and notebook rests that were too small to be functional. Undergraduates didn’t seem to mind but graduate students, staff, and faculty disliked the furniture.

3. What strategies did you use to advocate for student learning and active learning pedagogy in the space?

This studio (we renamed it the Scott Nygren Scholars Studio) was already a very popular place for instruction when individual computers were not needed. The change is that we are seeing even more requests for the space because of the new technology. Recently, a PhD candidate in musicology asked if he could defend his dissertation in the space because of how beautifully his video portions would be displayed. And an anthropology professor requested that her students be allowed to present their semester-end videography projects in the space. In planning, we argued that the library greatly needed a more collaborative, flexible learning and teaching space because we simply did not meet those needs before the redesign. The multiple uses of the room, coupled with the sad opportunity we had to name it after one of the library’s favorite English professors who died, were some winning factors. Another point that won over the Deans was how very active students could be in the redesigned space. Students can use the touchscreen alongside the presenter, or they can share their screen with the class from their seats.

4. What lessons did you learn from this experience that you’d most like to share with someone undertaking a similar project?

The hardest lesson learned dealt with time and a middle-man situation. We had to work through our IT department who then worked with a vendor to supply the new podium and large monitors. It took a very long time—a whole year—to get a quote for the room, have it approved, and then get a new quote because the original quote expired, and then complete the room. It would have been wonderful if we had an initial budget going into the project (but, of course, that never happens) and if we didn’t have to work through IT. So, expect the process to take a frustratingly long time, and be aware that somebody who has the technical knowledge of what the library and the students will need should be part of the process (IT).

5. How have changes you made to the classroom changed your teaching?  How have changes you made to the classroom changed your instruction programs?

The changes we have seen relate to the concept of “more.” We are offering more classes and workshops; more requests for that specific room are coming in; more distance learners or workshop attendees can be accommodated; librarians are discovering more ways to present materials and engage students.

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