Carrie Donovan, Head of Teaching and Learning, email@example.com
1. Describe the finished teaching or classroom space, including any specifics about furniture or technology that was included in the design.
As part of the redesign this year of our 24/7 Information Commons into a Learning Commons at Indiana University, we designed two classrooms: one traditional and one collaborative. The classrooms are shared by University IT Training and librarians providing research instruction. The traditional classroom positions students at individual workstations seated in tiered rows and was designed by the IT Trainers to match their instructional style. The collaborative classroom is primarily used by the libraries and replaced three classrooms that we had previously in our Information Commons. The classroom policies and schedules are managed collaboratively between the two units (IT and Libraries) and the classrooms are open for students to use, when classes are not scheduled.
2. What were the goals of the re-design or creation of the space?
We wanted to create learning spaces that would be structured to support the instructional goals of IT trainers and library instructors, as well as flexible enough to be useful as student-centered study spaces when classes are not in session. The collaborative classroom is intended to match the group study rooms in the Learning Commons in that it situates students in pairs or small groups to facilitate peer learning and collaboration. The traditional classroom offers individual workstations, so that students can design and create individual projects as they learn new software and technology tools. The instructor’s workstation in each classroom offers special software (insight: http://www.faronics.com/products/insight) that allows instructors to view student workstations, send messages to individual students, or push out URLs, survey questions, or web pages to individuals or the entire class.
3. What strategies did you use to advocate for student learning and active learning pedagogy in the space?
We involved our campus colleagues who design and implement student-centered learning spaces across campus and their expertise was invaluable in identifying appropriate furniture and technologies for the collaborative classroom. The ability to provide concrete examples of other classrooms they had designed that were considered “innovative” and “forward-thinking” by campus leaders and administrators also helped us make the case for why such a space would be important in the library.
4. What lessons did you learn from this experience that you’d most like to share with someone undertaking a similar project?
If you are sharing the classrooms with another unit, I would recommend partnering to draft and approve a policy statement that governs the scheduling, use, and prioritization of the classrooms. Be on-hand as the classrooms are being constructed, if possible, so that you can suggest adjustments or identify issues immediately.
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 collaborative classroom replaced three library instruction classrooms that were essentially computer clusters without walls or doors. With a newly renovated space and improved classrooms as part of the new Learning Commons, the space is more appealing for librarians looking for an available classroom for library instruction or drop-in research workshops. The collaborative classroom is intended to support the transition of librarians’ teaching toward a more learner-centered approach that encourages group engagement and active learning. In addition to designing a classroom to support a shift in pedagogical practice, we also consciously diminished our library instruction spaces from three classrooms to one in order to match the change in our instructional initiatives overall. We are providing incentives for librarians to partner with faculty to influence the design of courses/curricula as a means of integrating information literacy into strategic areas of the disciplines, rather than a complete reliance on the librarian-led one-shot instruction session. So, with this renovation, we wanted to be responsive to the diminishing need for instructional spaces to accommodate one-shot library instruction.