This semester, students and faculty in six courses across a variety of disciplines had the opportunity to use the first two of the Colleges’ “Innovative Classrooms.” Each received upgraded furnishings and technology this summer as part of the Innovative Classrooms project, a collaboration between the FacIT Committee, the Classroom Committee, IT Services and the Board of Trustees Technology Committee.
Proposals were accepted in the spring and FacIT awarded grants to upgrade two existing spaces on campus, partially funding two of the proposals. The former PeopleSoft Learning Center (PLC) and the Fisher Center each received physical and technical upgrades. The PLC was renamed the Innovative Teaching and Technology Studio and the Fisher Center was converted into a Smart Classroom to expand its capabilities and assign classes that fall within the scope of the mission of the Fisher Center. Additionally, digital learning consultants worked with faculty to provide ongoing support throughout the semester.
The Innovative Teaching and Technology Studio (ITTS), Demarest 002, serves as a pedagogy “incubator” space for faculty to explore emerging digital tools, facilitate student presentation of work across multiple screens and leverage flexible classroom furnishings. The upgrade was in response to a proposal submitted by Assistant Professor of Media and Society Lisa Patti and Assistant Professor of Media and Society Leah Shafer, both of whom have taught in the studio this semester. By design, this exploratory classroom changes in configuration, technology and physicality on a regular basis in order to facilitate opportunities for faculty to explore new pedagogical methods, technology and media integrations.
“Our intent in submitting the proposal was to create a lab space that would facilitate student research and hands-on work in the classroom space. We are particularly interested in emphasizing active, collaborative and public models of research and teaching,” explains Shafer.
“The current ITTS configuration enables students to work together on research and production projects at wired workstations,” says Patti. “The layout of the classroom encourages discussion and collaboration. It is an ideal classroom environment for small group projects.”
IT Services coordinated with outgoing Fisher Center Director and Professor of Dance Cadence Whittier to convert the Fisher Center. This initiative entailed retrofitting an older architectural space on campus that serves a dual role as a student activity and event environment. Professor of Dance Donna Davenport, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies Michelle Martin-Baron, and Fisher Center Predoctoral Fellow Lezlie Frye have taught classes in the Center this semester.
“I have been teaching my FSEM, Thinking & Creating, in the Fisher Center for many years due to the room’s open space and unique architecture. Now that the room has technological capabilities, so much more is possible in terms of creative teaching and learning. My students love it,” says Davenport.
The faculty who taught in the classrooms during their inaugural semester participated in a monthly discussion group, offering reflections and feedback on their teaching experiences in these upgrade spaces with representatives from the FacIT and Classroom Committees as well as the Center for Teaching and Learning.