Hobart and William Smith Colleges - HWS Awarded Innovative Classrooms Grant
The HWS Update
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HWS Awarded Innovative Classrooms Grant

A grant of more than $115K has been awarded to the HWS Innovative Classrooms Initiative from the New York State Higher Education Capital (HECap) Matching Grant Program.

The HWS Innovative Classrooms Initiative, designed to explore the impact that technologies and furnishings within classroom spaces have on student learning and engagement, has received funding of more than $115K from the New York State Higher Education Capital (HECap) Matching Grant Program.

The funds will enable outfitting up to eight classrooms with technology, equipment and furniture.

The Innovative Classrooms Initiative was launched in the summer of 2014; planners and participants have included the FacIT Committee, IT Services, the Registrar’s Office, Buildings & Grounds, the Board of Trustees, more than 20 faculty and hundreds of students.

An anchoring component of the initiative is the Innovative Teaching and Technology Studio (ITTS) in Demarest Hall, which serves as a pedagogy incubator space with flexible furnishings and technologies. The ITTS allows faculty to explore emerging digital tools and media integration, facilitate student collaboration and presentation across multiple screens and leverage mobile classroom furnishings to promote active learning.

Director of Digital Learning Juliet Boisselle explains that “each semester, faculty apply to the FacIT Committee to teach in the ITTS and, in doing so, agree to work closely with members of IT Services and reflect upon their experience. Faculty and students are looking for this design and other innovative classroom features to be replicated elsewhere on campus to expand impact,” which will be facilitated by the HECap grant.

Boisselle says the grant is an outcome of six years of exploration and discovery catalyzed by the HWS Innovative Classrooms Initiative. “We are thrilled that the grant and the generosity of the HWS community will enable recommendations for expansion of this initiative to enhance our existing learning environments across campus,” she says, noting that the three-year rollout will be “as collaborative as ever.”

Associate Professor of Geoscience Nick Metz (pictured above), who serves as Chair of FacIT, says “the technology in the ITTS allows faculty to be truly innovative with their teaching; students are the beneficiaries of the use of cutting edge technology. It has been so exciting to watch this initiative progress and the new grant will allow for use of these technologies in additional spaces across campus which will have a tremendous positive impact on the HWS student body.”

Matching funds for the grant were provided by donations from the HWS Board of Trustees. “We are deeply grateful to the Board for their commitment to our Innovative Classroom Initiative,” says Vice President for Advancement Bob O’Connor P’22, P’23. “Their support allows us to make these critical enhancements.”

A total of 35 private colleges were awarded $57.2 million in the current round of HECap funding. For the first time, every grant application received was awarded. Since the program’s inception in 2008, HECap grants have created more than $1 billion in infrastructure spending across New York State.

For more information about the ITTS, click here. For inquiries about the Innovative Classrooms Initiative, contact Boisselle at jhboiselle@hws.edu.