Group oversees campus classroom upgrades that aim to enhance teaching and learning

Posted by Centre News in Academics, Campus, News 23 Sep 2014

Young 113 Updates PSIn an effort to ensure that all classroom spaces on Centre College’s campus are conducive to effective teaching, learning and collaboration, several staff members joined forces to streamline the classroom upgrade process.

The Teaching and Learning Spaces Working Group was formed last fall and has directed updates regarding technology, furniture, lighting and other educational resources in more than 14 classrooms in Crounse, Grant, Olin, Young and Sutcliffe halls over the past year.

Classroom Renovations 2014The group is composed of key staff members from the Office of Academic Affairs, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Information Technology Services (ITS), Facilities Management, the Registrar’s Office and the Finance Office.

“Since each of these offices is strategically involved in the maintenance, upgrade and functioning of the classroom spaces on campus, it seemed fitting to work together to ensure that these spaces improve to a level that our students and faculty expect, and that the administration can support,” explains Glazier-McDonald.

One of the group’s most important tasks was compiling a detailed inventory of each classroom, noting when past upgrades were made and what remains to be done. From the inventory, the group prioritized the upgrades that were to be addressed before the start of the fall academic term.

“We walked through every single classroom space that we have and made a list of everything we thought was necessary to raise those classrooms to the proper level to meet all of our criteria,” says Glazier-McDonald.

According to Kristi Burch, academic technology specialist for the CTL a member of the group, functionality, flexibility and state-of-the-art technology were top of mind.

“We were able to make significant improvements to classrooms across campus in terms of technology upgrades, student seating, lighting, paint, instructor furniture and software availability,” says Burch.

She adds that these improvements were not simply about modernizing the spaces; the changes to each classroom are intended to directly impact and enhance the learning experience.

“By creating flexible teaching and learning environments, students are able to experience increased collaboration, growth and learning opportunities,” says Burch.

For example, replacing tablet armchairs with mobile swivel desks better facilitates group work; increased white board space allows for more effective instruction; and additional lighting aids with the reading and writing that takes place in the classroom.

In addition to important smaller-scale updates in a number of classrooms, the group also had a hand in the more comprehensive upgrading of the Young 113 lecture hall (pictured above), which received an entirely new technology system, increased lighting options and new stadium seating. Not only is the space now more user friendly and visually appealing but also it can hold more occupants, and is being used for more classes as a result.

The group also created a new classroom space in the basement of Boles Hall that is fully equipped with new technology, white board space and mobile swivel desks, and will be ready for use in the spring term.

While the group has made excellent progress, Glazier-McDonald emphasizes that there is more to be done. The group’s prioritized list of classroom upgrades is not yet complete, and it plans to reassess each classroom on a yearly basis.

“We will make what improvements we can as we can make them,” Glazier-McDonald assures. “I really think this is a step in the right direction.”

by Caitlan Cole