In February 2011, the College embarked on a year-long process to updates its facilities master plan. Throughout the many meetings and discussions, a central theme of modern, flexible learning spaces emerged. In order to respond to the needs expressed by faculty and students during this process, the College formed the Learning Spaces Task Force.
The Learning Spaces Task Force is comprised of faculty and staff members. They are studying, planning, and will make recommendations on creating new learning spaces at the College. In particular, they are studying the interface between technologies, the configuration of learning spaces, the new ways in which students learn today, and emerging pedagogies.
Studying interfaces involves the relationship between technologies and the physical design of space. Certain classrooms limit the capabilities of faculty. As technology advances, student expectations are constantly increasing. It is becoming standard to have access to power supply and the Internet. While technological challenges must be overcome, LSTF focuses on the overall classroom environment. Features such as the type of furniture students use and the paint color adorning the walls make a difference in the learning experience.
The update of learning spaces involves reconfiguration and renovations. As expansion is limited, LSTF will seek to find pockets of opportunity in existing spaces at the College. Future plans include creating and testing incubator spaces.
In addition to evolving spaces and technologies, the methods by which students learn are also changing. Pedagogy is the study of the process of teaching. The term generally refers to strategies or a style of instruction. LSTF focuses on studying the emerging pedagogies in order to make better decisions that ultimately elevate the learning environment at the College.
For example, the teacher-focused method of learning has shifted to a student-centered or team-based learning method. In this scenario, the teacher acts as a facilitator while students drive the learning experience. Awareness of this shift led to the layout of the new classrooms in the Robert Scott Small building. Classrooms feature Idea Paint, a type of paint that transforms walls into white boards. This allows more active learning and collaboration for students.
Students in the newly renovated Robert Scott Small classrooms utilize Idea Paint.
Idea Paint converts often unused wall space into usable dry erase boards.
Throughout the research and planning process, the Task Force is soliciting input from faculty and staff across campus. This input will be critical as existing classrooms are upgraded and as the College moves toward designing new spaces and facilities. Want to leave feedback? The campus feedback page offers an outlet for comments.
Task Force members are reviewing several articles and studies in order to form the theoretical and practical basis for the future of learning spaces at the College. Items considered to be of significant value to the campus community will be posted on the LSTF web site. If you would like to recommend a particular article, study, or journal, please complete the form located at the bottom of the literature page.
As a part of its process, Task Force members will visit other institutions that have been identified as good models. Results of those trips – summaries, photos, etc. – will be posted to Learning Spaces Task Force web site. If you have a recommendation of a site to contact, please complete the form at the bottom of the case studies page.