Educause Quarterly has an article in their most recent issue about technology learning spaces–more specifically, a technology-enhanced learning studio implemented at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), one of our sister campuses. According to authors Jim Tom, Kenneth Voss, and Christopher Scheetz, their project was an unqualified success, leading to increased student and faculty satisfaction with the learning process. However, it is still too early to determine what, if any, impact there may be on the overall student learning outcomes.
The space they designed is very similar to a number of ongoing projects the Educational Technology team is currently working on here on this campus. The first technology-enhanced learning space with all the bells and whistles was in University Center 105. Although it still has a lot of great features (and is solidly booked all the time for classes), it is starting to show some significant wear and tear. The laptop machines also need to be upgraded to keep up with the changing technology. EdTech is working on improving this learning space and also to develop newer learning spaces on campus with the active cooperation of various departments.
The UMSL learning space described in the article had a number of specific goals it had to meet:
* Be flexible to accommodate differences in teaching and learning styles, activities, and content.
* Be social spaces that enable collaboration and interactivity during class time [or outside of class time — EdTech]
* Address creature comforts and ambiance because these can enable learning in significant ways
* Ensure that equipment, facilities, and furniture are accessible to students and teachers and comply with regulations derived from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Missouri S&T Educational Technology is also working to create learning spaces that meet these goals. We have a number of projects in progress for 2008. We are upgrading Physics 104, creating a new space for the Civil Engineering department, adding a new Faculty Learning Studio in Norwood 208, upgrading the new learning space in Toomey Hall (the new Mechanical Engineering Building), and redesigning Engineering Management 222.
We have already transformed Computer Science 212/213 into a very comfortable study lounge that gives students the opportunity to use the same technology on collaborative projects as their instructors use in the classroom. Indeed, CS 212/213 gets quite a bit of use–I almost never see it empty during the semester–and it is a very good place for students to work together on group projects.
We have also upgraded the Language Learning Lab in Humanities and Social Sciences (I think it is Room 202). The foreign language instructors love it because it allows students to record themselves speaking their new foreign language and also allows them to hear themselves speaking it as well.
If your department is interested in creating a new learning space on campus, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to work with you.