When is an ordinary classroom no longer just a classroom? For Kim Scott, educational technologist with Baptist College, it’s when she set out to create an interactive, collaborative space where learning is no longer one dimensional.
In the science building at the college, this particular room is void of any rows of chairs all facing one direction. Instead, round tables dot the room in which large touch screen monitors hang on each wall. The tables and chairs are all mobile and equipped to handle multiple mobile devices.
“This space sets up lessons and class work to be highly collaborative,” said Kim.
When senior leaders at the college gave her a mandate to create the new classroom, she didn’t hesitate. From concept to completion took approximately nine months, during which Kim attended tech conferences and relied upon her knowledge gained in previous organizations.
The idea is simple. Students gather in small groups and can display work from their computers, tablets, or phones on monitors posted above the tables. The monitors serve multiple functions including as wifi connections, white boards or black boards. If students want to move to other groups, all they need to do is roll across the room.
“This classroom changes the lecture, instructor-led style of teaching that has traditionally been part of college classrooms for centuries. Instead, the design fosters educational methodologies, such as kinesthetic learning, problem solving, inquiry-based learning and collaborative groups. It also creates a student-centered learning environment where the instructor plays more of a facilitator role,” she said.
Even the tables are designed as sections that can be separated or expanded. The room can accommodate approximately 30 students.
“We piloted our spring classes in here and the teachers and students are excited about the room. We’ve had six to seven instructors express interest for their fall classes,” Kim said.
Because the monitors have internet capability, Kim said the corporate technical teams worked closely with her to provide the right network. “We are on the same network as BMHCC.” Kim also elicited faculty input throughout the process. “We wanted their buy in and suggestions.”
And while formal teaching may be the primary activity, the room could also serve other purposes, including tutoring space and even game night.
“We hope to create another room like this one soon,” she added.