Page 21 - Campus Technology, May/June 2018
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3) Look for Ways to Beg and Borrow
One way the college kept to a lean budget was by leveraging existing modular furniture that made up the space. A faculty member had acquired rolling chairs and tables through a grant for a program that only ran in the summer, leaving the equipment available “for us to use in the fall and spring,” said Round.
That meant the $12,000 budgeted for the experimental space could be dedicated to technology — multiple LED flat panel displays and an Apple iPad for each “pod” (the name given to the workspace groups where students teamed up). The iPads were kept in a locker in the room, “so they don’t walk,” said Round, and were made available to students acting as scribes for their groups, lacking their own devices or needing to head out for field work.
4) Let Faculty Sell Faculty
The first wave of interest came from those instructors who had already expressed a desire to teach in new ways. “For our initial folks, it seemed like a really easy fit,” Round noted.
During the subsequent summer institute, those professors shared some of the projects they’d undertaken. “We find we have the best luck when faculty are presenting to other faculty,” she added. Those efforts had the expected effect: The examples helped woo others who were “going to need a little bit of support” in adapting their activities from a traditional lecture space.
When the active learning space wasn’t hosting a class, the IT&D team would find groups of students using the room as a study space or to get ready for exams.
5) Monitor Student Reaction
Initial feedback from students was entirely informal and highly positive. Round would position herself outside the room, where she could hear students’ reactions as they entered. “They’d say, ‘Wow, we’re going to be in here?’ You could tell they were really excited.”
Later, she began to see students “voting with their feet.” When the space wasn’t hosting a class, the IT&D team would find groups of students using the room as a study space or to get ready for exams, where they could “throw up” documents and study guides on the displays and work on projects together.
6) Cut the Cord as Instructors Are Ready
While the classroom operations were very much “push- button,” said Round, faculty members needed time to get
comfortable with the technology. Eventually, one enthusiastic instructor became adept enough to troubleshoot problems on his own in the experimental room. Because he no longer needed the tech support help, he asked IT&D if he could book the space all semester. Round’s response: “Fine with me!”
That was one more clue indicating that the prototype was a success. Armed with anecdotal feedback, the institution pursued grant money to make the space a permanent fixture. The Alden Trust provided $80,000 and the college added an additional $3,000 — enough funding to equip two such classrooms, which opened in January 2016.
The budget also covered the acquisition of Crestron collaboration units to enable multiple users to control what showed up on the big screens. As Round explained, now the instructors could either take over all of the flat panels with what they were presenting, present from a specific student device to all the screens or allow individual groups of students to display their own work to their own screens.
7) Measure Sentiment
With the permanent classrooms in place, the college set about gathering more formal student perceptions of the new spaces. A survey in fall 2016 and spring 2017 found that 84 percent of students believed the active learning classrooms “promoted engagement”; 80 percent said they enriched the learning processes; and 74 percent agreed

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