Page 31 - Campus Technology, May/June 2019
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Converting general-purpose classrooms to active learning spaces can be tricky. Funding is always tight. Often the cam- pus group responsible for furniture acquisition and maintenance is separate from the IT group, so furniture and classroom technology are pur- chased and managed separately. Some faculty members may feel threatened by the new lay- outs or feel that they are being asked to change the way they teach. Finally, active learning spac- es almost always require more square footage per student, which means a room that once held 60 students might only hold 45 in an active setup with moveable furniture. Registrar’s offic- es can be hesitant to give up those seats.
Campus Technology spoke with executives at four universities about their approach to rede- signing spaces for active learning. Each has developed a process for doing a needs assess- ment; gaining buy-in from faculty, students and administrators; and assessing the impact of the new classroom designs.
Doing the Research
When Laurie Fox, assistant director and manag- er for educational technology at SUNY Geneseo, embarked on a project to assess 80 general- purpose classrooms on the upstate New York campus, she began with two resources for learning space design: Educause’s Learning Space Rating System (LSRS) and the Flexible Learning Environments Exchange, or FLEX- space. LSRS provides a set of criteria to help universities assess how well their classrooms support and enable active learning, while FLEX- space offers detailed examples of learning spac- es that have been redesigned.
Fox used the LSRS to rate the existing 80 classrooms, and on the FLEXspace website she bookmarked examples of classroom designs she and colleagues liked. “We became what we called shovel-ready for when we had the bud- get to begin classroom upgrades,” she recalled. “One of the tenets of the Learning Space Rating System is that you communicate regularly with 31
There’s a lot more to creating active learning spaces than bringing in new furniture and moving seats around. Here’s how four universities have analyzed their classroom needs, tested new ideas, redesigned spaces and assessed the results.
By David Raths
Photos: Lars Sahl

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