Some faculty and students will have the opportunity to start their academic year in the University’s brand new FlexTech classroom, which features state-of-the-art technology in a collaborative learning environment.
Room 442 in Fisher Hall was designed by the University’s Media Services and Distribution Center and incorporates cutting-edge technology, problem-based learning and simulations in a space designed expressly for these types of collaborations. A similar classroom that features the FlexTech concept was created in Room 308 of Rockwell Hall earlier this year.
The FlexTech classroom in Fisher Hall includes seven fixed tables with six swivel chairs each, providing space for up to 42 students. While a screen and podium serve as focal points at the front of the room, wall-mounted monitors and computers at each table provide the heartbeat of the operation. These are not only computers, they’re PCs with accoutrements: USB chargers, wireless Internet and additional connectivity to add two laptops at each pod, allowing work from the laptops also to be seen on the group’s monitor with the touch of a ClickShare device.
Miller credits the team of Media Services Manager Lauren Turin and colleagues Todd Hughes, Todd Russell and Andy Beasom with the innovations in the classroom as well as making the design work. “This room took an amazing amount of research and planning to come in under budget and be a showcase for a technology-based student-learning and collaborative environment,” Miller said.
A special capability in this FlexTech room can beam one group’s screen to another group’s or to every monitor in the room. This allows either participants in select groups—or everyone in the room—to see the work from another team. With a split-screen function, the monitors can show images from up to four monitors simultaneously.
The sleek glass tables also function as white boards with dry erase markers. A table and whiteboard at the back of the room provide a conferencing area for small groups.
All of the computer screens are easy to see, thanks to energy-efficient and eye-friendly LED lighting, said Mike Armijo, project manager from facilities management. The renovation—completed in-house—made the most of recycled components like the tables, so it was both environmentally and budget-friendly.
Both Miller and Provost Dr. Timothy Austin observed that the space will require faculty to adapt their teaching delivery to the FlexTech space. Turin agreed. “It’s not a place where you will have a regular lecture,” said Turin, whose team is responsible for classroom technology. “It’s a place where creativity and innovation can flourish in both teaching and learning.”
Summing up the potential value that this classroom brings to the campus, Austin pointed out that great facilities do more than just meet current needs. “They lead faculty members and students to see opportunities they had never suspected and can actually change the way teachers teach and students learn,” said Austin.
Faculty and staff are invited to see the new FlexTech classroom and its capabilities at an open house on Friday, Sept. 5, from 2 to 4 p.m. Training sessions will be planned to facilitate use of the technology to its greatest advantage.
The Fisher FlexTech classroom is available for use across the University’s schools and can be reserved through the registrar’s office.