Providing Teaching and Learning Spaces

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Major Issue:

Teaching and learning spaces on campus must be equipped with technologies that support both the diverse teaching strategies used on campus, and the unique learning styles of students in the new millennium. Flagship 2030 and the Facilities Report of the Boulder Campus Master Plan have both laid out physical space expansion goals for the future, including increasing classrooms and large lecture halls, and discussing innovative solutions to large lecture hall needs by using advanced technologies to co-locate learners. These ideas may be insufficient for meeting the needs for smaller and more specialized learning spaces. Meeting these goals will require flexibility in programs and resources to adapt to changes in technologies and teaching needs across the campus.

Specific Recommendations:

  • A better governance system should be developed that will help set priorities for allocating resources across needs and among emerging technologies to support teaching and learning. This model should include representation from faculty and students along with technology experts.
  • Continue investments to increase the number and percentage of smart classrooms of all sizes, while consulting with faculty members about whether particular rooms may be better served without Smart technology.
  • Develop more spaces for collaboration among students, and between students and faculty in technology and information use. Examples include commons rooms, RAP great rooms, and team rooms that offer connectivity and workspace.
  • Consider providing ample convenience outlets for all new capital construction, and also undertake a retrofitting analysis in older existing teaching and learning spaces. ITS needs to work closely with facilities management on technology choice and installation in infrastructure renovation projects.
  • Due to the increasing proliferation of wireless devices operating on many frequencies and technical specifications, all new campus construction and renovation projects should take account of all wireless technologies that are likely to be present, and should adapt designs as needed to minimize interference within teaching and learning spaces. This must include consideration for wireless/mobile communication to all spaces in the building, including but not limited to radio frequencies commonly used by police/fire/life safety personnel and support staff. Addressing this problem will require extended communication during planning phases of facilities projects.
  • There appear to be sharply increasing specialized audio and video needs across campus for individual and team recording of research results and creative work by both students and faculty. The campus needs to provide more small, private, and sound proofed spaces, which could be located in both academic and residential buildings.
  • There is considerable variation among departments in their needs for and uses of teaching-oriented computer labs but at this time there is no consensus that such labs can be eliminated in favor of relying on student-provided laptops and devices. This heterogeneity implies that ITS should coordinate closely with departments regarding their continued needs in this area. Greater availability and access to application software could reduce some space requirements and provide more flexible and dynamic learning spaces.
  • The current IT procurement model regarding department-controlled spaces is ad hoc and needs reconsideration. Left to their own devices, the departments with more limited resources cannot invest in the technologies needed to support their teaching and learning mission. A more centralized funding model should help support provisioning of standard and emerging technologies in all classroom spaces, including departmental locations. Campus should promote more shared, multifunctional, cross-departmental environments where space is limited.
  • A key function of ITS is to provide software for teaching and learning spaces. The governance body recommended above should actively work with units to understand their evolving needs for centrally purchased software and how it is delivered to student machines, computer labs and department spaces. Some effective approaches would be software Enterprise License Management (ELMs – tools such as e-academy to manage distribution and tracking of institutionally purchased software licenses), and/or keyed, virtual delivery of software and shared licensing on an enterprise level for all of campus to use.
  • There is an increased demand for shared centralized server space and a shared computing canvas for teaching and learning, integrated with research. One useful example would be development of virtual spaces for students and faculty to meet and work.
  • Central scheduling of classrooms and especially computer teaching labs is sometimes inefficient in terms of class sizes and time allocation. While central scheduling is important to retain flexibility, schedulers and ITS should coordinate better with departments on their needs. A task force should be commissioned with stakeholders to develop an action plan to improve space scheduling. This analysis should take into account the needs of all stakeholders, including Central/Academic scheduling, Non-Academic Scheduling (UMC), departmental facility scheduling, and ITS facility scheduling.
  • Determine how spaces can support dynamic learning environments that provide more flexibility and respond to both student driven needs and creative faculty inspired learning environments. Consider implementing more models such as highly interactive virtual environments (HIVEs), peer-to-peer informal learning, clusters, individual work spaces, external work support for off campus, outside, traveling, etc.

Evaluation:

  • Statistics of classroom equipment deliveries to spaces that are not Smart should reduce over time as upgrades are completed. This could improve resource utilization for the campus as a whole.
  • Academic assessments of usage of technology in spaces. A continual evaluation of the current suite of technologies and its perceived value to the University Teaching and Learning mission.
  • Cost savings analyses for providing technologies centrally or in a standards based fashion.
For questions about ITSP, please contact Marin Stanek by email at Marin.Stanek@colorado.edu or phone at 303-735-5225.