MU looks to expand number of 'futuristic classrooms'

Feedback on Strickland 117 has been positive, according to student and faculty surveys.
Strickland Hall has implemented several technological advancements this year with three projectors, interactive whiteboards and progressive swivel chairs in its "Classroom of the Future." As a result of its success, MU is planning on expanding this classroom environment elsewhere on campus.

In the fall 2010 semester, a new technologically advanced classroom opened in Strickland Hall. After a year of use, plans are developing for spreading this new approach to a classroom to other facilities across campus.

The new classroom utilizes a set of three projection screens, “Node” tablet armchairs that help students follow the instruction easier, interactive whiteboards and Tegrity lectures.

“It's important to focus on discussion within the classroom between students and faculty instead of it being an instance of one person speaking in the front of the room,” Space Planning and Management Director Heiddi Davis said.

Davis said they used a survey for faculty and students to see the effect of the classroom.

“We’ve had great responses and we're getting ready by creating a survey for teachers and students for the spring semester,” Davis said.

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Jim Spain said other forms of review included emails to faculty and listening tours where teachers were asked of their critiques. He said they are planning on student listening tours to get the students’ opinions.

Spain said students liked the multiple projection screens and round design of the room because it helped them interact with each other and the content easier.

He also said the instructors especially liked the rounded, communal design of the room, where there is neither a “front” or a “back,” because it helped them interact with the students.

“The overall response was very positive on both the physical layout of as well as the technology that was available,” Spain said. “The more our faculty uses the technology and the room itself, the more comfortable they will become with it.”

Davis said there is progress in implementing these ideas in Tate Hall, where a radial pattern for the tables is being considered. She said the tables will be fixed and will be able to process computer data, but the chairs will be capable of movement to administer to both the group and lecture atmosphere.

“In every building, there will be a little bit different of a situation,” David said. “We won't take one room and copy it everywhere”

Graduate student Thomas Coleman, who teaches an introductory mathematics course in Strickland 117, said he does not use the new technologies. All he needs is the whiteboard and a marker.

Spain said differing needs for different academic disciplines is an important aspect to think about.

“There are certain disciplines that are going to require different types of education technology support,” Spain said.

Spain said they are going to need to heavily consider this when designing and re-designing the classroom atmosphere.

Davis said that as more funding becomes available, more projects will be considered to develop more technologically advanced rooms across MU’s campus.

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