Both students and faculty can now benefit from the updated interactive learning space in the recently renovated room 251 of Alden Library.
The classroom, which seats 42 students, includes six pod units for student collaboration. Each pod has a 48-inch monitor where students can project from the screens on their laptops or smartphones using AirMedia technology. Instructors can also share students’ work with the class on two 55-inch monitors at the front of the room. The space, which previously had desktop computers, now has 25 new laptops.
Chad Boeninger, head of reference and business librarian, recently taught a group of Masters of Business Administration (MBA) students in the new learning lab 251 and blogged about his experience. The students from associate professor and chair of marketing Katherine Hartman’s course were working on a marketing plan for a casual restaurant chain and were preparing to meet with their client the next week. He said using the new space was one of the most positive teaching moments in his 14-year career.
“It challenged me to look at the classroom experience differently,” Boeninger said. “I’ve done similar classes with the same kind of teaching style, but the technology allowed me to showcase better and more effectively what students are working on—both the successes they had in what we were doing, and the troubles they had.”
Hanna Schmillen, subject librarian for health sciences, has taught several groups in the room. She worked with nursing students on formatting clinical questions and taught students in a health policy course about how to find resources for their literature reviews. She said students enjoyed using the lab to prepare for their upcoming projects. The new technology and learning environment are exciting for students, she said.
“Being in a different classroom than their normal classroom sets up the expectations differently,” Schmillen said. “It’s fresh and a little different … [students are] maybe a little more engaged because it’s that new shiny thing.”
Schmillen said the students she worked with enjoyed seeing their peers’ work and learning from each other as well.
“After they get started, they really start to enjoy it,” she said. “The whole group can see one screen, working together, and then at the end of the activity I can take their screens and put it on the three main screens and demonstrate that this is what the group did.”
Boeninger also received positive feedback from faculty. He said the room’s new design allows students to take ownership of their own learning experience while still seeking help from peers and instructors.
“The faculty and the people who coordinated the MBA program were really pleased by the level of interaction with the students. It was a three-hour class session when I used it, which is a long time,” Boeninger said. “Being able to have [students] do the heavy work and the bulk of the lifting and to have me provide the input and feedback made the three hours more useful and more worthwhile.”
Faculty can contact the subject librarian in their field for more information on library instruction, or they can reserve the room for their class. During non-peak library times, or when the room is not reserved, room 251 is available for patrons to use for their own studies and group work.