Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Experimental classroom is cool but not yet the future

BUS 318, which for the last 18 months has been our
"experimental classroom"
Even though I have been writing about the programming process for just the past few weeks, the process actually started a long time ago – 18 months ago to be precise. That was when we formed the advisory team to start working on our recommendations for classrooms for the new building.

I asked for volunteers from the faculty of the school and got a tremendous response. Several senior professors volunteered to help. We also have some junior professors on the team who are very in tune with what can be done with modern technology in the classroom. We have at least one professor from every department. In other words, we have great representation from across the school.

We took one of our “worst” classrooms (as determined by the faculty) and decided to completely redo it. We wanted to test all sorts of different things in this classroom. So, we put in the following features:

Movable tables and chairs
• Portable furniture – including portable chairs and tables – so the professor can easily re-configure the class at a moment’s notice.

• Four projectors – so the professor and/or students can project different things at the same time.

• An experimental white board known as an Egan board which is supposed to work well both as marking surface and as a projection surface.

• White boards on the threeother walls in the room so there are white boards on all four walls.

Four projectors
• An in-ceiling, document camera.

• We buried the classroom technology in the corner of the room, out of the way, and then built a portable podium that connected to the technology only through a WiFi connection.

We worked with the campus classroom scheduling people to make sure that the faculty members on the advisory team were assigned to teach in the experimental classroom this past academic year.

Believe it or not, not all of these experimental items worked well. Some big hits include the portable furniture, multiple projectors (although four may be too many), white boards on all four walls, the fact that we moved the technology off to the side, and the portable WiFi podium.

We also experienced some problems: the students complained that the portable chairs were uncomfortable, the Egan board didn’t work well as either a marking surface or a projection surface – and it got bubbles on the surface, and the document camera failed to perform up to specifications.

Thanks to the faculty members on this advisory team who researched features and then worked through all the problems. We now have a real good idea of what we want to put into the classrooms in the new building.

- Ken Snyder

1 comment:

  1. I love that you're experimenting, not just drawing plans. You're the man Ken