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Creating Collaborative Learning Spaces

Technology and design ideas for more interactive teaching and learning
University Business, June 2018

Collaborative work is key to a student’s success in the workforce of today and tomorrow. Today’s students expect their campus learning spaces to be technology-enabled environments that provide seamless collaboration and wireless connectivity, but creating these spaces can be challenging for institutions, as there are a variety of issues to consider, from room layout to the “digital divide.”

This web seminar discussed some strategies for designing and creating collaborative learning spaces, and how the latest cloud-based, software-based and hardware-based collaboration solutions can help. The discussion focused on campus spaces including lecture halls, classrooms, huddle rooms and conference rooms, to create more interactive teaching and learning experiences for students and faculty.

SPEAKERS

Raymond Pryor
Managing Director of User Services
King’s College (Penn.)

Brien Woodaman
Computer Technical Support Consultant
University of Connecticut

Michael Peveler
Director of Sales, Learning Experience
Barco Education

Michael Peveler: Our biggest challenge continues to be the same no matter where you go in the world: disengaged students. It’s students who are not listening, who are not active, who are not learning, who are not retaining.

One of my favorite studies is from the University of Wyoming, on active learning and how it increases motivation, retention and success. I love this quote: “At this point it’s unethical to teach any other way.” But the challenge is trying to figure out how to implement technology to help be ethical. How do we use technology to engage with students? We want students who are excited to be in class, who are engaged in the content, who can verify their learning, who you can measure engagement with and see that they’re actually involved.

It’s becoming more and more complicated because today we have changing spaces that are continuing to up the demand. Students want to be engaged on their own personal device and teachers want to be able to communicate directly to those personal devices. No longer are students just the receivers, but now they’re delivering information.

Brien Woodaman: Two years ago our faculty and staff were saying that they just didn’t want to be tied to the front of the classroom at the podium with cables anymore. They wanted to move around. They wanted to see what the students were working on and then be able to present their content from their device to the projector while standing next to the students.

The other big point was having student collaboration—having students work in small groups sitting together at a table, sharing their ideas, and then taking those ideas and putting them on the main projector screen for the other groups to see.

We have about a 50/50 mix of Apple and PC users, so we wanted to ensure we could wirelessly present from any platform. Another challenge we faced was that we have lots of guest speakers, and we needed a guest network where those presenters could access their files and present up to our screens. And the biggest thing was being able to allow users to share on screen at the same time.

On the support side, Barco has a great solution in the management suite, and it allows remote firmware updates. You can make sure everything is working, and you can see if someone’s presenting. We also have a custom PC monitoring solution, which we use to ensure everything’s up and running all the time.

wePresent has been a huge, huge tool for us. It let teachers get creative with their lectures and to reimagine the way they were teaching their classes.  

Raymond Pryor: Our philosophy was that if we could find a solution to allow wireless presentation in the classroom, then we’d allow faculty and staff to come in with their own devices and project wirelessly to the screen. We looked at this as a means of budget relief. Computer replacements were deferred for multiple years, so classrooms and labs were reaching the end of their useful life.

Another challenge was to figure out how to work smarter given our decline in resources. And the final problem was that students were looking for collaboration space, and we didn’t have any; they were pretty much going out on the lawns and sitting around with their laptops and having discussions.

Then we found Barco weConnect. We tested about six different products, and weConnect was the first that met our quality of service standards. There was no lag when it came to audio or video, which was very important to our faculty and staff.

We created collaboration pods, which allow all the students to come into the environment and be engaged. There’s a lot of discussion happening. Another benefit is that we actually saw an increase in our business school enrollment within the first semester we implemented, because we were doing demos during tours. The dean of our business school likes to tell the story about the prospective student who saw the demo of the room and then went and made a deposit, which was pretty exciting.

weConnect also allows for more flexibility in the classroom. It gives the faculty members an opportunity to be more creative when it comes to how they’re going to teach the content. We have one faculty member who said that it increased participation among her students and she saw better test scores compared to a class not using weConnect.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, visit universitybusiness.com/ws041718