California Lutheran University students should be very excited for what the school has in store for them in the near future.
Imagine attending a class where the teacher doesn’t use the traditional way of teaching by lecturing but instead uses technology to address the class and everything is hands-on.
The Cal Lutheran Facility Operations and Planning team is working on a new project that will hopefully benefit both the students and instructors at Cal Lutheran. The project is called The Flexible Learning Classroom.
The idea came from Julius Bianchi, who is now retired after serving as Cal Lutheran’s associate director of Information Technology, according to Cynthia DeMartino, who is the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Cal Lutheran.
“He’s the one that might have spearheaded it. I was brought on board after it was already proposed and to help with the designing of it and I will be there to help the faculty utilize the space properly,” DeMartino said.
There will be six flat-screen televisions, one projector in the front of the room and six work stations which are white board tables so students will be able to take notes with their group and write down ideas as they please, according to Britton Briscoe, project manager at Cal Lutheran.
“We know from research that students learn a lot better when they’re collaborating with their peers, when they’re hands-on and engaged in something,” DeMartino said.
There will also be large white boards in between each of the work stations and a space on the front wall that is made of storefront glass that students can write on, according to Briscoe.
The room can also be configured to a circular conference table format with all the tables and chairs on casters making everything mobile. The tables can be set up in a D-shape with three small groups, or they can be set up in a traditional format where everyone is facing the classroom, according to Briscoe.
“At Cal Lutheran we’re always trying to be very cutting-edge and we really focus on how good we can help facilitate the learning process,” DeMartino said. “We’ll see how successful it is and how the students respond to it and how the faculty uses it, but we’re hoping that this is just the beginning and we’ll be able to get more spaces like that and students will be doing much more active learning in the classroom.”
According to Briscoe, there is also going to be a lot of technology within the working stations that they have never had in a traditional classroom. There will be eight power outlets in the floor, 12 power receptacles along the entire wall and a lot of visual display.
“Its got TVs at each of the tables. Its got laptop carts so its outfitted for 36 students (36 laptops) and basically each student can plug in the laptop into their table and be able to switch and share what they’re working on on their laptop displaying on the television,” Briscoe said.
Instead of teaching in the traditional way, the professors can make use of all the advanced technology that the classroom comes with, such as the ability to switch over to other students’ screens and see what they’re working on and help them hands-on, according to Briscoe.
“We know that while lectures can be entertaining they’re are not really sufficient ways to learn. It’s kind of like watching TV versus playing a video game where you’re hands-on and you’re doing something,” DeMartino said.
The project has been going on since last summer and the classroom is starting to make significant progress.
“By fall semester it would be fully functional and have classes scheduled and will be completely utilized,” Britton said.
Christopher Miller, a senior at Cal Lutheran, does most of his work in the library and he is a supporter of being more hands-on in the classrooms. He thinks the new classroom style can be a huge success at Cal Lutheran.
“Although I’m graduating this May, I think that the new classroom/study room can help the students out a lot due to the benefits that the old study rooms and traditional classrooms didn’t really provide,” Miller said. “It will also give students a better way of learning and it will make going to class somewhat fun with all the technology that is being incorporated into the room. I think it’s pretty neat.”
The Flexible Learning Classroom in the library is something to look out for on the Cal Lutheran campus.
Published February 18th, 2015