Classroom configuration in Humanities will likely look different by next academic year

Classroom likely to be converted   into ‘collaborative learning space’


Classroom configuration in the Humanities building will likely look different by the start of next academic year.

The departure of English Language Services (ELS) means three rooms on the third floor will resume being normal classrooms, while Humanities 231, the likely subject of Augustana’s yearly Innovation in Pedagogy using Technology (IPT) Grant, will become a collaborative learning space fit with new monitors and furniture.

Dan Drenkow, director of information systems, said the large room with excess HVAC noise could be used best as something other than a traditional classroom.

“It’s a tough [space] to do a large classroom in well, and so rather than turn it back into a classroom we thought it’d be a good spot for a learning space in the building,” Drenkow said.

Drenkow envisions classes or groups of students temporarily gathering in the room for discussions and work that requires uploading technology onto monitors.

“We think that would probably get a lot more use and be a better use of that space than making it into another classroom again,” Drenkow said.

Dan DrenkowHe said faculty within Humanities are excited by the idea, a sentiment humanities division chair Jeffrey Miller affirmed.
Miller said the biggest obstacles in making the space useful  are scheduling and security. He said that the near-constant presence of students on the second floor, with the
Mirror, Edda and Writing Center offices all on it, makes safety a lesser concern, but it still must be considered.

“It’s not particularly a place where things could go bad or where people are going to go in and smash the screens,” Miller said. “But that’s a discussion we need to have.”

Miller thinks First Year Seminar classes could benefit from the collaboration opportunities which the room would provide.

“It [would be] an ideal space for any class that’s working on group stuff for that matter because you can just plug your iPhones or laptops or whatever in and project it and you can all sit there and sort of play around with it,” Miller said.

Dean of Faculty Jerry Jorgensen said he supports the idea of the $10,000 grant, a portion of his budget, going toward refurbishing the room.

“I am supportive of exploring how we can make this learning space better for our students,” he said in an email.

Drenkow said the room may not be furnished with plush chairs and couches like in the Froiland Science Complex and Madsen Center, but that the furniture would be upgraded, too.

“There, the furniture exceeds most of the costs of the technology,” Drenkow said of those buildings. “But we thought even if we just had comfortable chairs … and tables you could work on, that you could gather around, that could work.”

Drenkow said the committee which assigns the proceeds has yet to determine where the funds will go, but Miller sees that as a formality.

“My understanding was they have $10,000 to spend, they want to spend it on this project, it’s OK with us to spend it on this project,” Miller said.

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