Upgrades to Classrooms and Labs

Technology Services is pleased to announce that the technology and furniture in several classrooms and labs are being upgraded this summer. Most of these spaces will be ready by fall semester.

Technology Services is in the process of replacing some old lecterns with adjustable surfaces that follow ADA guidelines, installing new PCs, upgrading equipment, and creating and updating flexible learning spaces. 

These renovations will provide students and faculty with technology that is responsive to their needs, easy to use, and reliable. 

Renovations were guided by faculty feedback and the desire to provide students with high-quality technology.

Technology Services used surveys and interviews to gather data on faculty satisfaction with classroom technology. In spring 2014, Technology Services found that 70% of instructors surveyed want PCs installed in classrooms. Other instructors want to incorporate flexible learning elements into their classes, including movable furniture and multiple screens.

Instructors who teach in the basement of the Foreign Language Building are familiar with the old “phone booth” lectern. Students found it difficult to see their instructors past the lectern. And instructors were not able to easily move around the room while showing a video or giving a presentation

These lecterns are being replaced with lecterns that can be raised or lowered, depending upon the needs of the individual instructor. The upgraded technology in the lecterns includes HDMI inputs, Blu-ray players, and controls for the room’s projector.

Old and new lecterns in FLB basement classroom

Left: old "phone booth" lectern in Foreign Language Building basement classroom; right: new lectern

PC Install in Altgeld HallPCs are also being added to fourteen classrooms where instructors previously needed to bring their own laptops or tablets to use the projection system. These classrooms include:

  • Altgeld Hall 141, 143, 145, 147, 241, 243, 341, 343, 345, 347
  • Henry Administration Building 137, 143, 149
  • Turner Hall N107

Some rooms, like Engineering Hall 106B1, 106B3, 106B6, and 106B8, Gregory Hall 213, Mumford Hall 103 and 313, and Armory 147 and 148 are receiving digital upgrades. HDMI inputs and Blu-Ray players are being added to the current systems, allowing students and faculty to show and use high-quality content in class.

Other rooms like Gregory Hall 112 and Mechanical Science and Engineering Building 305 are receiving full system upgrades, including new lecterns, control panels, and equipment. 

Equipment renovation in Mechanical Science and Engineering Building 305

Flexible learning spaces are also getting a boost. Flexible learning spaces use furniture and technology to put students in charge of the learning process. Chairs with wheels, tables that aren’t nailed down, and multiple wall-mounted screens encourage group work and collaboration. They also allow students to easily share their work with the class.

Huff Hall 209, a flexible learning classroom open to all fields of study, is getting an updated control panel that will be more intuitive for instructors and students to use. Nevada lab is being outfitted with multiple displays and movable furniture.

Tracy Dabbs, who is leading the classroom renovation efforts for Technology Services, says that these upgrades will help instructors by letting them focus on what’s important: teaching.

“The upgrades replace older technology with more reliable systems, which allow faculty to focus on what they can do with the technology instead of the technology itself,” Dabbs says.

Whiteboard with renovations on it

Summer 2015 classroom renovation list

Students are the biggest beneficiaries of these changes. Classrooms and labs also serve as informal study spaces for students. Students attend their classes in these spaces and come back to them in the evenings to study and spend time with friends.

A recent study at the University of Minnesota suggests that flexible learning spaces help boost student performance. When students are able to work together, they learn more, get higher grades, and are more satisfied with their classes.

Oregon and English computer labs, as well as Wohlers 70, were renovated with these results in mind. 

Renovated English Lab

Renovated English Building lab

Renovated Nevada lab

New furniture in Nevada lab

Spaces like Nevada lab also help new students get used to new surroundings. 

Heidi Gharst, who manages Nevada lab and other computer labs on campus, notes that providing new technologies in comfortable learning spaces makes it easier for students to transition from high school to higher education.

“This is what students are expecting,” said Gharst. “They’re coming here from high schools that have this kind of arrangement. It's on a smaller scale in high school, but when they get here, they look for familar things. We want students to do well academically and socially. By creating spaces where it's nice to do homework, or meet with a group, or just spend time with friends, we're helping them be better students."