University officials are hoping that the three renovated classrooms will spark discussions regarding what kind of technology, flexible furniture, and writing surfaces will cultivate collaboration and active learning for students.
By Susan Enright.
Three classrooms at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo have been transformed into spacious, interactive learning spaces supported by technology the current generation of university students uses as naturally as previous generations used overhead projectors. The university has brought three pilot classrooms into the 21st century where learning spaces are designed for students to get plugged in, flip open laptops, interact freely with each other and professors, absorb information from smart 3-D screens and sound bar systems, and write down ideas in myriad places from computer screens to whiteboards to old fashioned paper.
The project is part of the UH System goal to create 21st Century Facilities and “modernize facilities and campus environments to be safe, sustainable and supportive of modern practices in teaching, learning and research,” and is the first step in the development of a formal UH Hilo 21st century classroom plan. Future plans aim to identify the shortcomings of existing classrooms, consult with the campus community to understand UH Hilo’s unique learning objectives, create standards and guidelines for the transformation of outdated classrooms into modern spaces appropriate for current students, and define the technology infrastructure needed to support modern classrooms such as the three in the pilot.
“This pilot project is the first step towards faculty and student driven active learning classroom designs,” says Brenda Hamane, director of special projects at the UH Hilo Office of Administrative Affairs. “We are hoping that the three renovated classrooms will spark discussions regarding what kind of technology, flexible furniture, and writing surfaces will cultivate collaboration and active learning. As future classroom buildings are renovated, feedback from this pilot project, and future faculty and student focus group discussions will facilitate the conversion of existing traditional classrooms into 21st century classroom designs that support an active learning classroom environment.”
Learn more about the concept of interactive learning environments in the video below:
During the recent short planning period, a small group of UH Hilo administrators, faculty and students selected three versions of flexible classrooms designed to support active learning as part of this initial pilot project. Drew Martin, former interim dean of the College of Business and Economics, supported this innovative project and initiated the focus group involved in the planning and design of the classrooms.
Also part of the planning were Kolin Kettleson, director of UH Hilo Auxiliary Services; Gene Harada, a professor at the Hawai‘i Community College carpentry program; Royd Liu, an information technology specialist from the UH System; Dave “Moku” Baptiste, UH Hilo Computing Center; Sunny Walker, UH Hilo Information Technology Specialist and Webmaster; and Matt Baldwin, media design and production specialist at the UH Hilo Office of Campus Technology.
Subsequent classroom planning will include a broader and larger planning group as well as campus-wide input and involvement. A survey will be provided in late September to faculty and students using these pilot classrooms to obtain valuable feedback on the classrooms.
The three classrooms selected for the pilot project are in Kanakaole Hall because there are no plans to renovate that classroom building within the next five years and existing outdated furniture was in need of replacement. The classroom size in the building is large enough to create the active high tech learning spaces.
“Each classroom (chosen for the project) in Kanakaole Hall—built circa 1970s—was designed with a different layout and furniture set to learn what arrangements work best for our students and their professors,” says Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai, who approved funding for the 21st Century Classroom Pilot Project with a one-time allocation of Administrative Affairs lapsing funds earlier this year when she previously served as vice chancellor for administrative affairs.
The project was expedited in order to roll out the new classrooms at the beginning of 2017 fall semester.
“Although we had only a month to plan and procure, and two months to implement, it was an opportunity that Administrative Affairs could not pass on,” explains Hamane. “Thanks to a committed project team who went above and beyond on this project, and Tam Vu, interim dean of the College of Business and Economics, and Michael Bitter, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who seamlessly provided support midway through this project, we were able to deliver three versions of active learning classrooms for faculty and students to experience during fall semester.”
The new classroom designs in the three Kanakaole Hall rooms are as follows (click on photos to enlarge):
Room 126: New vinyl flooring, roller shades, fresh coat of paint, additional electrical outlets for student electronic devices, flexible chevron tables and five-star mobile chairs (including ADA compliant tables, and armless larger chairs), 85-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart 3D LED TV and BOSE soundbar system, compact lectern with PC and monitor, document camera, HDMI laptop connector, DVD/CD, four-port USB hub, instructor table, five mobile porcelain white boards, and three wall mounted porcelain whiteboards.
Room 127: New vinyl flooring, roller shades, fresh coat of paint, additional electrical outlets for student electronic devices, flexible 360° tablet arm chairs (including ADA compliant tables, and armless larger chairs), 85-inch 4K HD Smart 3D LED TV and BOSE soundbar system, compact lectern with PC and monitor, document camera, HDMI laptop connector, DVD/CD, four-port USB hub, instructor table, four mobile glass boards, and four wall mounted glass boards.
Room 128: New vinyl flooring, roller shades, fresh coat of paint, six peninsula tables with 50-inch TV/Monitor mounts, mobile mesh back chairs (tables and chairs ADA compliant, armless larger chairs), compact lectern with PC and monitor, document camera, HDMI laptop connector, DVD/CD, four-port USB hub, instructor table, four mobile glass boards, and one mobile porcelain white board.
About the author: Susan Enright is a public information specialist in the Office of the Chancellor. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.
-UH Hilo Stories.