During the Spring of 2014 I was the Title III Grant Director and an Assistant Professor of Education at York College (York, Nebraska). In the final phase of a 5-year, $2,000,000 grant our last project was to renovate one of our older buildings on campus and create three state-of-the-art learning spaces. At the time of this last phase of the grant I was teaching a class titled EDU 373 Instructional Technologies. Being a passionate proponent of experiential learning I decided to have my class, along with my facilitation, design the learning spaces from start to finish.
This was a slightly risky plan, since the renovation project would forever have my name attached to it; however, from the beginning, my student bought in to the concept so I was encouraged by how empowered they felt and the ownership they immediately took with this project.
Our first task was to determine what subcommittees we would break the class up into and then assign roles within each subcommittee based on strengths and weakness. The subcommittees that were established were: C.O.O. (Chief Organizational Officers), Design, and Technology. The C.O.O. group was responsible for all the organization, collaboration space, ultimate budgetary decisions and presentation of the project proposal. The Design group was responsible for research, design and budgeting of the physical space, this included all furnishings, color schemes, design of hardware location/placement, etc. all based on researched best-practices. This group also had to collaborate with campus facilities and maintenance, as well as, the representatives of the furnishings companies, the architects, and construction crews. The Technology group was responsible for collaborating with the college IT department to research, budget and order all hardware, wiring, outlets, ports, etc. for the learning spaces being designed. After all the research and planning was completed the COO group created a presentation of the project proposal that they then presented to the Board of Trustees and the President of the institution for final approval.
The purpose of these learning spaces was to enhance and encourage innovation in teaching and learning. Due to this main focus the class determined that, since there were only three spaces being created, that there would need to be a way to prioritize and organize what professor(s) and/or which departments would predominately be using the space. So, the class created an application form on the google drive that those wanting to teach in these spaces must fill out to get put into the scheduling block. The class also budgeted monies out to cover the registration fees for all faculty members should they choose to attend NETA and/or the YPS (York Public Schools) Technology Professional Development days.
Since this was at the tail-end of the grant cycle, previous integration of technological tools available at the time had been modeled for the students; they were responsible for deciding what online space to use for collaboration purposes. The final decision at this time came down to Google Drive. With-in this platform students could create shared documents, budget and finances workbooks, online surveys to distribute to current students/faculty and staff as well as alumni, and presentation ideas. The concepts of remote access, tether less control of presentation equipment, accessibility for ADA accommodations, multiple presentation platforms and the need for intentional design of the learning space was all modeled for the students through their course research and deemed necessary for implementation into the renovated design. After researching a number of CAD and online drafting programs the design group actually settled on using The Sims game to create the digital models of the classrooms. It was amazing to see the transition and recreation from The Sims game, to the AutoDesk drawings, to the finished product; as you can see below.
The following Photo Grids show the progression from student creation through finished project.