Published May 22, 2012
How can you tell when a collaborative classroom design is effective? In the case of the new Jacobs Hall 214 Learning Space, the students are quick to smile and share what they like about the room: "I don't have to bring a laptop;" "We can videoconference with students from all over the world;" "It's a really quiet room, it's easy to hear the instructor;" "It's a really attractive room - the lighting and furniture is nice!"
Several staff and professors from the School of Management
collaborated with CIT's Network and Classroom Services to create a
high tech, flexible environment around three guiding
Problem-solving skills, team-based work, and an understanding of global issues and cultures are increasingly important in today's business environment. This classroom provides a great combination of hands-on problem solving using high-end technologies (such as access to SAP's Enterprise Resource Planning software) and a team-learning environment that also allows global collaboration using the latest telepresence technologies.
One innovation incorporated as a "proof of concept" was using
specialized paint for whiteboards. "The faculty requested a way to
maximize white board space, and this allowed three of the four
walls to be used as white boards" said Dave Costello, Assistant
Dean and IT Director; "We were able to save money and provide the
faculty exactly what they needed."
In order to maintain the integrity of the student computer configuration at each workstation the IT staff implemented Faronics' "Deep Freeze" software. Classroom computers are configured with the software each instructor requires, but when the students log off at the end of class, the computer is returned to its original configuration with a simple reboot. Dave Costello explained, "This has saved the IT staff lots of support hours by not having to constantly reimage machines. The machines are always ready for the next class coming in the door!" Instructors also value having control over student's use of computers, restricting access to class-related exercises, because the workstation monitors are otherwise retracted beneath the desktop during lectures.
This classroom has been used in Professor Kishore's Management of Globally Distributed Services graduate class to connect with an MBA class in South Korea for a collaborative team project (with paired teams), and to have a senior executive from IBM deliver a guest lecture from Singapore into his class. It was designed to enable the use of SAP and other technologies in the school's new MBA option on Global Services and Supply Management and its MS programs for real-time, hands-on problem solving and collaborative learning activities, whether the students are in Buffalo or abroad.