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Classroom Renovations in Support of Teaching and Learning

Classroom renovations project partners

Five years ago, after touring a number of general assignment classrooms, the Chancellor made a campus commitment to improve the physical learning spaces along with installing audio/visual technology in 100% of the classrooms by the year 2012. A budget of $2 million dollars a year over the course of five years was established, and a collaborative team was formed among Educational Technology Services (ETS), the Office of the Registrar (OR), and Physical Plant-Campus Services (PP-CS).

Under the direction from the Campus Committee on Classroom Policy and Management (CCCPM), these partners began the Classrooms in Support of Teaching and Learning project in the Fall of 2006. At that time only 25% of our general assignment (GA) classroom pool had installed audio/visual technology.

The project focused on classrooms in Wheeler Hall in year one. Classroom sizes varied from small seminar rooms (seating 15) to mid-size classrooms seating 50-70 students. These rooms underwent a complete renovation, which included painting, installation of acoustical wall treatments and audio/visual equipment, new lighting, ceilings, floors, and furniture, and replacement of older blackboards and blinds.

Classrooms lab benchClassrooms lab benchThe program then moved on to Dwinelle and Valley Life Science Building (VLSB), which presented new challenges in the redesign of large lecture hall demonstration benches and replacement of the lighting control system in VLSB 2050. Both solutions were well received by faculty, enabling them to interact more directly with students by not being confined behind the large demonstration benches, and lighting controls to better utilize their technological choices.

The team continued renovating and installing technology over the course of three years in 17 different classroom buildings. We now have installed technology in 193 classrooms or 88% of GA classrooms.

Along the way, decisions about 'where' we would install next were made through thoughtful deliberation. The following criteria were used to inform these decisions:

  • Select buildings from all four quadrants of campus - northwest, northeast, central and south.
  • Consider requests from faculty and departments.
  • Identify opportunities to combine the audio/visual install with the renovation program managed through the Office of the Registrar, to achieve the greatest impact on the learning environment.
  • Assess architectural barriers that would make the instructional technology installation difficult.
  • Assess utilization of the classroom.
  • Identify opportunities to 'cluster' construction locations for budget savings.
  • Build new partners with departments and look for opportunities for a shared vision around active learning spaces (see Active Learning Spaces below)

Advanced audio/visual technologies

Technology never stops progressing, and advances in classroom technology were incorporated as we continued building out the classrooms. These additions were primarily driven by technology trends and faculty requests. Advanced technologies that were added in some rooms include:

  • IP controls for remote monitoring of the classroom audio/visual components
  • Newer and better document cameras were installed in lecture halls
  • A telestrator in VLSB, enabling instructors to add annotations over power point slides
  • The first plasma and LCD screens were introduced in classrooms
  • Podcast and screencast capabilities were added to select classrooms
  • In the final year of our project, a new control system was adopted with a touch screen for user, ease of use.

None of this could have happened without the people behind the scenes at the Registrar's office. They worked tirelessly constructing room schedules and communicating with building coordinators, departments and faculty as they moved classes from one room or building to another. Through careful coordination across all of these units, the projects stayed on schedule and on budget.

The renovation and technology improvements have been critical in supporting the campus' classroom utilization goals (matching enrollment to classroom size) and increasing the access and availability of technology in instruction.

Maintenance and refresh mode

Classroom technology will continue to be supported by the campus, transitioning now into maintenance and refresh mode and staying abreast of technological advances. More information about the Refresh program will be posted soon.

Additionally, during this academic year the Office of the Registrar will oversee renovation projects in larger lecture halls including Cory 277, Kroeber 160, Morgan 101, Mulford 159, Pimentel Hall, GPB 100, and Lewis 100.

Active learning spaces

The majority of GA classrooms at Berkeley assumes that the primary mode of course delivery is through lecture. This pedagogical style or concept is typically focused on the 'front' of a classroom - writing surfaces (e.g. blackboards), a presentation screen, and a stage or lectern - with little or no integration of participatory technologies that enable collaboration to support student-centered learning.

Going forward, the campus is in the process of evaluating classrooms and learning spaces, both formal and informal, as the future of 21st century learning environments. These 'spaces' enable options for supporting the myriad of ways in which professors teach and students learn. ETS will keep the campus informed about plans for development of these learning spaces.

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