There are webinars, reports and roundtables throughout the country. These are interventions to a business-as-usual attitude. The core ingredients are urgent conversations among faculty members.
Why are these LSC events necessary? Because improving teaching and learning is enormously difficult for higher education. In Reengineering the University, William Massy identifies several factors including decentralization of teaching activity.
As a former vice provost at Stanford, he has seen this up close. “The benefits of such decentralization are substantial, but a heavy price is extracted when it comes to systemic improvement of teaching and learning.” Decentralization honors the scholarship of the individual instructor but discourages the necessary collaborative action.
Our inboxes are flooded with a range of conferences that are organized to showcase services and equipment. Only occasionally do they engage in conversations about teaching and learning. For LSC, improving teaching and learning is the reason to exist. This work is as important to the future of higher education as OR’s are to healthcare.
Through the leadership of Jeanne Narum, LSC has been at this work for many years. Their upcoming events are another example of the type of interventions required – recognizing the problem and documenting design thinking to describe an appropriate response. Implementation will always require institutional action, but without the catalyzing influence provided by such events, the inertia of the status quo is overwhelming.
Jeanne Narum has changed conversations about pedagogy and place, teaching and architecture. Beginning with Project Kaleidoscope and now Learning Spaces Collaboratory she has fostered transformative and ongoing conversations improving pedagogy and the educational function of labs and classrooms. This goes far beyond the glitzy marketing photos and glib sales brochures. Her work has engaged a generation of academic leaders, teachers and architects in design thinking that makes campus matter.
Learning Spaces Collaboratory Webinars – Her current series of webinars is worth a serious look. They are organized for campus stakeholders around lessons learned throughout the country:
Investing in active learning classrooms
Developing a “space matters” culture
Dissolving boundaries between communities
Transforming through renovation and connections
The webinars build on a series of 2016 Roundtables on the Future of Planning Learning Spaces.
Year in, year out, Jeanne has focused on the needs of students and their teachers, all the while pushing planning and design professionals out of their comfort zones. This has been hard work, overcoming institutional inertia, promoting a design-thinking approach to pedagogy and challenging institutional and architectural paradigms. The results have been a generation of creativity in learning environments and encouragement for the kind of active learning that benefits both faculty and students. Without these efforts, the learning environments on the country’s campuses would be poorer – less supportive and less effective.
Here is a video from a recent informal conversation with Jeanne. She talks about the importance of cultural, pedagogical and spatial change, the support of the National Science Foundation and the histories of collaboration at the heart of Project Kaleidoscope and the Learning Spaces Collaboratory. In this informal conversation you can see why she has been such a successful agent of academic change.
Classrooms for active learning are strategic assets for the 21st century campus.
Even in the digital transformation of higher education there are three-dimensional classrooms – but not the usual types. Active learning spaces will be a competitive advantage since they support better educational outcomes than traditional methods. Realizing this potential will require a disruptive campus-wide approach to the design and management of classrooms.
In the emerging campus, lecture halls are used less and less used. At the same time there is increasing demand for active learning spaces – those places that allow students to interact with each other and their teachers. Continue reading →
What are the Uber or Airbnb equivalents of the university? These are the questions Tom Fisher thinks campus planners should be asking.
We are at the trailing edge of six decades of campus facilities expansion. The resulting mix of assets can be a rich foundation on which to rebuild and right-size sustainable institutions, or part of an unsustainable burden that helps to sink the rest.
In a recent interview, Fisher argued for rethinking many of the assumptions of the physical campus.
The campuses we have inherited are way too big. I know that seems odd, because when you are on a campus everyone is crying for more space, but we have a lot of highly specialized space that goes under-utilized…the faculty office being one of the more notable ones. Increasingly faculty are carrying their office in their laptop and cell phone. So this idea of having a room set aside for yourself is really antiquated. Classrooms are changing. They will still be used, but the whole campus is a teaching environment. The whole city and region is a learning environment.
Richard DeMillo began his critique of higher education in Abelard to Apple, starting in 12th century Paris and ending with the rise of MOOCs. In Revolution in Higher Education his critique is more pointed – taking on tenure, governance and accreditation. This is balanced with the stories of innovators who “are making college accessible and affordability.”
A recent conversation about the new book resulted in three videos:
As an academic with Silicon Valley ties and a global perspective, he sees the pros and cons of technology in American colleges and universities as clearly as anyone. DeMillo argues that traditional methods cannot satisfy the need for increased access and affordability. He sees technology as the only means to increase the scale of student opportunity and reduce costs. Continue reading →
My campus planning course explores the future of campuses and prepares emerging professionals for these practice settings.
For the first half of the semester I experimented with making the room bigger – dissolving the walls that bound the traditional classroom. On March 3, 2015, for example, our session on the future of the campus included more than 40 students and guests in time zones from Western Europe to British Columbia. The synchronous discussion engaged students with the perspectives of academics and professional campus planners. Continue reading →
Opportunity for Guest Participants – I am teaching Planning and Design of the University: Future of Campus in a Digital World at Georgia Tech and University of Minnesota. The course will be open to on-line guest participants. A schedule for guest participants is here.
Georgia Tech students and in-class presenters will be in an on-campus classroom/studio. Minnesota students, remote presenters and guest participants will join via web conference.
A limited number of “seats” are available for guest participants, for seven Tuesdays beginning January 20 through March 3, 2015 from 6pm to 8:30 Eastern (5pm to 7:30 Central). A syllabus for the entire 15 week course is here.
Please let me know of your interest in participating by sending an email before January 15 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put Guest in the subject line.
This guest participant opportunity is made possible by the Center for 21st Century Universities at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota.
The physical implications of the digital transformation of higher education are becoming visible. Classrooms and libraries are being retooled in response to changes in basic assumptions that have guided campus development for more than a century. Student housing and campuses are evolving in response to social media and the changing use patterns of members of the campus community. From classrooms to libraries to residence halls, digital transformation is changing the physical presence and requirements of each institution.
Even in the digitally driven future of higher education, three-dimensional classroom spaces will be needed. They won’t be used in the traditional manner and they won’t be the traditional kind. They will be bigger, flatter, faster and there will be fewer classrooms for the same number of students.
Lectures will continue, but already they occupy less class time. Pedagogy is changing in and outside of the classroom. In the classroom, change is not disabling the lecture; it is enabling discussion, teamwork and practical applications. Whether fast or slow, the rate of change is limited by each institution’s culture. Differences in institutional culture will become evident in the structure of classrooms and what happens there. Continue reading →
University presidents and provosts are always faced with the choice of staying the course or modifying the trajectory of their institutions. Due to failing business models, rapidly evolving digital competition and declining public support, the stakes are rising. Some are asking how they should think about the campus built for the 21st century.