Faculty, Staff, and Colleagues from across the University gathered on Wednesday, August 15 to celebrate the Grand Opening of the New Language Resource Center. This summer, the facilty experience a complete remodelling to better meet the needs of faculty and students. The event featured a timeline retrospective of the transformation which began in Fall 2014. The event concluded with a ceremonial, virtual "Ribbon Cutting" led by the youngest member in attendance, Graduate Assistance in Spanish, Nashaly Ruiz-Gonzalez. The design and function of the Center was informed by research by the Director, Dr. Bobby Hobgood, under the advisement of faculty and students who provided input on how the facility should be changed to meet current needs of language instructors and learners.
The Center includes different collaborative and individual learning spaces in addition to the Main Classroom which can seat more than 50 people for a variety of events. Additional spaces include an eight-carrel Independent Study and Testing Zone, a private tutor room, the Coordinator's Office and workspace, an equipment and film library room, and the Main Reception Desk. All furniture in the space can be easily moved to accommodate a range of instructional and meeting needs.
With respect to technology, the Language Resource Center includes a range of technologies unlike any other on campus. The Main Classroom space is surrounded on all sides by six, 90-inch displays which can project a single image from the Instructor podium, or using Miracast technology, each display can be used separately for collaborative learning groups, displaying a different image. The space also includes six whiteboards, one of which is a SMART kapp interactive model that uses a mobile application to capture and share what was written on the board for sharing via email. The Podium includes a wireless keyboard and mouse, a small-profile document camera that can also save snapshots or video of images, a blue-ray player, and of course a computer and standard Crestron control panel. The monitor is a Wacom Creative Pen Display, allowing for inking on Powerpoint slides or writing/sketching using the Windows 10 buit-in Sketch Tool. Finally, the podium itself is accessible and can be raised or lowered at the touch of a button to accommodate instructors who require a different height other than the standard classroom podium. Likewise, the Reception desk features a pass-through counter that is also designed to meet ADA standards.
And to "sweeten" the experience, the facility is also equipped with new Dell wireless laptops as well as Dell all-in-one computers. While the laptops contain enough battery power for each class, the Main Classroom was designed with a state-of-the art power distribution system to provide power for laptops around the Main Classroom with minimal impact on mobility.
This Fall, five faculty will teach classes in the Language Resource Center, serving as pioneers for the newly reconfigured facility. A research study will take a look at the impact of the space on student perceptions of learning and engagement. The flexibility and technology integration of the space reflects a trend in higher education classroom design known as "active learning," whereby the design and function are intended to promote greater interactivity among students, instructor, and content.