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Faculty help design classrooms of the future

IU's Mosaic Design Symposium offers chance to create ideal active learning classrooms, drive direction of learning spaces

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—Can we design large lecture halls that promote active learning? Can we build a small classroom flexible enough to support any discipline? What does the computer lab of the future look like?

These questions and more were discussed at the first Mosaic Design Symposium on June 15 at the Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis campus. Sponsored by Mosaic, IU’s active learning initiative, in collaboration with IU Learning Spaces, the event invited Mosaic Faculty Fellows past and present from all campuses to a day of design and conversation about the future of the university's learning spaces.

Dreaming up a new design
Dreaming up a new design

Left to right: Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick (IUPUC), Kelly Hanson (IU-Bloomington), Lance Mason (IU-Kokomo), and Andy Buchenot (IUPUI) discuss their collaborative design of a small active learning classroom.

“Faculty input is absolutely essential as we work to create and refine our active learning classrooms,” said Stacy Morrone, IU associate vice president for learning technologies. “With nearly 80 Mosaic Fellows across all IU campuses, we now have an experienced group of faculty who shares our vision and feels as passionate as we do about improving the learning experience at the university. The Mosaic Design Symposium was an ideal way to get their insights into active learning, what works and what doesn’t, as we go forward.”

It was fun to daydream about what we would want an absolutely perfect classroom to look like, and to come up with all kinds of crazy ideas with no limit to our budget.

Elaine Monaghan, professor of practice, IU Media School

Mosaic’s Fellows program provides an opportunity for faculty to explore and reflect on active learning approaches with other Mosaic Fellows, as well as to contribute to the development of learning spaces across IU. At the symposium, Fellows were grouped with like-minded faculty to collaboratively re-design the classroom of their choice. Designs were then shared with the learning spaces team to inform future classroom designs.

Julie Johnston, IU learning spaces director, also met with the group to discuss current classroom projects and to hear their thoughts on future designs. “This was a very impactful experience for me as a learning space professional,” said Johnston. “The Mosaic Fellows developed unique ideas that really pushed the boundaries of my thoughts about classroom design to enhance the learning process.”

Futuristic computer lab
Futuristic computer lab

J Duncan (IU Bloomington) presents the computer lab of the future to other faculty participants in the first Mosaic Design Symposium.

For Mosaic Fellow Elaine Monaghan, the symposium was an invaluable experience. She is a professor of practice in IU’s Media School, where in fall 2018 she will teach public relations writing for undergraduates and the intensive reporting and writing course for master’s students.

“The symposium was an amazing opportunity to meet faculty from other campuses and departments. In fact, I recently had a three-hour working lunch with a colleague I met there,” she said with a laugh. “In my experience, students who can control their environment—by moving their chairs around and looking at each other—actually learn better. So, it was fun to daydream about what we would want an absolutely perfect classroom to look like, and to come up with all kinds of crazy ideas with no limit to our budget. I really enjoy having a say in how the Mosaic classrooms are designed.”

Back to the drawing (white)board
Back to the drawing (white)board

Left to right: Kelly Hanson (IU Bloomington), Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick (IUPUC), and Andy Buchenot (IUPUI) hash out their ideas.

The people who build the classrooms are benefiting from the Fellows’ feedback. Larry Darling, IU principal learning space engineer, attended the symposium eager for ideas. “Being able to observe the process gave me a better perspective on how classroom design can enhance the learning experience,” he said. “With this insight I was able to return to the learning space design team with new questions to consider as we plan for learning spaces across campus.”

Event organizers said next year the symposium will be expanded beyond Mosaic Fellows and be open to all IU instructors.