The Learning Spaces Interest Group is composed of faculty and staff on this campus who are interested in developing, supporting, researching, or teaching in active and collaborative learning spaces. Monthly meetings are scheduled to  discuss and showcase our own campus developments. Subscribe to receive updates on campus meetings and events at:

March 15, 2017: Parkland College, Innovative Learning Labs

  • Hosted by Dr. Erin Wilding-Martin, faculty, and Dr. Vance Martin, an Instructional Designer, who led the renovation project.
  • Building D, Rooms x148 and x231, opened Fall 2016
  • 5 years ago the rooms were 2 offices, when they decided to make 2 active learning rooms, the carpets were already half up, and walls had already come down.
  • The project cost $60,000, using Title III funds, and included a lot of cost-saving measures
  • A committee of faculty, with differing visions, collaborated on the design.
  • Room use:
    • The rooms ae locked when not used by classes, scheduled online, and assigned by an application/review process (people on the committee had first dibs).
    • 2 used it initially with about 13 other classes over the course of the past year.
    • People who have used the room have since sought out wheels for other tables/chairs.
    • The rooms have alternated as to which is more heavily used.
    • They have not provided pedagogical training or guidance but opted to encouraging idea-swapping between instructors by having meetings to chat.
    • Students are utilized to help rearrange the room at the start of class as needed (no “right” layout).
  • X148 (~$43,000):
    • Seating capacity is 40, but more commonly used by about 20-25.
    • Very high ceilings, a wall of windows, lots of foam padding for acoustics, no true front of the room or primary display. The foam pads were $200/box ($1,200 for 96 panels).
    • 7 LCDs (LG), 1 on a stand, 3 each on opposite walls each with an Apple TV and an HDMI input. The stand is in the middle of the room in an area with lounge seating and has a cart with a resident PC (reused to save money).
      • Lesson learned: they would leave out the PC, which either doesn’t get used or just tends to cause trouble, such as making people think its LCD is the “front”.
    • The wall screens have mobile, reconfigurable tables and chairs by Allsteel, bought through Stocks, seating about 4-6.
    • The tables are height-adjustable but are difficult so don’t get changed much.
    • The chairs are a mix of fixed and adjustable height, though the latter are a little high for the standard table height.
      • Lesson learned: If they were to redo the room, they would likely just get a few taller tables and not do adjustable height tables/chairs. They would also do a chair rail around the room as the walls have been somewhat marred.
    • There are two areas in the center of the room where the tables are configured for one larger group table.
    • All areas have power strips (beneath the LCDs) or the Allsteel Further Hub (vertically standing floor power strips)
    • Display of laptops and personal devices is done via the AppleTV (and AirPlay for Macs or AirParrot for Windows/Android). AirParrot (on a Mac) allows projection to all 7 screens simultaneously. They bought 100 licenses (gives a discount rate) and just redistribute them each semester, even issuing them to some students for group work at the tables.
    • The room has a marker board at every table and 2 tall (but narrow) mobile boards ($900 each), mainly for the tables in the center of the room.
    • Faculty response has been positive, though some early users didn’t really understand, even after AV training, that the room had no true front or primary display. Many hadn’t really prepared for the style of learning. The loss of multiple LCDs, if moving back to a normal room, would make it tough on instructors.
    • Student response mid-term was not as positive as at the end of the semester. While negative response tended to be about things like temperature, the latter positive responses lauded the room as being free, open and more conducive to learning.
  • X231 (~$17,000):
    • Seating for students includes around 20-25 Scooch stools
    • There are 4 coffee tables and lap desks for student laptops, which are not heavily used.
      • Lesson learned: they would skip the tables and possibly lap desks
      • However: the lack of tablet arm desks makes it difficult for students to tuck their phones under the tabletop.
    • There are 2 wall-mounted LCDs and 1 on a stand with a PC on a cart. HDMI cables and adaptors are provided as needed.
    • 2 mobile and 2 wall-mounted marker boards.
    • The instructor has a large, rectangular, height-adjustable table with motorized lift.
    • The room has proven to be very conducive to discussion and group work.
    • View photos.


February 20, 2017: IDEA Lab

  • Visualization Wall, 3D Printers, Collaboration Search Room and our VR Hub
  • Hosts included Alex Cabral & Rhonda Jurinak with a presentation by Bill Mischo, the Head of the Grainger Engineering Library and Berthold Family Professor of Information Access and Discovery
  • The rooms are scheduled by website and provide spaces for collaboration, presentation and visualization and are tied into the design center.
  • There are 2 classes, Physics in the Arts and GSLIS, as well as 3 early adaptor groups primarily using the space: technology Entrepreneurs, a Medical Engineer design class, and iVenture, a 30-student interdisciplinary, start-up group who were looking for resources to prototype.
  • Planar VIS wall, video wall
    • Installation was by CV Lloyde for $80,000.
    • $80,000 Planar LCD video wall
    • 33 million pixels, 7680 x 4320 true 8K resolution
    • The screens have protective, gorilla glass, but are not touch-interactive.
    • The computer used to drive the screen runs self-designed software using cascading stylesheets and features an NVDIA quadro-pro card
    • Influenced by an Indiana University Library design
    • Students use the wall for animation software and sketching.
    • With custom, web-based software, the wall can be divided into quadrants with each quadrant (or even every panel) able to display different slides, videos and presentations.
    • The library cluster-search function does advanced searches that can examine full text articles.
  • Other rooms/spaces in the Lab:
    • 1 conference room with 6 LCDs on stands
    • Presentation area with dual 84” Planar screens and soft seating
    • Presentation area with touch-interactive 84” Planar screen
    • 6 tables in open areas, 6 chairs at each table
    • 2 media tables in open areas, 5 chairs at each table
    • VIVE room/office style
    • 2 “Offices”
    • Lab with 3D printing
    • 2 conference rooms (no LCD)
    • 1 conference room with 4 LCDs
    • 1 conference room with 2 halves, LCDs on mobile stands and varied seating – soft seating and tables/chairs.
  • AMX touchscreen controls will be added to the presentation areas.
  • Haworth and Illini Supply did the partition walls and seating (predominantly uses the Very chairs, which stack but cannot lean back (as students seem to try to do).
  • View photos.


November 7, 2016: Loomis Lab, Physics Spaces

  • Presented by Jerry Cook, Facility Director
  • folder with notes and photos.
  • Rooms 222/276, classrooms
    • Renovated about 2 years ago (as part of a Capital Development project) and has been extremely well-received.
    • Previously contained a kitchen area and Plato lab.
    • These 2 rooms have a collapsible wall between them so they can be one larger room or two smaller. Takes about 5 minutes to close. 276 is usually left the same
    • Typically, no noise transference between rooms.
    • Movable chairs (~60) and rectangular tables (~28) by Allsteel – very well-liked and sturdy – arranged in pairs of tables with 4 chairs per pod.
    • DA Lite podium with Crestron controls (required by the project AV planners).
    • In 276, there are dual projectors, both show same image.
    • 222 also has dual projectors along with an LCD mounted on the back wall behind the rows of students. Tables are in rows facing the projector screens.
    • Screens drop down over the 24’ wide chalkboard, but there is plenty of space between them.
    • Due to some graffiti the rooms are now kept locked.
    • Marmoleum floor is easy to clean, aesthetically pleasing.
  • Room 204, Interaction lab
    • 60-80 people
    • Open lounge
    • Private study rooms to the side
    • Collaborative tables and displays
    • Soft seating
    • Sometimes have receptions
  • Kitchen, adjacent to 204
    • Remodeled to give a prep and pass through space
    • Sink, refrigerator, counter, tables and chairs, service carts and storage
    • Mobile presentation podium
    • Window for daylight
    • Chairs, stool and height-adjustable round tables
  • 136, 158, classroom
    • Remodeled to expand seating (used to be 30) and provide flexible tables and chairs.
    • Restrooms had to be relocated, which allowed for additional fixtures.
    • Other first floor rooms were changed in a similar fashion.
    • Chairs are color-coded by room in case they get moved around.
    • LED lights and infrastructure for mics and cameras were added.
  • Building lobby, hallway
    • Terrazzo floor was cleaned & resealed, random patterns were added to the hallway tile.
    • 8 tables and 8 tall, café tables
    • Light sensors added to turn off at 10 PM & come on for 30 minutes if someone walks by.


August 11, 2016: ICS Computing Lab at Nevada

  • Host: Andrew Wadsworth of Technology Services
  • Presenter: Professor Jeffrey S. Moore of Chemistry

A. Room Notes

  • Overview: Nevada Lab is a Technology Services maintained space with several unique capabilities and features. The instructional space contains an instructor lectern, 42 student computer stations broken down into 7 large round fixed tables. All computers, student and instructor, are iMac hardware with dual-boot capability. The space also supports an instructor laptop/device connection and the ability to wirelessly connect Bring Your Own Device(s) using the integrated system. Additionally, the lab classroom has PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras, dual projectors and large glass writing boards located at the front of the room, and flat-panel LCD displays and whiteboards for each group table. Automated window blinds and adjustable room lighting complete the technology in this recently renovated space.
  • Unique Capabilities Highlights:
    • Supports group or individual student work using networked computers with ability to project any computer to front of the room projectors and/or any flat-panel LCD display.
    • Supports group members sharing their computer to the group’s flat-panel LCD display with a push of a button.
    • Supports video and teleconferencing via integrated sound system with PTT (push to talk) microphones and PTZ room cameras.
  • Nevada Lab Classroom website for location, hours, scheduling and computer specifications.
  • Computers were refreshed since the summer of 2015 but are still iMacs, so the instructor video cannot be pushed out to the student monitors.
  • Instructors were surveyed, and a few changes were suggested.

B. Presentation

  • The size of the Nevada lab is about the best blend of size and closeness.
  • The goal of the Chemistry meetings is to develop sense of community and relationships with students, which is hard in larger rooms.
  • On concern is that students are performance goal-oriented, not learning goal-oriented, and so you need to push them to have learning-oriented goals.
  • There was a set time once a week lab time / open discussion for students to attend for help–but some weeks there was very little attendance, but other weeks the room was full.
  • Up to 4 or 5 TAs might be on site to roam and help facilitate.
  • 80% of the time students were on their own – no formal instruction.
  • Less than 50% of students used resident PCs, instead used laptops with tools created for the class downloaded – and with a folder for each group.
  • Historically, and still commonly, students do a lot of work but most homework is tossed when they are done. So here, a booklet of material is result of student group work over the semester
  • The room has provided a great experience, so they plan on continuing in the fall.
  • Having the computers be both Mac & Windows made it a little tougher for students to use the resident computers – not quite simple enough.
  • Students used cloud for work, so a simple, wireless screen share to local monitors is best.
  • In a lot of new rooms, power it around the walls – did the kids use the power in the center of the room a lot? – it was very useful – lots of students plugged in
  • Technology: The instructor controls are a little complicated, so simple is better.
  • Wireless mics for voicelift weren’t used, but it was noisy and sometimes hard to hear.
  • It took time but they realized the value of the local screens
  • Mostly one student on a laptop & partners huddled around that person
  • Students need trained on how to work in groups better but need time and motivation – might do technology training sessions for the students in the future.
  • Some of the tools for the students were in the cloud, some on local machines and often drove students to attend if they didn’t have that software outside of the room.
  • 0 or 1 computers per table would be best – as long as there are shared screens.
  • Great location for students – center of campus – great room layout.
  • Lots of marker board use – Mobility is very useful, and here they have the right number.
  • View photos here.


May 24, 2016: University High, room 106

  • Presenters
    • Marianne Downey, University High – host
    • Ben Leff, Social Studies & History instructor, University High – presenter
    • Lauren Nevius of Resource One – presenter
  • The project
    • The ideas arose from discussions about gaps in room abilities among their Active Learning Classroom Committee, which includes instructors from each department and the Information Technology staff.
    • Donor-driven imperative to see a visible, positive impact on learning spaces. They like the initiatives and the effort to meet faculty needs, including professional development.
    • They had to work around the existing woodwork and glass – doors, in-wall bookcase – which the instructors wanted to keep intact.
    • Worked around the radiators by incorporating the work counter.
  • Features:
    • A short throw, interactive projector (only wired connections for resident PC or laptops) is mounted on the North wall in front of a marker board. The projector is mounted on a marker board screen, which is on a swing arm mount and can be positioned to face different directions. The technology is the i3 board.
    • Large LCD on the East wall inset with removable, sliding marker boards that can cover it.
    • LED lighting on dimmable switches (hasn’t been needed with the bright screens).
    • A work counter with stools wraps around the entire West wall and part of the South wall. It provides work surface for personal devices, along with AC and USB power outlets located approximately every 18”.
    • Primary seating and work surfaces are triangular tables and mobile chairs.
  • Lauren Nevius of Resource One
    • IPHEC-approved dealer for Knoll, along with other furniture used in the room.
    • The chairs used in the room were selected for the flexible, breathable backs and the vinyl seat pads that add comfort and keep them easy to clean. With 5-star base.
    • The triangular tables can be reconfigured in various patterns and come in multiple size options. They have a durable edge band, 3 legs and can have height-adjustable options.
    • Flip-top, nesting training tables were considered but their size made them less flexible.
  • Room Use:
    • Instructors are switched in and out each hour to spread availability, about 8-10.
    • Mostly elective classes above the freshman level, so most classes not multi-section.
    • This spring was the first semester it was used.
    • Students have had a good attitude toward the moving of furniture.
  • Presenter: Ben Leff, Social Studies & History instructor, University High
    • Most useful stuff is the low-tech: boards, tables and chairs.
    • Usually starts class in discussion groups of 3-4 students, which the small tables and chairs facilitate.
    • Lots of board-work in groups.
    • Projector & screen useful for media studies of gender, race, pop culture, movies, music.
    • Large group discussions form tables in a horseshoe and gather around the projector screen – the LCD is less useful.
    • Touch interactive screen allows you to highlight selected text, circle images, and mark up charts and graphs.
    • Simultaneous use of screens is difficult.
    • Software allows for video only (no audio) screen capture.
    • Most students choose to sit at the tables and chairs rather than at the counter where the AC and USB power are located.
  • Lessons Learned
    • Space is too small for the amount of furniture, or smaller tables would help.
    • Window screens filter the afternoon sun but don’t fully block it, so the west side is hot, and sometimes it’s not dark enough to see the screen clearly from some angles.
    • Audio is limited to the internal display speakers which don’t reach a high volume.
    • Some backpacks and other clutter.
    • The movable projector screen cuts down on the board space behind it.
    • Desire for voice recording to accompany the screen capture.
    • Students’ biggest disappointment is that they can’t bring drinks into the room – they mostly follow the rule.
    • Would like a DVD player.
    • Classes over 20 are challenge.
    • The marker boards on rails are difficult to remove.
  • Future Plans
    • The committee is still meeting to discuss the drawbacks and plans for going forward, welcoming talk about what didn’t work and how to fix it.
    • Instructors are now open and imaginative about what they would like next, submitting requests in other rooms, including for the next project for a science & chemistry space.
    • They will be shifting this furniture elsewhere and bringing in new chairs. Students had been voting on the replacement chairs and elected to get the Eurotech chair with flexible fabric, personal storage, casters, and table arms.
    • More writable surfaces – maybe glass running the length of walls.
  • View photos here.


April 28, 2016: BIF Illinois MakerLab

Prior to visiting the lab Jim Wentworth gave a presentation on this iFLEX site.We were helped by a couple of student lab employees of the labs, Bryan and Kyle. They talked about what they liked about the space, some of its history, who uses it, etc. They mentioned the classes and workshops held there. You can view more about the lab here.

March 14, 2016: Animal Sciences Laboratory, room 131

  • View photos here.
  • Professor Walter Hurley from Animal Sciences gave this presentation with Jennifer Sturner of Technology Services on hand to answer questions.
  • 131 ASL was a standard lecture room that now seats 72. The room was on a renovation list, but Walt guided the project in a different direct than originally planned.
  • Initial budget was about $200,000 for renovation pre-furniture & technology
  • Had to leave pillars in place. 2 tone colors for walls, ceiling and floor.
  • There are 10 LCDs, 55″ each, with 3 mobile tables per station and a glass marker board between each LCD.
  • Inputs for HDMI & VGA + audio – but no individual audio at the tables.
  • Extra tables are located in the middle of the room for gathering and flexibility.
  • To get audio out, you have to be the primary source being shown on the projector
  • 2 control pads, one at instructor station, one at opposite wall.
  • Internal AV closet with BluRay, Brio, and AV equipment with an external door, too
  • With Brio up to 4 devices simultaneous onscreen
  • LCDs can be used disparately or in sync or just in synced clusters
  • Mic system with lavalier & baton for voicelift and assistive listening
  • Students who were in the room during the presentation said the room features made it “easier to collaborate” and “talk to your friends”.
  • There is no resident PC. You must bring a laptop or personal device.
  • The department provides markers & erasers.
  • No installed cameras or AV capture, but there is a tripod with a camcorder and the Swivl which uses a base to hold the camera and a pendant the instructor wears so the base rotates to track the person wearing the pendant.


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