CULC Prototype Classroom to be Used for Spring Semester

ESM building the site for Clough Commons prototype classroom.

A cross-campus partnership has converted a room in the Engineering Science and Mechanics Building into a smaller prototype of two planned Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons classrooms designed to alter pedagogy.

The room will be used across multiple disciplines—including engineering, biology, modern languages and English—as well as by the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.

Based on the SCALE-UP (Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs) model developed at North Carolina State by Robert Beichner, the CULC Prototype Classroom has no "teaching wall," according to Sejal Patel in Capital Planning and Space Management.

Instead, writing surfaces will be on all four walls, and three plasma screens will be mounted on two of the walls. Students will be arranged in three groups of nine, each group virtually linked to one of the screens.

"The furniture is arranged in groups, for 27 total students," Patel said. "In the CULC, the classrooms will accommodate 30 and 45 students. We're testing these important things with this small-scale room: the furniture, the technology, the lighting and the pedagogy."

National company Tidebreak is sponsoring a year's license to its software ClassSpot, which allows students to connect their laptops to the professor's, or vice versa, for true team-based collaboration. "We currently don't have an application like this on campus," Patel said. "The idea is that there is no teaching wall. The technology transforms teacher-centric presentation classrooms into interactive, flexible spaces, allowing full participation by students."

CETL Director Donna Llewellyn invited campus partners in an e-mail to test the classroom, as it is unique on the Tech campus. "We would like to learn as much as possible [from using the classroom] during the spring and summer semesters so that we can take these lessons to help us in the outfitting of the Clough Commons," she wrote, asking for their help in measuring the teaching methods enhanced by the room's unique design.

A campus "open house," with demonstrations of the room's technology and unique design, is planned for Jan. 7 and 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Capital Planning and Space Management, CETL, the Office of Information Technology and Facilities have sponsored the prototype classroom, located in room G-8 of the ESM building.