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June 2010 Issue

Assistant Professor Melissa Willmarth demonstrates interactive technologies in the College of Nursing Collaboratory classroom
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There's No Hiding in the Back Row of a Collaboratory Classroom

By Angela Koenig
Published June 2010

When students at the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing begin classes this fall, they”ll be exposed to a new type of classroom environment—the Collaboratory.


The Collaboratory is an environment where everything in the room – from the physical layout to the technologies incorporated – is designed to promote active learning. See video here...

"This is the future of learning,” Dean Andrea Lindell says of the newly installed instructional area where technology and theories of modern education come together to promote collaboration, knowledge creation, and student engagement.


Housed in a traditional classroom space, the Collaboratory is divided into four segments, each with its own small group seating, large-screen wall monitors and smart boards. What makes it different from traditional small group interactions is how technology is integrated into the format: Each student group has a wireless mouse and keyboard, and whiteboards (similar to dry erase boards) that can be photocopied—by a central "copy cam”—and loaded for viewing on the monitor. 


The Collaboratory can also accommodate the virtual learner, who can log in to a session as an individual or as part of a small virtual group.


"It’s familiar technology organized in a unique way,” says Chris Edwards, director of the college’s center for academic technologies and educational resources.


No individual technology here, he says, is cutting edge, but grouping the technology in an innovative way encourages active faculty/student and student/student interaction, which research asserts promotes learning.


The room was developed for approximately $35,000, he says, which is relatively inexpensive compared with a standard technology-equipped classroom. The model was designed with usability, flexibility, and affordability in mind; and the goal was to create a model that could be replicated. The Collaboratory was funded through donor gifts to the dean’s fund specified for use to enhance the teaching and learning of students


The development of this space was based on the success of a smaller version that was piloted last year. The college hopes to outfit several rooms for use as Collaboratories. 

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