Posted by: Mary Simone | December 1, 2009

The DLS Physical Space

DLS Software Tag Cloud

As  Operations Manager for the Digital Learning Studio, I was responsible for redesigning the physical space, in its location on the 3rd floor of Healey, from a multi-use combination of Media Center and Language Lab, serving both students and faculty, to a focused faculty support center.  My design of the physical space began with the concept of a studio as a workplace where people can not only receive information but also collaborate with others, moving freely among one another to share and discuss ideas, in contrast to a classroom space where an instructor delivers information.  While Educational Technology staff will continue to offer workshops in the Information Technology Center classrooms on the lower level of Healey, their new location in the Digital Learning Studio will make them available for studio-style support as well. 

With the studio concept in mind, the next concern involved physical layout.  How do you structure a physical environment to promote communication and collaboration?  (And how do you do this in a budgetary environment that necessitates using only existing equipment?)  The language lab design involved divided stations with walls in between, so that each individual listener would not be bothered by the sounds coming from the next station.  So the first step was to remove these walls between stations, to allow conversations to go on. Another was to reduce the number of stations to allow more multi-purpose spaces. Still another was to use chairs that roll, to allow people to move physically and engage with different workstations or with each other.  Another element, which I hope might be added in the future, would be projection screens on the walls, linked to the individual stations, so that work being done at one station could easily be shared with a larger group.

Now when you enter the room on the third floor of Healey, you will find ten workspaces for faculty and three for student consultants, along with open, multi-purpose tables. The studio offers dual platform computers, both Windows and Macs, with full video production and editing software on the Macs.  The Windows machines are set up to use a range of software, including Adobe and Blackboard, and several are attached to scanners. Each computer screen will show you a tag cloud like the one at the beginning of this article, showing all of the possible technologies you can use in the center and that DLS staff can support.

The studio offers an integrated model of faculty support—a space where faculty can meet with consultants, work at computer stations, and draw on the expertise of various staff members as they work on technology-related projects.  But faculty also have a role in this collaboration, and we will want input from you, as faculty users, about the technologies and the support that you need and the solutions that will work for you.

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