We recently interviewed several instructors who taught in Student Building 015, located on the IU Bloomington campus, and asked them to share their perspectives on, and experiences with, teaching in this unique learning space. In this blog, Bloomington instructors Tessa Bent, J Duncan, Shabnam Kavousian, Julie Knapp, Jill Robinson, and Susan Siena, generously share their how they engaged students and how they addressed obstacles in the space. They also provide quick tips for any instructor new to teaching in SB015.
If you were to meet with an instructor who was going to teach in SB015 for the first time, what would be your top two tips for teaching in this room?
J Duncan: The space is larger than you expect. Investigate it prior to teaching there, and plan where you will stand/move during class sessions.
Tessa Bent: Start slowly with integrating technology. Don’t feel that you must change every aspect of your course all at once. Try incorporating one active-learning activity each class period and go from there.
Susan Siena: Wear comfortable shoes as you will need to walk a lot! I walked around constantly. This is a marathon. I never sit in any classroom, but in this room you need to constantly move.
Julie Knapp: Design a variety of activities to support class content such as the use of white boards for group work, group sites within Canvas to capture, share and save group work. Get students comfortable with sharing work with the entire class using the large video wall and microphones.
Jill Robinson: It is very difficult to lecture in this room. Teaching in this room only works if a large amount of time is dedicated to group activities.
J Duncan: The control panel in the room is one of the more complicated ones at IUB. Get familiar with the operation of all controls, and expect there to be a little lag between when you push a button and the result occurs.
How did you navigate the classroom space, furniture, and other classroom features in SB015?
Jill Robinson: I used the instructor station in the middle of the room when providing content (i.e., lecturing or discussing results of group activity). Otherwise I roamed around the room along with my TAs, checking student progress and having discussion with groups.
J Duncan: I start off the first class by standing in front of the large screen, but after that I move to the center of the room (just up the small steps), which is where I usually am for most subsequent classes. There are very few awkward spots in the room thanks to the generous spacing of tables. You may need to practice “rotating” as you talk, to make sure you face different parts of the class while speaking.
Julie Knapp: My advice is to go through training and practice sessions in SB015 before the semester begins. In addition, ask an instructor that has taught in SB015 if you can ‘sit in’ on one of their classes to get an idea of how to use technology in the room.
What do you perceive to be the biggest obstacle to teaching in SB015? How did you address it?
Susan Siena: The biggest obstacle is that there is really not a place to stand and deliver content where you feel everyone can see you. To address this, I think the best thing is to deliver as much content in other ways as possible. Also move around the room a lot.
Jill Robinson: There is no central focal point and it is really awkward to lecture. I redesigned the classes to be mainly small-group activities followed by discussion of those activities as a whole class.
Shabnam Kavousian: For me it was the size of the room. I used the sound system (microphone) and that helped a lot.
Julie Knapp: You have to ‘shift’ your teaching approach from a traditional large lecture classroom to an active learning approach. This takes time, planning, and advice/assistance from others. Use your resources – Mosaic staff, CITL, Classroom Technology Services.
What was your favorite “thing” about teaching in SB015?
Susan Siena: I like that students can easily work in groups on a shared screen.
J Duncan: It is the only room I’ve seen where students instantly grasp how to use the space and technology to collaborate on group work. Additionally, I don’t have to shove myself in between aisles or seats to help people.
Shabnam Kavousian: I LOVED that the tables were set up the way they were. Students sitting together formed a very collegial relationship and worked very well together outside the class, too.
Thank you, Tessa, J, Shabnam, Julie, Jill, and Susan, for sharing with us! The tips our faculty have shared are just a few examples of what is possible in SB015. If you’d like to share your own ideas, please add them to the comments below. If you would like to learn more or explore more about SB015, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org