It's been a long process, but the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning opened this morning. The last 4 years have been an intensive planning/collaboration/development/implementation process, with people from many organizations coming together to build on the vision of the Institute. From the Institute's website:
The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning is dedicated to better understanding and improving student learning. It is both a building and a community that extends well beyond the building's walls. The Taylor Institute brings together teaching development, teaching and learning research, and undergraduate inquiry learning under one roof. The institute supports building and sharing teaching expertise; integrating technologies to enhance learning; and conducting inquiry to improve student learning. Through the College of Discovery and Innovation, the Taylor Institute offers undergraduate students opportunities for inquiry-based learning, experiential learning and interdisciplinary research.
It's an impressive interdisciplinary facility, intended to become a community centre for teaching and learning to bring instructors and students together from all 13 faculties on campus, as well as to include the broader community. We have many groups working together within the institute, making collaboration a part of how we work - including learning technologies, learning and instructional design, curriculum development, educational development, and scholarship of teaching and learning. All of these groups are housed together in a single facility in the heart of our main campus, making it an important place for people to come together to explore and experiment with teaching and learning innovation.
I worked most closely with Bernelle, Sextant, and Matrix (and of course UofC folks in the Taylor Institute, Information Technologies and Campus Planning) in the design and implementation of the amazing learning technologies in the Institute. Much of the early design work was highly conceptual, as the technologies had never been implemented in this way before. Early in the process, I asked for photos of what some of the pieces looked like, and for names of people I could talk to about how well they work. “um. that's not possible. nobody's ever done this before.” Awesome. No pressure :-)
The active learning classrooms are designed from the ground up to be flexible and reconfigurable. Skyfold walls are retractable, making it possible to have one giant active classroom, or 3 smaller ones. Everything is on wheels. The rooms feature 37 “collaboration carts”1, with all of the computer hardware installed in an IT server room on a mezzanine floor, and all video passed back and forth over ethernet and HD-BaseT. The carts are fully mobile within the active learning studios, and will work in any of the floorbox locations in these rooms. I'm really looking forward to seeing how people use the facility - the initial implementation has some core functionality, but the real magic will happen when people start going off script and doing things nobody imagined. We have lots of fun projects planned to help stimulate that kind of innovation…
we really need to come up with a better name for these…↩