Story by Kelsey Jacobson
As you walk through the big, glass doors of Memorial Hall, you see this massive reception desk that is sitting in the middle of the room. While you are walking through the hallway, you see students and faculty using the new technology in the classrooms. Then as you make your way down the stairs onto the first floor, you see students hanging out and enjoying the student lounge area. As you look left and right, you see faculty interacting with one another and students in their offices.
When Doug Leif first walked into Memorial Hall this fall, he saw something he had never seen in other buildings on campus. There, right as you walk in, was a reception desk that looked just like you were checking into a hotel. ”It was awesome,” he said, adding he thought it felt friendly.
The move the College of Business, Technology and Communication made from Decker Hall to the newly remodeled building was more than just about gaining space. It was about getting a new kind of space. The idea, according to Shawn Strong, the college’s dean, was that every space in Memorial Hall was meant to be flexible, especially the classrooms. Strong went into detail saying that each classroom is very different on purpose, because not every class is run the same way. Strong says that everything that students see when walking into the new remodeled building was intentional.
With the new renovations, students now are able to interact with the faculty on a different level. Unlike a traditional lecture hall where the students listen to the teacher talk, it is a place where students and faculty work side-by-side, says Strong. For example, students are now able to learn differently in two of the classrooms by the use of monitors surrounding the students that can show what the professor is speaking about while students sit in small groups with the ability to work on problems together.
This is called a flipped, or active learning classroom. The teacher assigns readings and videos to students outside the classroom to guide them through the learning process. This learning environment creates a way for students to use their critical thinking skills, because they can then use classroom time to work as a team and collaborate together.
In other computer classrooms in Memorial Hall, computers can be stored inside the tables, so if the teacher doesn’t want students to be distracted, the computers can be pushed down and stored out of sight. But if the teacher wants to use the computers for an activity the students can pull out the computers with ease.
In two of the other classrooms, seating can be either meant for a big lecture hall, or as a small classroom size that focuses on group work. For example, there are two classrooms with garage doors that open up, and can be used just like any other big lecture hall on campus. They both can also serve as a small classroom by closing the garage doors, which gives a more intimate place for working on projects for students, or for a smaller class size.
Strong put it this way, you can go from having a big lecture hall of 130 students to 30 students working in small groups, because of the tables and chairs being moveable, which is what he said every classroom in Decker was missing.
Not only can students interact with faculty better, they have more space to interact with each other too. The downstairs lounge area facilitates a working environment for students to work together on projects, or homework in between classes. The upstairs area around the classrooms are there to be used by students as well. It is a place where students can use the technology, such as the monitors to share information with one another, and to hang out before or after classes.
“Decker Hall used to be a place where students just went to class,” said Strong. Now he says Memorial Hall is a building that moves beyond the traditional lecture style classroom, and creates the space for active learning and group work, which has the more business and corporate feel to it.
“The focus of the remodel was to give BSU an edge that we didn’t have before,” Strong said.