Franklin & Marshall College: Improving Student Engagement
Franklin & Marshall College sought to remodel an existing 30’x40’ classroom to create a new type of space that would be interactive and configured based upon needs.
The classroom, located in an old building, presented structural design challenges for the desired technology.
The college selected New Era Technology, a specialized integrator of professional audiovisual systems for business, education, and government, to design, engineer, and integrate their classroom project.
The project required coordination between New Era’s staff and the facilities team at F&M to insure requirements were met, such as localized power and a robust, reliable way of signal routing to keep the room system flexible. New Era was able to overcome the structural challenges of an old classroom, by utilizing short-throw projectors. The space can be operated as a traditional “push” room, allowing instructors to push content out to a projector, a “pull” room, allowing for content to be pulled from group, collaborative projects, or as several individual collaborative
This new classroom design for F&M is a vast departure from the traditional class space; it is now a configurable, multi-use room that allows instructors to develop lesson plans based upon available technology, not the other way around. The room includes Crestron control and matrix routing and Epson multi-touch interactive projection. The most impressive feature of this project are the several small interactive “huddle” spaces projected onto Wall Talker white board painted walls. These spaces allow students to collaborate on a smaller scale while still allowing the instructor to pull any one of the huddle spaces and push out to any or all displays for entire classroom collaboration. The space can also be utilized as a large traditional classroom with multiple displays.
(these rooms) have engaged the whole learning process … the students can collaborate on projects. They have access to these tools outside of class.”
F&M’s Director of Technology and Support Services, John Coccia, loves the style classroom for a variety of reasons, recently stating that additional rooms of this type have since been added, with additional rooms to be added soon. Coccia added these rooms “have engaged the whole learning process, not just teacher-centric, the students can collaborate on projects. They have access to these tools outside of class.” Coccia continued, “the updated rooms allowed us, from a teaching perspective, to engage the class much more. The students participate in groups with annotations, they can then save those annotations and easily share them.”
The Franklin and Marshall College classroom project introduced a new era of teaching to the small school. The New Era design and integration provides instructors the technology needed to adapt their lesson plans based on the available technology while allowing immense flexibility in room configuration and utilization. In short, as John Coccia pointed out, “the technology allows all parties to be participants.”