KST Cover

Parents Deliver 21st-Century
Learning Environment

by Irene Herold
photo by Michael Moore

Collaborative Media-Enhanced Learning Space photo by Michael Moore

Mason Library Dean Irene Herold, shows off the new West Wing Collaborative Media-Enhanced Learning Space to Jamie Martin '13, Amy Derick '13, and Diana Schaller '13.

Thanks to a gift from the Parents Association, Mason Library recently dedicated a new space on the second floor that contains seating for 24 at four media:scape tables with dual flat-screen monitors, an interactive white board, and regular white boards. The tables provide wiring for up to six laptops that can connect and display without the need for additional software.

"Wow! I hope that I have technology like this in my classroom when I'm a teacher."
–Kalie Randlett, first-year student

So, students are no longer limited to a laptop screen or two. Now they can work collaboratively in a larger group on a shared document on one screen while another screen displays further content for consideration. Also, at the touch of a button, multiple students can show and share their discoveries with up to six connected devices at one sitting. This enables students to further develop their team skills – something that will benefit them not only during their time at Keene State College but also later in the workplace.

The collaborative workspace, with its interactive equipment, was originally conceived for businesses as a means of meeting and sharing information. However, equipment like this has found a new home in colleges and universities because of its ease of use and functionality for research and study. The West Wing Collaborative Media-Enhanced Learning Space is the first of its kind to be installed in a library in New Hampshire.

Student learning in an engaging, enriched environment is a strategic priority for Keene State College. So when Patty Farmer, director of Alumni and Parent Relations, heard about a grant proposal the library was working on to create technologically enhanced learning spaces, she brought it to the attention of the Parent Association.

Its president, Richard Schleckser, immediately saw the potential. As a businessperson, he understood that this kind of collaborative workspace would offer Keene State College students what they need to successfully navigate the post-graduation world. It was a very quick three-and-a-half months from proposal to implementation, but Mason Library was determined to have the space in place to welcome the class of 2015. The Parent Association's desire to support projects that benefit all students dovetailed beautifully with the role the library plays on campus.

Students love using the space because it makes collaboration so much easier. A first-year student was overheard saying, "Wow! I hope that I have technology like this in my classroom when I'm a teacher." A geography senior seminar student stated that he liked being able to work together on a project and see the screen while the person typing is working. Another student talked about how helpful this setup would be for peer editing. A senior, who works in interlibrary loan, said he'll want to return to campus often to see what else Mason Library adds after he graduates.

Information Literacy Librarian Elizabeth Dolinger said, "Having the ability for students to share sources they are finding by projecting them onto the monitor screens during the session has changed my teaching and allowed for more collaboration, discussion, and peer-to-peer learning to occur." Not only is this space making a new way of collaborative learning available to our students, but also helping to make our information literacy instruction better.

The more we can engage our students with technologically enhanced collaborative learning spaces, the more successful they will be during their college careers and beyond.

Media Viewing Room Moves Into the Space Age

Jointly funded by the Provost/Academic Affairs Office and the Mason Library, the media viewing room has been transformed from a dark, 12-carrel, individual viewing station into a bright, attractive, technologically enhanced space. Room 103 now has a media:scape table, with dual flat screens, that allows four laptops to be plugged in simultaneously. In addition, there's a U-shaped lounge with countertops where laptops can be connected to the back of the lounge pieces. The room seats up to eight on the lounge, includes six stools, and has space for two more chairs.

Seeing it is easier than explaining it, but first-year students on an orientation tour described it well: "The media viewing room looks like a spaceship" command module. "The Starship Enterprise has furniture in the media viewing room."

When asked what they learned about the library, student responses included "We can use the media viewing center to have movie nights," and "You can preview your PowerPoints on a big screen."

A student who came in recently to view a video thought the room was great. "Oh, I want to use that screen!" She had planned to use the TV screen, but instead chose the big screen, using her laptop as a DVD player.

Faculty from several departments have been exploring the space as well. A film studies member commented that the media viewing room, with its dual screens and laptop connections, would provide an excellent space for viewing and critiquing films – particularly with smaller groups. And an ITW faculty member has already used the room to view a film with her class.

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