IAGID.gifIt's A Grind Interior Design

We brew the perfect blend of pedagogy,
feng shui, and business savvy,
and bring it to your learning space.


Background
For this proposal, our team redesigned the Instructional Technology Services' Faculty Room at SDSU. Usage of the faculty room has changed dramatically over the years. At one time, the computers in the room were widely utilized by professors but now most faculty members have computers in their offices. Currently staff and their specified assistants use the room mainly to use the scantron machines to grade tests. It is also a space where staff comes for questions about technology problems they are having, that no one else can solve. A place of “last resort” per se. The room is in need of renovation to create an atmosphere that is more conducive for collaborative learning. Renovations are needed to improve the usage and efficiency of the space.

ITSfacultyroom.jpg



The ITS room at SDSU, current configuration.

Needs Analysis
As part of our needs analysis, we interviewed several different users, reviewed historical usage data, and visited the space.

Room stakeholders
Rob Drake
We talked to Rob on Monday, April 16th. He thinks the third cubicle in the room is wasted space. He also thinks the cabinets behind the double cubicle and the book shelves could be integrated to store their stock of office supplies. If he could add one thing, he'd want the ability to access any application from any computer (as was once available). Right now he can only load Photoshop on three specific computers, for example.

Jim Edwards
We talked to Jim on Monday, April 16th. Jim pointed out that each of the computers was an integral part of the test sheet scanners, using proprietary software that transfers the raw test scores directly into Blackboard. As such it is impossible to remove one from the other in the layout. He said the machines were used constantly during mid-terms and final exams. At these times, access to the machines is controlled by a reservation process, and users line up in the hallway hoping someone finishes their exams early. The use a reservation system, but the waiting users might feel more at ease with a lounge area (and therefore might actually not mind waiting so much).

Jon Rizzo
We talked to Jon on Monday, April 16th. Jon worked in this room for several years before moving down the hall to concentrate on providing dedicated Blackboard support to SDSU. Jon had some great comments about the flexible nature of the space. He agrees that allowing coffee is a key factor to making any workspace inviting. He also thinks having a "flex space" would be useful not only to transient professors, but also during "surge" times, such as the beginning of the semester. He would put a second person with a telephone on call in the ITS room to handle the overflow of Blackboard trouble calls from instructors.

Room users
We talked with some of the people using the room. They thought the variety of material available in the room was a key asset, and the proximity to the consultants to be "a lifesaver". None ever recalled using anything from the library, and said there was nowhere comfortable to sit if they did - sort of a "chicken and the egg" problem. They would love to bring their coffee with them while working, and would happily agree to reasonable restrictions, such as only lidded drinks allowed.

Extant Data
ITS Flyer
The Instructional Technology Services (ITS) office produced a flyer which outlines the various services they provide to faculty and staff. Many of these features are supported in the various department areas, but the ITS provides the "expert level" of support.

Faculty interview: ITS Director
We were provided with a one-page interview summary of a conversation with the ITS Director. The comments mirrored those obtained by the room users and the full-time consultants. It was revealed that the ITS Department would like to expand the use of computers to include some self-directed modules of the BATS workshops offered by SDSU, in addition to the Blackboard assistance that is commonly offered by the in-house consultants.

Historical usage report
The sign-out log is transcribed into an annual report, which details which equipment and materials are used and with what frequency.
  • There are more users and visitors in both spring and fall than in summer. There are almost no winter visitors.
  • The number of users and visitors peaked in the early 1990s and has held steady since 1998. This is likely because technology available throughout the rest of the campus fills the needs once handled in this space.
  • Scantron usage shows a mild increase over time.
  • Slide scanner use is variable and statistically flat.
  • Text scanner use shows a mild increase over time.
  • Color printer use has decreased.
  • Transparency printing is almost non-existent. Jim Edwards said there is really only one person who produces transparencies.
  • Audio tape duplication, software, and hardware help have all decreased over time.
  • The number of consultant interventions has remained constant since 2002 at around 200.

Websites
The ITS site at SDSU
Feng Shui in the Classroom
http://classroomfengshui.com/

Design concept and recommendations

In general terms, our design eliminates unuseful furniture and equipment while streamlining the layout to serve the needs of both transient users and consultants. One of the key design considerations was the ability to affect the maximum change with minimal cost. We therefore incorporated existing materials as much as feasible.

Personas
Don Norman argues that design is communication (Norman, 2004). One of the best ways to maintain focus on good interior design is to target key personas, or types of people who will use the space. For this project, we targeted these personas:
  • Resident expert / consultant
  • SDSU Instructor
  • Visiting Professor

Our vision for the space
-more open space
-easier flow in/out of room
-easy access to IT instructors for help with Blackboard building
-large collaborative lounge space for faculty to sit, relax, enjoy a cup of coffee and chat/collaborate with colleagues
-large space for prepping materials
-more purposeful areas (grouping of computers based on usage type, ie email, Blackboard construction, self-directed BATs modules)

Equipment

Existing Equipment to remain in room
  • 11 PCs
  • 4 Macintosh
  • 5 Scanners
  • 6 PARs (Scantron machines)
  • 2 LFRs
  • 3 Printers (2 Black/White, 1 Color)
  • 1 Laminator
  • 1 paper cutter
  • 1 Binding machine

Equipment to be eliminated or removed
  • 3 file cabinets
  • Audio/Visual Editing equipment
  • Audio dubbing equipment
  • Professional Library books that are outdated

Existing Furniture to remain in room
  • 1 Round table
  • 8 long tables for computers
  • 1 smaller table for printers
  • 2 long tables to be used for supply/prep area
  • 1 small table for sign in
  • 2 bookshelves

Furniture to be eliminated
  • unused bookshelves

Furniture to be added
  • 1 couch
  • 1 TV on rolling cart
  • 4-5 comfortable chairs for lounge area (some rolling chairs/swivel chairs to be able to quickly and easily change direction, float over to lounge PC/Mac for quick use)

A rough floor plan indicating proposed locations for hardware and seating.

Interactive Floorplan Diagram

layout.gif

Table 1 is designed for complicated PC use. It is positioned near the Instructor Station for easy communication between Users and Instructors.

Table 2 is designed for complicated PC use. It is positioned near the Instructor Station for easy communication between Users and Instructors.

Table 3 is designed for complicated PC use. It is positioned near the Instructor Station for easy communication between Users and Instructors.

Table 4 is designed for Mac use. It is positioned in the corner for private use.

Table 5 is designed for Mac use. It is positioned in the corner for private use.

Table 6 is designed for simple PC use. It is positioned for quick and easy access and has a 5 minute max use time when others are waiting.

Table 7 is designed for simple PC use. It is positioned for quick and easy access and has a 5 minute max use time when others are waiting.

Table 8 is designed for social use. It is positioned near the Lounge Area for ease of use by groups of faculty or individuals.

The Print Station is positioned in the center of the room providing quick and easy access to rushed faculty. It is conveniently positioned near the Work Area in case modifications to the printed material are needed.

The Work Area is positioned in the corner of the room to provide ample table space within a small, reachable area. It is conveniently positioned near the Print Station in case modifications to printed material are needed.

The Instructor Station is designed to quickly and conveniently provide assistance to new visitors and those computer users requiring the greatest assistance. It is positioned at the entrance to the Faculty Room to monitor incoming and outgoing guests and ensure proper use of the sign in sheet.

The Lounge Area is designed to provide a relaxing environment for faculty to enjoy conversations and meals without disturbing other patrons. It is positioned near the entrance to minimize distractions to other room users when entering or leaving.

Design rationale

General concept
During our analysis we found that large portions of the room were not being utilized. To improve efficiency of the space, we will take out the bookshelves and video dubbing equipment as well as the transparency machines. These are not utilized and fill excessive space. We designed the room to maximize the amount of open space, and create the illusion of a large free, airy, relaxed atmosphere. We wanted it to be a comfortable place for all faculty and staff, while still preserving essential functions. We wanted to create an area of informal meeting spaces structured within a formal learning space. One of the areas of the room will be for those interested in using the computers, including scanning and printing functions. Another area will be for those scoring tests (directly adjacent to the computers since these need to be connected directly to the computers). We also will have a large work area where teachers can spread out to prepare, sort, and bind materials.

According to an article published by Denison University, Learning Spaces should be guided by the following design principles:

Learning styles should support a diversity of learning styles.
Our design will allow users to engage in various types of learning. The quiet areas will allow users to engage in individual work while the social area will support collaborative work. In his article Learning Spaces, Malcom Brown from Dartmouth College remarks that a “shift in the teaching and learning paradigm is well under way, moving away from a transmission paradigm to a constructivist paradigm”. Our Lounge area will support this type of collaborative work in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere.

Learning Spaces must be versatile.
By using rolling lounge chairs in the room, users will be able to move around the room. Tables can have attached wheels to facilitate re-configuration of the room.

Learning Spaces must be comfortable and attractive.
Our design suggests the lounge area for comfort. We design the room to open up the space thus making it more attractive. Our color and design recommendations such as adding mirrors and natural light also will improve aesthetics. We recommend that improving the aesthetics of the room during renovation to be a priority. Ambiance is critical and our design seeks to make the room inviting. Placing the lounge area near the front will draw those passing by. Faculty needs a place they can relax. Major enterprises like Starbucks have capitalized on this concept. Here customers pay more for the experience, than for the coffee per se. Patricia Tar in her article “Aesthetic Codes: In Early Childhood Classrooms” emphasizes the importance of making a room beautiful. She refers to the environment as “the "third educator" in conjunction with the two classroom teachers for young children. Our design took this study in consideration in our recommendations to improve the aesthetics of the room.

Learning spaces should be information rich and technologically reliable.
Our recommendations to update and improve technology in the faculty room will help the faculty room to better serve their users. For example, allowing users to access Photoshop from any computer and allowing them to share files between computers. Getting rid of old and outdated technology is important so that users feel confident that the technology in the room is going to be reliable. This will increase their confidence in learning and using the technology. In addition, it is critical that the consultants have an office where they can have some privacy but still be available as subject matter experts for the users. They have to be able to get work done without distraction and still be available to the users. Their satisfaction is critical to the room because essentially, they are the subject matter experts and their knowledge is valuable to the faculty. This way the room will remain information rich and technologically reliable.

Additional Considerations
Martin Brown's article (http://www.educause.edu/content.asp?page_id=6072&bhcp=1) provides a good overview of a modern "learning space", as differentiated from a classroom. Such learning spaces serve as a good basis for many of the needs this room will address. In particular, the pervasive and important emphasis on mobile internet is a key design consideration. While transient users come to the faculty resources area to access equipment and services not available in their own areas on campus, they will undoubtedly bring along some mobile, connected technology. They will need access to wireless internet, table space on which to place their own equipment, and electrical outlets. Our informal meeting space will have a couch and lounging chairs and food and drink will be allowed in this area only (to protect the other equipment). A few computers will be localized in this area for those wanting to work in a more informal structure, or for transient individuals and groups that may need computer access.

Brown describes the constructivist approach to learning as Contextual, Active, and Social. As a vehicle to meet a constructivist learning need, this room is an idea setting. Learners (faculty) come here to develop solutions to incomplete answers about advanced technology (contextual) through hands-on interaction with technology experts (active, social). The space provides some support for the three constructivist underpinnings. Some redesign keeping the three constructivist attributes in mind will enhance the overall effectiveness of knowledge transfer.

Design elements
Color scheme: The existing space is well maintained, but a fresh coat of paint is a simple, inexpensive way to update a space. We suggest a sunny yellow with maroon accents.
Mirrors: The high-level windows are a definite asset to this ground-floor space. We recommend adding mirrors along the upper part of the walls opposite to provide the illusion of openness and move more of the natural light to the far side of the space.
Chairs: Rolling lounge chairs with flip-away desks and integrated backpack storage will allow the space to be re-configured as needed by the users.
Tables: Existing tables will be used as much as possible. New tables in the document prep area will conform to Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for height and depth.

Presentation
This presentation summarizes information from this page
link: [[Team3.ppt]]

Additional References

Learning Spaces
Malcom Brown
http://www.educause.edu/content.asp?page_id=6072&bhcp=1

Improving your Learning Spaces
Denison University Learning Space Project
Denison University: Checklist to Improving your Learning Spaces
http://www.denison.edu/learningspaces/

Aesthetic Codes: In Early Childhood Classrooms
http://www.designshare.com/Research/Tarr/Aesthetic_Codes_3.htm