A new classroom in Lindquist that is configured with long tables and features large monitors and white boards on the walls.

How do you transform old office spaces and conference rooms into active learning classrooms that meet a growing need for virtual and hybrid course delivery?

That’s the challenge the A/V Design and Installation team tackled in the first phase of the UI College of Education’s capital project for Lindquist Center South. It also presented a unique opportunity for the team: design and install a capital project from inception to commission.

This phase produced six university classrooms—four TILE-Lite and two multipurpose rooms—and a large commons area complete with wireless access and digital signage.

“Working with time constraints and COVID-19 conditions was certainly a challenge,” Dan Blakeslee, an IT support consultant, said. “But it was made doable by working as a full, efficient team, which is atypical from the more independent nature of most A/V projects.”

Using a university-led team also provided a more flexible approach to unanticipated redesigns or significant order changes. With the shift in teaching modalities during the pandemic, the team conducted a mid-project redesign to respond to an emphasis on virtual teaching and learning.

“The redesign, conducted by the A/V Design and Installation team on behalf of the College of Education, addressed video and audio technologies, such as webcams and microphones, considered vital to web-based instruction,” Paul Ross, a senior communications infrastructure engineer, said.

Designing with the Learning Experience in Mind

A significant consideration in hybrid learning is ensuring that face-to-face and virtual students have an equivalent educational experience, which includes addressing how to facilitate synchronous student interaction between peers in the classroom and at a distance.

“The instructional issue, raised by faculty members in hybrid classrooms, has a solution,” Kirk Batterson, university classroom support team lead, said. “The intentional design, implementation, and installation of educational technology.”

In LC S110, the team installed an audio technology that uses low-profile ceiling array microphones. By integrating sophisticated noise- and echo-cancelling technology with microphones that can actively and intelligently follow and mix conversations, the technology is particularly effective at facilitating interaction.

These spaces are also notable for the absence of projectors and screens. Instead, multiple 85-inch LED displays have been installed, with integrated document cameras that can display content beyond the traditional classroom through UICapture/Panopto, Zoom, and Skype.

Additional technology in the rooms includes the Mersive Solstice platform; wireless presentation microphones; pan-tilt-zoom cameras; accessible lecterns; Extron A/V control systems and panels; wall-to-wall whiteboards; and tiered, accessible, and flexible learning space furniture.

The Future of Lindquist

In only a few weeks, the new spaces have already experienced a noticeable uptick in traffic. Ted Neal, clinical professor in the College of Education’s Science Education program, says his class enjoys the space and the ability to regroup and work collaboratively.

Phil Gugliuzza, communications infrastructure engineer, believes the updated appearance and contemporary classrooms are defining features of the project.

“When it comes to designing functional and aesthetically modern learning spaces, I hope more colleges and departments will realize that we’re a campus resource for them,” Gugliuzza said.

This completes Phase I of the College of Education's Lindquist Center capital project. In Phase II, the team will continue to develop learning spaces in Lindquist Center North, including transforming the college's once flagship distance education television studio into what will be its largest, most advanced classroom to date.