Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning - Site Visit

On Thursday, October 8th, a team for faculty, students, administrators and board members visited the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning over on Stanford University's Campus. Our goal was to observe the advanced learning spaces that the folks from the SCIL built in Stanford's Wallenberg Hall. The teaching and learning spaces at Wallenbergy support a wide range of instructional methods from a very teacher-centric, instructivist approach to a more student-centric constructivist, collaborative learning approach. The spaces and furniture are both very flexible, which allows for a wide range of learning experiences to be carried out in these areas.

We would like to thank Dr. Helen Chen and Bob Smith of Wallenberg Hall and the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning for taking out the time to spend the entire afternoon with our team two weeks ago. 

Here are a few of my thoughts and reflections from our team's visit to Wallenberg:
  • The technology and tools that were most compelling to me had nothing to do with digital resources. The moveable furniture and the huddleboards stood out to me as the most interesting technologies at the SCIL. The furniture and and huddleboards are manufactured by Steelcase. Listen to many of the Stanford instructor video comments at this link. Scroll to the bottom and hear what Tina Seelig says about the instructional spaces.
  • A few of the rooms featured glass walls on one or two sides. The glass in these areas is used as a writing surface by students and teachers. Quite clever.
  • A couple of the rooms had sliding glass walls that allowed the room to open up into the hallway corridor-these glass walls were opaque and I noticed that these are being used as white boards as well.
  • The rolling tables are also foldable so that they may be tucked away to the side of the room for people to sit on the floor, stand around a white board, etc. I believe the tables featured at this portion of the Steelcase website are the ones that we saw. A variety of surfaces may be ordered for this table, including one that writable with whiteboard markers. Ballpark cost on the tables is around $1200 USD ea.
  • Here is a link to the Steelcase page on Huddleboards. If I could purchase only one thing from the SCIL for use here at my school (including any digital presentation tools), this would be the tool that I would buy. These boards may be hung on a board, set on a floor or table, etc. They are highly flexible team collaboration tools. They allow for writing on either side of the board as well.
  • Steelcase Cachet Chairs - SCIL paid less than $300 per chair seven years ago and they are still in excellent shape. My guess is that they'll be able to last another 7-8 years. Compare this with the typical lab chair that we pay $125 for in schools...these chairs tend to age fairly quickly and aren't nearly as comfortable as the Cachet Chairs.
  • The commons areas featured booths with noise dampening panels. The booths are moveable so they may be positioned by a white board or anywhere else in the commons areas.
  • It would be awesome to purchase a some of this furniture from Steelcase and try it in an area of our library or a lab space that becomes free of computers when we move to a laptop learning model. We could also put some huddleboards in the room as well...this would allow us, for very little cost, to construct and develop a model classroom for interested teachers and students to try out.
Short little video with some photos and clips from our visit:

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1 comment:

  1. Oh my, Matt. Yes, my list has now grown. What a great opportunity for you to see these products "in action." Tina is right--it's the flexibility that matters. Thanks for pointing me back here.