UCF Integrated Experience Tour Highlights

Here are some highlights from the Integrated Experience Tour: University of Central Florida, where participants were shown active learning classrooms and more to gain a better understanding of how networked AV can be used to adjust classrooms.
UCF Integrated Experience Tour Highlights

AVIXA offered several Integrated Experience Tours during the week of InfoComm 2023. On June 13-14, participants were invited onto the massive campus of the University of Central Florida (UCF) to experience some of the most innovative educational spaces. The UCF tours were led by Scott Prichett, Manager of Multimedia Services; Dylan Yonts, Manager of Multimedia Services; and Todd McMahon, Assistant Director of Instructional Technology.

To start off, the groups learned about UCF’s Sandbox classroom, designed as a space to test technology in a live classroom environment. The Sandbox is a collaboration between UCF’s Faculty Center, Office of Instructional Resources (OIR), and Information Technology (IT). The space provides resources for experiential learning through collaborative layouts, current technology, and innovative programming. It is a room where faculty can experiment with and apply various pedagogies, furniture layouts, collaborative tools, and digital technologies to improve teaching and learning.

With UCF moving toward active learning classrooms, a space was needed to test furniture and technologies. Active learning classrooms and other active learning spaces are rooms designed to promote active, engaged, and collaborative student learning.

According to this EdSurge article, active learning increases student engagement and improves academic outcomes. However, many college campuses still struggle to get faculty to shift away from traditional practices. So, some institutions are using a novel approach: leveraging the expertise of facilities and IT staff to support the redesign of classroom learning experiences. And UCF is among them.

While you can utilize active learning techniques in any classroom, having a space designed to facilitate those techniques can considerably aid your efforts to integrate them into your course. Active learning classrooms often include flexible furniture to facilitate collaboration and multiple projector screens to allow optimal viewing. Connecting course and classroom design has another perk: access to new funds previously allotted to other projects.

“A lot of the work we’ve achieved up until this point has been nudging to move the ship in the direction that the research suggests it should be moving,” said Don Merritt, director of the UCF office for instructional resources, in a previous article. “With new attention to learning spaces here at UCF… we have had a little bit more shift with the nudges.”

Often, facilities and information technology staff are seen as the “back of house” support for the work that is happening in classrooms. When viewed this way, space redesigns frequently occur without discussion of instructional design practices and are usually led primarily with budget cycles in mind. But flipping this model invites those with expertise in space design and instructional technology to be at the center of creating these comprehensive, active learning experiences for students.

In the Sandbox, participants were able to get hands-on with Lightboard, touch overlays, and Crestron NVX screen sharing. Attendees then had the option of visiting Trevor Colbourn Hall, the prototype for the UCF Downtown campus, or the Engineering building.

Those who went to the Engineering building were also offered a peek at the Lockheed Martin Cyber Innovation Lab, a highly anticipated sight many were ecstatic to see. The 970-square-foot lab serves as a learning hub, classroom, and practice center for the university’s cyber defense club.

After the tour, participants had additional time to freely explore the campus before heading back to the buses and returning to the convention center. We’d like to thank Listen Technologies for providing the assistive listening devices that were used.

Guests were able to build on their knowledge of existing AV solutions in the higher education space by seeing examples of installations. They were also able to gain more of an understanding of how networked AV can be used to adjust the way classrooms are utilized.

What were some of your #InfoComm23 highlights?

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