Faculty re-Imagining learning spaces at UCLA

The Online Teaching and Learning Initiative is facilitating three Faculty Design Workshops for the Classroom Advisory Committee to solicit input for redesigning UCLA learning spaces that align with our institution’s mission for inclusive, interdisciplinary, and technology-enhanced education.

Participants are invited to: critique renovated spaces at other institutions; gather into small groups to share concerns about configuration, accessories, and adjacencies relative to their course size, teaching style and discipline; and, finally, use tangibles to create a visual model of their ideal classroom.

Examples of some of these takeaways include the following.

Universal considerations for classroom design

  • Organic configuration (i.e., movable furniture, lecterns, and displays) to encourage more engagement between faculty-student and student-student;
  • Study spaces immediately outside the classroom for students to gather and collaborate (right now students huddle in corners or sit on the floor just outside the classroom);
  • Access to equipment like a scanner, to scan notes and in-class activities before submission at the class’s end;
  • Microphones and outlets interspersed throughout the classroom without creating a “Battleship Education” model in which accessibility to these materials disrupts the shared learning experience;
  • Synchronous broadcasting for remote learners or students working in breakout rooms.
Regardless of discipline, faculty highlight “engagement” as a critical feature of classroom design
  • Encouraging “shy” students to speak, and promote comfort with stating what might be a “wrong” answer (working through solutions collaboratively);
  • Scaling-up the classroom;
  • Achieving different levels of engagement (i.e., lecture, large group collaboration, individual work, etc.).

Other enduring questions

The workshop facilitators fielded questions from the participants, including:

  • Which faculty and disciplines will be given priority for these spaces?
  • How did students’ vision for modified classrooms differ from faculty needs?

The answers to these questions drive important considerations as this discussion advances.

If you have questions or suggestions, please contact Professor Jan Reiff at jreiff@ucla.edu.


Main Photo used courtesy of LIFE Photo Collection and Google Arts & Culture –used under the CCO Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.  (source: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/mining-town-pa/VAFAQIT1eCYI0w)

About the Author

Dana is the Instructional Designer for Excellence in Pedagogy and Innovative Classrooms (EPIC), a five-year Mellon-funded project in the Humanities at UCLA. Dana earned a Ph.D. in French & Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she also completed a post-Master’s certificate in Instructional Technology and Interactive Pedagogy. She is a specialist in musicopoetics, interdisciplinarity, and experiential learning.