The Department of Biology is going to experience a more efficient classroom with the building’s upcoming renovations. The classrooms will have a new layout and will allow the department to adopt a more “modern” style of teaching.
The building, constructed in the early 1960s, is dated and run down. It was originally built for chemistry. Roughly half the classrooms have chemistry equipment permanently built into them, and the classrooms are also set up for classic lecture-style teaching. However, the Department of Biology prefers a progressive method and needs a teaching environment which bolsters that.
Dr. Chris Tabit, Chair of the Department of Biology, is overseeing the renovation and remodeling of the building and hopes to set up the department for the future. He and the rest of the department look forward to having flipped classrooms after the remodel.
A flipped classroom, as far as aesthetics and layout, is not much different than a traditional classroom. In a traditional classroom, the focal point is the teaching method at the front of the room, whether it is lecture space, a projector, or, as is common in the biology building, a chalkboard. However, a flipped classroom does not necessarily have a traditional front and back. Flipped classrooms are set up for application and problem solving, not lecturing.
This “modern” way of teaching requires students to do the learning outside of the classroom before coming to class; students come to the flipped classroom already prepared. They read the textbook chapters or online lectures, and then apply it in-house. Essentially, the homework and classwork aspects of a traditional classroom are “flipped,” hence the name.
“We are not set up for that,” said Tabit. “We are set up for ‘I teach, you take notes, you go home and apply it,’ and that is old school.”
Tabit and his colleagues are excited about the modern amenities of newly designed classrooms. They will no longer use chalkboards or whiteboards; they are replacing them with large glass panels affixed to a classroom wall. These last longer and are easier to clean than chalkboards and whiteboards. The flipped classrooms would ideally have six to eight round tables for student discussions, as well as retractable computer monitors to be raised when needed.
“The great thing about the renovations is that not only are we trying to catch up with modern education, we are trying to take it a step further,” said Tabit . “We hope to take this ancient building and turn it into something that can educate our students properly for the next 50 years, which is very exciting.”
These changes will take place slowly over the next two years as planning for the renovation is still in its infant stages. Classes will not be relocated during renovation; they will simply be shuffled to other rooms in the building while builders section off the building and renovate piece by piece.
Renovations are expected to begin in January 2017.