When it rained, water used to leak from the ceiling in the Richel Learning Center in Cremer Hall, Tabetha Schoenfield, senior biology major said.
The newly renovated learning center, however, does more than just stay dry.
Through a $50,000 project put together by the IT office, the Facilities department, and the School of Business, the Richel Learning Center went through major changes over the summer with construction starting right after the 2013 spring semester.
Cory Falldine, associate chief information officer in the IT office, said the Richel Learning Center is composed of three areas–the classroom, the learning commons, and four breakout rooms.
“We wanted the new Richel to be student-focused and student-friendly,” said Melanie Willingham, IT help desk manager. “Technology has changed so much we wanted it to be up to date.”
When class is not in session, the classroom becomes a computer lab thanks to adjustable glass walls that rise and descend. Falldine said the computers in the lab were not replaced, but the hardware and software is new.
The classroom also features an interactive projector with the ability to stream an iPhone or iPad on the big screen, as well as high-definition for all the equipment in that area.
In the learning commons, there are charging stations for smartphones as well as power outlets at most tables and seating areas. Megan Monk, freshman chemistry major, said her iPhone’s battery would often run down when she studied overnight in the old center.
“But then I found out that (the new learning center) actually had a charger built in for the iPhone 4 and I was so happy,” Monk said.
The breakout rooms are designed for working on group projects, Falldine said. They feature adjustable furniture and movable whiteboards. There is one floor-to-ceiling writable wall, two interactive “ViewStation” systems with large LCD TVs and Skylab technology for video conferencing and presentations, and an audio/video cart with a projector a laptop.
Willingham said there are now two vending machines, one with snacks, and one with drinks as well as a microwave and barstool seating, “so students can snack during an all-nighter.”
The new learning center is not any bigger than it used to be. Falldine said they simply “maximized” the space that was available to them.
“We have School of Business students that have come in and said that they can’t hardly believe it’s the same room,” Falldine said.
Falldine said the old learning center, which was composed of two computer labs and a few offices, had been good in its time, but it had become necessary to adapt the space to changing learning styles.
“We redesigned the room to make it more flexible,” Falldine said.
Although the Richel Learning Center has been redone and is open to students and faculty, Falldine said IT, the Facilites office, and the School of Business wanted to add more features when funding becomes available.