“Flexible” Furniture Now in Mandeville B150

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Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) is proud to announce the launch of a pilot project to test new classroom furniture in one of UC San Diego’s learning spaces. The pilot, a collaboration with the Office of the Registrar, is located in Mandeville B150.

Tables and chairs on wheels replaced traditional desk-seat combinations in the classroom. The furniture is intended to better facilitate group-based collaborative work by students. Tables can be easily rearranged into several different combinations as needed for assignments. This furniture is intended not just to facilitate interactions between students, but also between students and faculty.

Professor Lilly Irani of the Department of Communication brought the idea to ACMS as a way of improving the instruction. Professor Irani designed a course that features projects and activities that required student interaction, which the new furniture will make easier. “These sorts of projects are all about thinking through debating with your team, trying things out, sketching possibilities, and tossing out old ideas. How are you going to have that kind of debate, deliberation, and exploration when everyone is sitting in their individual desk chairs, barely able to move?” Professor Irani pointed out. “The movable and pairable tables and chairs in Mandeville are crucial to enabling engaged, project-oriented pedagogy.”

Peter Newbury, Associate Director of the Center for Teaching Development at UC San Diego, points out that thanks to the fact that the tables and chairs can be arranged to create groups of four, six, or even eight students, “there’s no longer a ‘front of the room’” in Mandeville B150. “Instead of students listening passively while the instructor transmits content from the front of the room,” Peter explained, “the students are the center of the action, practicing how to think, talk, and behave in expert-like ways, with the instructor at their side.”

To learn more about flexible classroom furniture and how you can use it to enhance your teaching, contact the Center for Teaching Development at ctd@ucsd.edu or (858) 822-1992. If you are interested in teaching in Mandeville B150, talk to your department about requesting to teach in the room.

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