A new age of learning

The Elliott School of Communication strives for great ideas with new flexible learning space

Students and faculty already benefit from the new Digital Media Lab, which has a flexible configuration, electronics outlets and an interactive video monitor.
Students and faculty already benefit from the new Digital Media Lab, which has a flexible configuration, electronics outlets and an interactive video monitor.
 

Lecture rooms have been the typical learning environment on college campuses for more than a century, a setup Lou Heldman, former interim director in the Elliott School of Communication, believes is no longer the most effective way for students to learn.

   Heldman was one of the main forces behind the Digital Media Lab, the first flexible learning space in the Elliott School of Communication and Fairmount College. The renovation was completed as one of a group of flexible learning spaces around campus.

   “This is a place we expect great ideas to come from,” Heldman said. 

   Heldman, who is now acting director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, wanted to make the room look less institutional and more like an advertising agency or tech company. 

   A flexible learning space is a room that can be reconfigured for different needs, encouraging collaboration. The Digital Media Lab is equipped with tables with outlets for smartphones, laptops and tablets; wheeled chairs for easy mobility, and an interactive video monitor that students or instructors can operate with their Apple devices from anywhere in the room.

   The room is surrounded with windows that provide natural light, a bright Shocker yellow wall and a specially treated wall that can be written on with dry erase markers like a white board.The new director of the Elliott School, Matthew Cecil, believes the media lab is necessary for students wanting to pursue a career in communications.

“The Digital Media Lab reflects the kind of experiential learning that is the future of our field.” 

- Matthew Cecil, director for the WSU Elliott School  of Communication

   “The Digital Media Lab reflects the kind of experiential learning that is the future of our field,” Cecil said. “Students need access to up-to-date digital technology while at the same time they need flexible spaces to collaborate on projects.”

   Cox Communications, a major contributor to the media lab, focuses its charitable giving on youth, technology and education. This makes the Digital Media Lab a good fit for Cox, according to Marilyn Burrows, senior vice president and general manager.

   Eric Wilson, instructor for the Elliott School, has taught sports journalism and sports broadcasting in the Digital Media Lab and enjoys the opportunities the lab provides during class. 

   “We invite a lot of professionals in the area to come speak in the lab because it is an impressive space,” Wilson said. “It makes people more comfortable because it does not feel like a classroom.”

   Thanks to private donations, including support from Elliott School faculty and their spouses, the lab will be equipped with high-end Apple computers for fall semester with powerful software for video and web-editing.  

   “I would anticipate that all of our laboratories will ultimately be reconfigured similarly for more flexible uses,” Cecil said.

  

circle arrow To enhance the Elliott School flexible learning space or support other flexible learning spaces across campus, please contact Terre Johnson, WSU Foundation vice president for major gifts, at 316-978-3808 or terre.johnson@wichita.edu.

 
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