New Spaces Welcome KCKCC Students This Semester

Posted on Friday, August 23, 2019

Watering Hole
The newly remodeled Watering Hole in the Humanities Bldg.

Summer 2019 has been a busy one at Kansas City Kansas Community College. In addition to the typical summer projects, there have been big changes made in the student area known as the “Watering Hole” as well as to four new technology-enhanced classrooms.

Ambient Learning Spaces/Watering Hole

The Humanities Watering Hole, located on the lower level of the Humanities Building, is a popular study spot on the KCKCC Main Campus. It has been freshly painted with a new color scheme and has a brand new mural on the south wall by artist Vania Soto. New furniture has been added to make the area more conducive to studying, socializing or just relaxing.

Barbara Clark-Evans, director of the KCKCC Intercultural Center and Shai Perry, coordinator of KCKCC’s Art Gallery, said the watering hole has been an underutilized space. An original feature of the college, it has not been updated since the building was constructed. They said the new design for the space enhances the original architecture with a contemporary, updated appearance.

The Watering Hole is the first location to be completely renovated as part of the Ambient Learning Spaces project. In addition, there is a new mural by former KCKCC student J.T. Daniels at the Dr. Thomas R. Burke Technical Education Center and a mural of J. Paul Jewell by Billy Peters in the Student Activities hallway in Lower Jewell. Creating ambient learning environments and adding more art and culture across the college is one of KCKCC President Dr. Greg Mosier’s initiatives. Funds have been identified to continue this work in the years to come.

“This is the perfect place for students to do assignments. The space is now equipped with new electrical outlets and spaces for individual or group work,” said both Perry and Clark-Evans of the Watering Hole. “We like that the college is becoming more colorful and celebrating local history, the college’s history and diversity. It’s great to work with local artists, historians and community members.”

Student Classrooms

The four new student classrooms are located in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Hallway across from the President’s Office. Each room is equipped with three or four large wall monitors (depending on the size of the room), individual white boards, and all of the classrooms have mobile furniture. The mobile furniture allows the professor to easily configure and reconfigure the room to support different methods of instruction and active learning strategies.

Dr. Jelena Ozegovic, faculty director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and professor of psychology, said this type of configuration allows for students to sit anywhere in the room and be able to see the monitors. It also creates a space where there is no “front of the room,” and the space can be reconfigured to support group work. At least one of the smaller size rooms is a “Zoom” room that allows students from another campus to “Zoom” in and be part of the class.

“KCKCC classrooms are being revitalized to support and reflect the best practices in education,” she said. “Specifically, the classrooms need to have mobile furniture and innovative technology that supports active learning strategies and collaborative learning models.”

Ozegovic said during the 2017-2018 academic year, several KCKCC faculty members completed the ACUE (The Association of College and University Educators) certificate course in Effective College Instruction. As part of this course, KCKCC faculty viewed online videos filmed at colleges and universities across the country. She said the classrooms showcased in these videos all had mobile furniture that supported innovative instruction and active learning. So in Spring 2018, Faculty Senate voted to send a request to the President’s Cabinet to form a Learning Spaces Task Force and asked that funds be allocated for the 2018-2019 fiscal year to begin the project.

“Acting President Dr. Jackie Vietti, incoming President Dr. Greg Mosier and the KCKCC Board of Trustees were all supportive of this initiative and recognized the importance of creating new classrooms that support best practices in education using innovative learning strategies and techniques,” she said.

Ozegovic said the new classrooms are a result of the collaboration of faculty, staff and administration who worked on the Learning Spaces Task Force during the 2018-2019 academic year. She said the Facility Services crew worked tirelessly over the summer to get the construction completed by the start of the Fall 2019 semester.

“This is a truly exciting time at KCKCC, and the new spaces allow for tremendous flexibility in teaching,” Ozegovic said. “Some faculty members might choose to rearrange the room into a u-shape for a classroom seminar. Another faculty member might rearrange the furniture into smaller table groupings to support group work. A third faculty member might rearrange the room into a ‘fishbowl structure,’ so that an outer grouping of students could observe the discussion/problem-solving of a small group in the middle of the room. The mobile furniture we selected has wheels on both the tables and chairs, and this allows the instructor and students to easily reconfigure the space.”

Category: General

Keywords: ambient learning spaces,

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