Connections to Classrooms
New Website Matches Instructors, Needs With Available Spaces
Say you’re a professor looking for a classroom with a movable whiteboard. But you also need room for 60, web conferencing and a ceiling mic. Six months ago, a scheduler could spend more time searching for a space that specific than creating the syllabus.
For those charged with booking instructional space each semester, it’s a welcome change.
“The old system was fairly antiquated and only offered very basic information,” said Michael Scott Brick, director of student services for the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “I was constantly using the same rooms because at least I knew what I was getting. The new website has really opened doors to what’s available on campus.”
Through the website at Classrooms.umd.edu, faculty can search by nearly 100 criteria—such as seat configuration, specialty technology, even natural light—as well as view pictures and schedules. The site also offers user guides for any piece of classroom technology, a place to log real-time requests for help or support (including reporting broken equipment) and a forum to suggest improvements for the university administration’s ongoing efforts to modernize campus learning spaces.
“Until this new site, there was never a clear path for communication between our groups and the people who use these classrooms each day,” said Hilary Gossett, assistant director of academic facilities. “That was a critical missing link. Classrooms.umd.edu has enabled a true dialogue with the campus community.”
Since its soft launch in the fall semester, administrators have seen an uptick in certain underused spaces, such as the recording studio in the Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center, where students and faculty can record professional-quality audio and video.
Brick thinks the new classroom finder will lead to more innovative course offerings. “It encourages faculty and administrators to think about what they want their programs to look like and fosters creative thinking.”