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University Hospital of Northern British Columbia
Clinical Academic Campus, Prince George, BC
In 2013, the Ministry of Health and UBC, Faculty of Medicine asked Mc2 to be the technology design lead for the development of an new advanced classroom standard, the concept of 'flipped lectures' also known as 'reversed lectures'. The challenge was to design a class/seminar room able to function effectively as a traditional classroom, as a collaboration space with students working in groups of 6, while being fully distance education enabled!
The concept of flipped lectures is based on the teaching modality where lectures are pre-recorded, archived and hosted online, with students watching the lectures at home before attending the class. The actual classroom session is then used for the instructor to provide to provide a quick synopsis of the lecture, typically 5 - 10 minutes, while students sit in classroom style layout watching the instructor and the information presented on the front wall mount displays or screens. Then the students break into groups of 6 where they engage in group work or discussions for the majority of the class time with the instructor going around the room working with each groups as needed. Then, the students present their findings to each other and the instructor, which typically leads to engaging and constructive dialog. This teaching and learning modality has proven to not only enhance the engagement of the individual students in comparison to a traditional lecture style session, but there is also evidence that the learning retention is much higher, which, from a pedagogical perspective, is very desirable to both the program and the students.
However, incorporating this new teaching and learning modality into a classroom, and especially a distance education enabled classroom with students attending in multiple remote locations, presented many challenges. Traditionally, post secondary campuses were designed to provide break-out rooms or meetings rooms located in the vicinity of the classrooms which the students would use to do group work. However, than meant that either the classrooms or the meeting/break-out rooms would sit empty for long periods of time, and with ever reducing capital and operational funding the ministries and post secondary institutions are looking to increase utilization of space. The ever increasing cost pressure lead to the creation of the ASCH ministry standard (annual student contact hours), which in essence, from a utilization perspective means to maximize bums in seats per time and space for all teaching spaces. Maximizing usage meant that classrooms needed to be designed to accommodate both the traditional classroom layout and use as well as the flipped lecture modality, without compromising the instructors ability to teach or the students ability to learn.
MoH and UBC asked Mc2 to develop a plan and conduct an in-situ test including recording of the room audio and room acoustics data to determine the feasibility and the acoustical requirements to design a distance education enabled classroom suitable for both traditional classroom and flipped lecture style teaching and learning modalities. Mc2 took the audio and room acoustics data to develop an EASE room acoustics model, which provided the required information to determine the ideal maximum distance between seats in collaboration layout, and the minimum distance required between seating clusters to provide adequate intelligibility within the cluster, while not interfering with adjacent student clusters and the required room acoustic targets. This permitted the development of a classroom layout suitable for both usage type scenarios. That left the challenge of creating a seating layout and provide table furniture both suitable to be used in traditional classroom layout and be easily re-configured to be used in collaboration layout allowing the students within a group to be close enough to each other, yet far enough apart from adjacent groups to meet the acoustical distance requirements as determined in the in-situ testing and acoustical room model data evaluation.
It became clear that a new, unique table would be required, which would be re-configured quickly and easily by the students, without operational support, and without the risk of potential damage to furniture and/or injury to students. Mc2 developed a concept design and a prototype was developed and extensively tested, working with Exact Furniture in Ontario and the UBC FoM capital project team. This adjustable table, think B-1 bomber with adjustable wings, after extensive testing and development, proved to provide the required solution, also meeting the space utilization requirements, and was selected to be implemented at the first 72-seat flipped lecture enabled distance education enabled class/seminar room scheduled to be built as part of the new UHNBC clinical campus in Prince George, BC. Read about the table design process here.
As the Technology Design Lead of the high definition, fully digital, distance-education enabled collaboration AV systems, for the new distributed Medical Program campus, including the 72-seat multipurpose, flipped lecture modality enabled seminar room, a 35-seat seminar room, central technology control room and multiple meeting & collaboration rooms, Mc2 worked very closely with the project stakeholders and the project design team to design a new, state of the art facility meeting current and traditional teaching formats. The new clinical academic campus was completed in June of 2015 and went fully operational for the fall semester of 2015. The A/V technology Systems value was $ 1.5 Mio, and the new flipped lecture concept student table concept invented and developed by MC2 has quickly become a standard for new type, flipped lectures enabled classrooms at institutions throughout north America. Exact furniture carries this table as part of their current product line-up.
The central control room for the UHNBC rooms.