Center for Connected Learning: The Undergraduate Collider Space


One of the challenges that I faced in terms of academics here, was finding the correct resources and the correct people to talk to. One of the biggest problems for me, and think for a lot of my peers, has been navigating all the information
that we have. I remember walking into Doe Library my freshman year and seeing a big sign that says “Have a question, ask a librarian!” My initial response was, that’s great, I haven’t a clue what kind of question I would ask. Students coming into college don’t know what they don’t know and part of the excitement of their learning is that kind of discovery about what is possible about what they can find out about about what they can contribute to. But it’s scary, and of course if you don’t know what you don’t know you need to start somewhere. This is a big campus and students who come here can be a bit overwhelmed Berkeley has many, many bright undergraduate students. But the downside to having such a large campus is that it’s difficult to have chance encounters with other undergraduates who have similar interests when there’s no central location. All the students I’ve talked to tell me how hard it is to really know what’s available to them, and how to make it work for them. And, often they tell me they figure it out when they’re seniors. So what we’re trying to do is create a space that actually makes that all make sense much earlier in a student’s career, so they can really treat Moffitt like a space to get exposed to what’s all possible. The library is the discovery place it’s the place that enables people to open their eyes to things they never knew existed before. Having the kinds of spaces that students can learn how to use the tools to become creators of information as well as analyzers, or critiques of that information I think is what’s really gonna prepare them for the new century We recently finished renovating the fourth and fifth floors of Moffitt. We have floors one, two, and three to go. We need to create spaces that are rich with innovation studios, and laboratories, Makerspaces, multi-media production studios, virtual reality creation labs, the types of facilities that will enable students to explore the world around them through information resources and information technology. We’re hoping to have class spaces where students are working with other students and with their instructor, and taking a class and seeing lectures and using media and other kinds of course resources. And then when they leave that classroom, they are already in the library space that they can do all these other things. As we’ve developed the Big Idea course that we’ve been working on, this course in scientific-style critical thinking, we found that we were constantly in this position of trying to find a classroom space that was suitable for this kind of highly interactive course with a lot of group activity and there aren’t that many spots on campus. We’re trying to create a center for connected learning, a space on campus, that enables that connection between classroom, studio, innovation laboratory, collaborative work space, so students can experience the type of active, engaged learning that we know works best for them. It’s a place where people can come to work together and a place where people can collaborate from different parts of campus. It’s just more of a less traditional space that really embraces who students are and how far we’ve come and the humanity that comes with studying at this institution. I’ve heard some other people on campus describe Moffitt Library as a “collider space” and I really love that idea mostly because it gives this really active notion to the idea that we’re bringing together all the main parts of the university’s mission. Elsewhere on campus we have studios and labs for students, but they’re in particular departments and in engineering, you’re only going to be working with engineering students in anthropology, you’re going to work with the anthropology students. At the library, you have this collision of all the disciplines, and all of the ideas and all of the different questions. Bringing it all in one space, I think helps kind of take this very large campus and make it make sense for students. In a lot of ways, there are synergies that’ll happen just by having all those parts, together, that wouldn’t be the same if you were just moving to different buildings across campus and finding each part on its own. Floors four and five are just the beginning they scratch the surface but they’ve opened people’s eyes to what’s possible This is the type of thing that can transform the education of undergraduates at Berkeley and enable them to continue to be the leaders of the world and the future.

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