Is this classroom smarter than a fifth-grade classroom?

March 6, 2014

By Tommy Benson ‘17

30 iPads equipped with requested apps for easy access.

Moveable desks and detachable white boards help facilitate group collaboration.

The classroom of the future is ready for today's students on the campus of Saint John's University.

Room U12 in Alcuin Library has been transformed into a state-of-the-art collaborative learning space. 

The Tse Yiu Kai classroom can be used for teaching, group projects or training sessions. Its 25 mobile, tablet armchairs allow for easy mobility and can be rearranged for small group projects. Additionally, they have a sturdy compartment built in for iPads available for classroom use. 

The space also breaks ground on being the first HD compatible classroom at SJU.  Its 80-inch and 40-inch monitors can both play Blu-Ray Disks, making this space an excellent area to watch class films. Their hookup with the teacher's computer allows the class to see what the teacher sees. 

Timothy Carlin '15 was impressed by the monitors. "I thought the usage of the television screen was excellent as it creates a close learning community while still allowing for a full-sized class," he said.

In the future, these monitors will be hooked up to Apple TV, which will create an even greater use of the iPads.

The technology could be intimidating to the average person.  But the true beauty of this space is how user friendly it is, said Adam Bauer, media services manager. "You don't have to be an engineer to work the equipment," he said.

Along with the technological advantages, the room also has detachable white boards. This is convenient if small groups want control of their own white board before presenting their ideas for classroom collaboration.

David Malone, fine arts librarian, believes that the technology is a great tool, but that the advantages of this classroom go beyond that. One of the goals of Malone, and Kathy Parker, director of libraries, was to make it an aesthetically appealing learning environment. Vibrant colors, solid acoustics and a lowered ceiling accomplish this. Original teak woodcarvings from Hong Kong hang on the back wall.

All these aspects come together to create what Carlin described as "an excellent learning space with many useful technological and classroom tools to utilize."

Funding for the Tse Yiu Kai classroom's furnishings, art and technology was provided through a gift to Forward  Ever Forward, The Campaign for Saint John's, from Steven and Thomas Tse '88. The classroom is named in honor of their father, Tse Yiu Kai '59, one of the first SJU graduates from Hong Kong.