Cathy Wolfe, Director of Campus Planning- George Mason University and LSC NSF Project team member
During the January 2012 LSC webinar, Cathy discussed her experiences with developing active learning spaces at Mason, describing what works at the institutional level to have an effective program of space management.
There needs to be:
- Institutional buy-in at the highest level, connecting the importance of attention to learning spaces to a value proposition, asking “how do the learning spaces/platforms for learning contribute to why a student would choose to enroll at our university?”
- Campus culture, in which there are ongoing conversations about learning and why space matters. Such conversations raise broad awareness of possibilities and challenges for shaping effective spaces for learning…”when you know better, you do better!”
- Broad participation, engaging students, faculty at different career stages, as well as colleagues representing academic administration, offices of the registrar, information technologies, centers for teaching excellence from within the campus, as well as outside experts and consultants.
- A shared understanding and vision, with each person committed to beginning with the end in mind.
- An action agenda that keeps everyone’s ‘eye on the prize.’ A process for finding ways to keep all stakeholders motivated along the way, without being distracted by obstacles and naysayers.
- Attention to actual and perceived barriers, including regulatory (for public institutions) and funding realities (for all institutions).
- Time and space for being nimble, policies that allow testing ideas out, the piloting of innovative ideas, the taking of small steps.
Cathy and her colleagues at George Mason are actively taking steps to deepen campus-wide awareness of how space matters to learning.