Reflections from Jeanne L. Narum - November 2015

About the Design of the Roundtables

The design was intended as a prototype. Better said, an experiment.

We were testing the hypothesis that there might be a better way to initiate and integrate more creative, future-oriented attention to transforming the physical learning environment into the process of planning 21st century learning spaces for 21st century learners. Most often planning physical spaces (new/renewed) begins and ends with questions and decisions about a specific project, engaging only a small group of stakeholders. This approach is most often disconnected from ongoing campus-wide discussions focusing on student learning and learning goals, faculty enhancement, curricular, programmatic, and pedagogical initiatives, institutional vision.

To test this hypothesis, we set out to:

  • Adapt the “roundtable” metaphor, which signals a small working group of equals. It challenges the mental image of how planning discussions might proceed on a campus, particularly at the early stages.
  • Have a diverse group of experienced academics at the table, collectively representing key on-campus stakeholder communities (faculty, senior academic officers, librarians, registrars, IT, assessment, and/or TLC directors, facilities officers, etc.).
  • Invite a cadre of design professionals to the table, those experienced working with clients to pursue audacious questions, embrace the future, serve institutional vision and goals for learners and learning.
  • Focus on the integrating themes of questions and questioning.