Classroom Design | News

Rochester Institute of Technology Pilots 'Classroom as a Learning Tool'

The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has teamed with a private partner to create a "classroom as a learning tool" pilot in an effort to create a space that encourages active learning.

Features of the redesigned classroom include moveable furniture, interactive whiteboards and large monitors for easy lines of sight from anywhere in the room.

RIT's "classroom as a learning tool" features moveable furniture, multiple monitors and interactive whiteboards. Image courtesy of RIT.

The classroom is the result of a collaboration between RIT's Innovative Learning Institute and "Steelcase's Learning Innovation Hub program, which centers on advancing research on the impact of active learning while providing institutions with opportunities to pilot active learning methods," according to a news release.

Four faculty members, chosen for their responses to questions about how they would use the room and the technology and how the space could be used to enhance their teaching and help create interactive learning opportunities, will teach in the space. One of those chosen is Assistant Professor Sandra Connelly, of the RIT College of Science, who will lead a biology course in the room.

"The greatest thing that this room provides is personal interactive space — meaning the students don't see me as a talking head but instead as someone who can sit with them, write on the white boards right beside them and truly have a one-on-one experience in the space, with me, the course learning assistants and their peers," said Connelly, in a prepared statement. "My students who need that one-on-one connection are jumping at the opportunity to meet there. The space is relaxing, and just informal enough to make learning (and teaching) come more easily."

As part of the pilot, Steelcase will gather information from the instructors and their students in an effort to study how much and in what ways the physical environment affects student behavior and learning outcomes. The university will also use the feedback "to develop new teaching modalities and provide that information to our faculty through online and other training," said Ian Webber, assistant director of the Innovative Learning Institute, in a news release.

"We are very pleased about this partnership with Steelcase Education, which will help RIT create the best learning environments possible for our students," said RIT President Bill Destler, in a prepared statement. "We expect that our faculty will learn a great deal from how the design of this classroom impacts learning that can be applied to other spaces across the campus."

Founded in 1829, RIT serves approximately 15,000 undergraduate and 2,900 graduate students with about 1,500 faculty members at "nine colleges emphasizing career education and experiential learning," according to information on the university's Web site. Visit for more information about RIT. Learn more about Steelcase Education at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at

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