Room to Grow

September 22, 2020

By J. Charlotte Jarrett ’08

Photo by Scott Cook.

Within the new Kathleen W. Rollins Hall, interdisciplinary learning takes place in high-tech, sun-drenched spaces created for collaboration.

Perched above the inviting green space of Tars Plaza in the center of campus, Kathleen W. Rollins Hall bustles as a hive of student activity and career-making mentorship. New meeting spaces, seminar rooms, and interactive, high-tech classrooms are strategically designed to maximize student engagement, relational learning, and community-building collaboration.

The classrooms feature conference-style seating, an abundance of natural light, impressive views of Lake Virginia, and a suite of state-of-the-art technology.

“I think about these spaces not as classrooms but as laboratories because of the involvement of students in experimentation and collaborative problem solving,” says Micki Meyer, Lord Family Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs-Community. “The liberal education of our students is at the center of everything we do at Rollins. These rooms allow education to come to life in ways that are relevant, engaging, and grounded in active learning.”

Nearly 40 faculty members have already started teaching classes in Rollins Hall in everything from anthropology and English to psychology and international business.

“The new classrooms are very conducive to group work and to encouraging student leadership in class,” says sociology professor Amy Armenia, who taught Sociological Theory in Rollins Hall this past semester. “The structure and the space really change the atmosphere and help us create more energy and innovation in our work.”

Projections of Success

“One of the most powerful things about these classrooms is the ability for everyone to make their work visible,” says Susan Singer, vice president for academic affairs and provost. It’s modern-day learning made possible by Christie High-Definition Projectors, which deliver exceptional image quality, brightness, and versatility. And because the rooms are long, they feature two projectors each to maximize the use of space for visual learning.

Bringing the Outside In

Classrooms feature plentiful natural light, with windows on two walls offering views of Tars Plaza, Knowles Chapel, and Olin Library. The use of glass interior walls further complements this open atmosphere, inviting other students, faculty, and staff to witness learning in action as they visit this third-floor learning oasis.

Working Together Wirelessly

In addition to top-of-the-line HDMI and USB-C connections, each of these interactive classrooms is also equipped with air media for wireless projecting straight from the source. This allows students and faculty to share content from laptops or other devices, maximizing connectivity in our digital world.

Whiteboards That Do More

“The classrooms speak to innovation and the pragmatic liberal arts, creating opportunities for students to learn in a 21st-century environment,” explains Meyer. A vital part of that includes the generous use of Clarus Glassboards throughout the learning environments. These high-tech whiteboards feature abundant writing space that doubles as a projector on wheels, so that the boards can also be also utilized as partitions, sound barriers, and space dividers.

Configured for Collaboration

“When you walk into the rooms, one of the first things that strikes you is that students sit in spaces where they’re facing and engaging with each other,” notes Singer, whose course Sputnik to Space Force congregated in Room 320 this spring. This collaborative environment is fostered by movable furniture and tables that can be rearranged according to the class content.

A Rollins professor leads a discussion in an outdoor classroom.

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