The University of Wisconsin is kicking off technological updates to campus libraries in a grand opening ceremony today as part of an effort to optimize student learning.
College Library and Wendt Commons, the engineering library, will both undergo the learning-focused remodel known as the Wisconsin Collaboratory for Enhanced Learning Center.
With a new assortment of high-technology spaces, John Booske, a UW professor of electrical and computer engineering who fronted the initiative, said WisCEL will create an entirely new meaning for a place where he said students already spend most of their time: the library.
He added the program will include new rooms and areas for small group discussions, peer advising centers and tutoring classrooms.
“WisCEL’s overriding principle is ideally to have success for all students in learning course material,” Booske said. “To make it happen, we need to concentrate and recognize that students are individuals and start at different points. We ideally want to individualize the learning style of every student.”
Booske also compared WisCEL to athletics, in that a teaching assistant in a WisCEL classroom can walk around like a coach, setting up plans according to each individual student in the room like a coach coordinates according to each player on the field.
College Library Director Carrie Kruse also said the program is designed to fit every student’s needs.
“Students coming in to take classes can interact with the space in a different way than they would with a traditional classroom,” Kruse said. “Other students can experience different styles of learning with the spaces versus the traditional study rooms.”
Wendt Commons Director Deborah Helman added she thinks past engineering students from her class would have benefited in introductory courses from the way WisCEL courses are taught, such as allowing more time to work on practice problems with an expert.
WisCEL’s technology will allow students to prepare for class by watching a video lecture. Then, to maximize learning, students will be able to work in small groups to discuss the material they watched. Meanwhile, an instructor is able to answer questions that each student or group may have, according to Booske. Finally, the students will be able to use a particular web-based software that quizzes them and gives instant feedback, Booske said.
Timothy Paustian, UW bacteriology professor and expert on collaborative technology in the classroom, added technology plays a big role in helping students learn.
“Most people are good visual learners, so if they see something displayed to them it will help them understand what is going on,” Paustian said.
The program developed from funding from the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates, as well as support from College of Engineering Dean Paul Peercy, College of Letters and Science Dean Gary Sandefur, UW Provost Paul DeLuca, Jr., and Vice Chancellor for Administration Darrell Bazzell.
The grand opening ceremony will include tours and speeches from UW Interim Chancellor David Ward, and Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Aaron Brower at College Library, and Booske and DeLuca at Wendt Commons.