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A bright idea
Posted 10/16/2015 10:35AM

Bright ideas come in many different ways – sometimes by accident, other times out of need. The concept of the new IdeaLab and Collaboration rooms at Parish came to light during some creative thinking. The Humanities Department was in need of its own “maker space,” a flexible place to collaborate and discuss ideas outside of the classroom. The library seemed like an ideal location and resource, except there was one question: how could students and faculty toss around ideas while maintaining the atmosphere of quiet study? After a year of planning, Parish decided to build rooms out of glass that would allow several groups to work effectively in the same space. The IdeaLab and Collaboration rooms look like fish tanks, but they really serve as think tanks for project-based learning and research.

“We wanted to keep our books and we also wanted to allow connectivity for devices and online resources,” said Leigh Ann Jones, Ph.D., Director of Libraries.

“It needed to be a flexible space, the furniture needed to be moveable for individual and group projects, for whole classes. It needed to be collaborative,” she added.

Both rooms offer configurations and technology not available in the classroom. For example, the IdeaLab can accommodate 20 people. There are 20 rolling essay desks – futuristic desks that were designed and modified by Purdue students – a share wall, a 70” TV and teacher’s station for docking.

“The IdeaLab has everything I’d want in an ideal classroom: multiple flexible learning spaces, with a wide variety of resources close at hand. The reference books are just around the corner; there are flat-screen TVs, which students can use to share research and creative work; the whiteboard spaces are large and convenient; and the desks are easy to move and manipulate. This space supports differentiated instruction better than any classroom I’ve seen or even imagined,” said Chris Schmidt, Upper School English SAC.

The Collaboration room is smaller and serves media needs. It has seating for seven people around a horseshoe technology table; plug-ins are available for up to four devices so users can work collaboratively with multiple technological resources and/or projects: Google Docs, graphs, websites and other online resources. It’s also the perfect space for conferences and small meetings.

“This expands [teachers] options in terms of space and usage. It gives them more choices and flexibility,” said Jones.

The library also added a charge bar for those who need to plug-in phones, laptops and other devices. Generous donations from Kelly and Charles Lipscomb and an anonymous donor, plus Capital funds from Parish covered the costs of the labs and charge bar. The new editions have been quietly bustling with activity since they opened in early October.

“It’s been really nice to see the teachers and students use it for different purposes and it’s almost immediately become really busy; a really popular place,” said Jones.

The IdeaLab and Collaboration rooms are booking up quickly. Please contact the director of libraries to reserve the spaces

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