Renovation Creates Cutting-Edge Space for Students
After more than four decades teaching the educators of the future — and two years of renovation — the University of Idaho’s College of Education reopened its doors this fall as a vibrant, modern learning environment.
“The building inspires creativity, confidence and collaboration,” said Cori Mantle-Bromley, who served as dean from 2010 until her retirement in June.
The original building — completed in 1969 — was vacated in 2014 to be stripped to the bone for a $19 million makeover. The remodel gutted the building — removing asbestos, a crumbling exterior and leaking windows. The college has been transformed into a space that is brightly lit throughout, LEED certified for sustainability, with halls, team rooms and classrooms with comfortable, moveable furniture conducive to implementing key principles in active learning.
“When I first arrived with the college, I felt the building was tired. It felt dreary and there wasn’t much light. There weren’t any spaces that were inviting, welcoming or comfortable,” said Cori Mantle-Bromley, who served as dean from 2010 until her retirement in June. “Now, the building shows respect for people who use it, and I hope it creates a respect for what teachers do.”
During the renovation, the College of Education was scattered, with offices across campus, making it difficult for students to connect with advisors, and for faculty members to connect with each other. Reunifying the college in one space makes access easier and strengthens a sense of community.
“The collaborative spaces in the new building are fantastic,” said Alison Carr-Chellman who was hired as dean after Mantle-Bromley retired. “In these first few days of having the building at full operation, we have seen the spaces filled with students learning and collaborating together, spending time getting to know one another, and making lasting friendships. This is the kind of connection we were hoping for from the new building.”
New lounge areas and team rooms were intentionally created to increase community and collaboration among students, as well as with faculty members. From the design to colors to the furniture, the details were selected to be inviting, and she hopes that students will engage in the space and spend time in the building beyond their class hours.
“Students struggle to meet and collaborate, and often are fighting for space in the library,” said Madison Seymour a junior from Rathdrum who is studying elementary education. “The new building will make it easier to meet with advisors, access better technology and increase the ability to collaborate in new student spaces.”
Seymour, who is a student ambassador for the College of Education and represents the college at recruiting events, said she believes promoting the renovation has been influential to future students and their parents.
“Having a building where everything you need is in one space simplifies a scary process,” she said. “It helps that it is right in the hub of campus.”
The high-tech learning laboratory, the Doceo Center for Innovation and Learning, was relocated into the new education building. Since its inception in 2013, it has been located in the basement of the Bruce M. Pitman Center. The Doceo Center is now more visible, usable and centralized.
“It has been challenging to support faculty and students,” said Cassidy Hall, the Doceo Center’s interim director and technology integration specialist. “Now, there will be myriad opportunities for the center to be integrated not only with the college, but also the university.”
The relocated Doceo Center has increased seating capacity and is located next to the new Curriculum Center to allow equipment to be checked out alongside books. Students will have more hands-on time and greater access to the tools they will need to use in their own classrooms upon graduation. In addition, the building now has a Technology Enhanced Active Learning space — known as the TEAL Room — and a science room, which house additional technology.
“The students will be able to learn about the possibilities of integrating technology — not just what is best practice, but using what is available,” Hall said.
Hall said the technology is highly collaborative and created so students can learn from each other. Having the Doceo Center integrated into the building and equipped with brand new technology sets the groundwork for increased active learning.
“With the active learning model, students get involved in learning and not just sitting passively,” she said. “The more students feel involved in classes, the more they will be devoted to learning.”
Brant Miller, assistant professor of science education, is excited about being engaged in the new building. He recalls being a new faculty member at U of I in 2011 and being devoted to exploring technology integration into his classes, but facing a dated Smart Board in a classroom.
“I spent hours on the phone with tech trying to bring this tired old Smart Board back to life,” he said.
Miller said he is thrilled that the college now has a space that is up-to-date, collaborative and collegial.
“The new space provides the latest of what we know to be effective tools in teaching and learning. It allows us to explore the possibilities to inspire students broadly and creatively to influence change,” he said. “As a state, regional and national leader in education, we need to inspire. We will be a showcase for teaching and learning.”
— Written by Allison R. Stormo, College of Education