News & Events
New Collaborative Classroom to Open this Fall in Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center

Designed to meet a growing need for innovative teaching spaces on the Penn campus, a new classroom that will facilitate problem-based, or active learning and foster collaboration and student engagement will open in Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center in the fall of 2013. The classroom is a collaboration of the Penn Libraries and the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education (SCUE) and is funded through generous gifts from Larry Bass, W'67, and Chuck MacDonald, W'81. Together the gifts also provide resources for staff support of the classroom and innovative use of educational technologies.

The classroom, designed by architect Scott Erdy, will be located on the first floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, adjacent to the Reference stacks and the Kamin Exhibition Gallery. The design of the room provides an opportunity for students to work independently in small groups, with the faculty member serving an oversight or facilitator role. At present there are very few teaching spaces on campus that are well suited to fostering small-group class activities.

Features of the Room

  • Accommodates up to 30 students at small tables, each with its own display screen and laptop connections
  • Instructor station with the ability to control all display screens
  • Wireless internet connectivity
  • Dry erase wall coverings that can also serve as projection surfaces
  • Rolling chairs
  • Additional movable, hand-held whiteboards
When the room is not in use as a teaching space it will be available for student use as a collaboration space. The adjacent open area, with flexible seating, can be used in conjunction with or separate from the classroom.

The design and technological features of the Collaborative Classroom support a variety of use cases including:

  • A biology recitation engaged in a problem-solving exercise. The students work initially in groups and then share their results with the entire class.
  • A math class engaged in solving equations. Each table serves as a problem station. The students cycle through the room, contributing to the solution at each station.
  • A negotiation or debate class, where students work in groups to determine strategy and then present to the class.
  • A creative writing class engaged in critiquing a student's work. The text can be projected on the wall, edited, and re-captured.
  • A language course where group conversation exercises can easily be integrated into the fabric of the class.
  • A programming course where students can develop and share code on the displays and the instructor can easily walk among students and provide feedback.
  • A critical writing class with small groups conducting peer review of student writing.
Faculty interested in learning more about the classroom or in reserving it for the fall semester should contact Marjorie Hassen, Director of Teaching, Research & Learning Services | 215-898-2817

For more information: