The Von KleinSmid Center, a central building for classes and student meetings on campus, has recently been upgraded with new square desks and adjustable chairs as part of a larger initiative from the Office of the Provost to update learning spaces on campus.
“The idea behind it was to look at learning spaces and see if they fit the needs of the students and the teachers in the 21st century,” said Joseph Cevetello, director of learning environments from Information Technology Services.
The decision to change the desks and chairs was made after a series of interviews with students and faculty, when ITS decided that mobile and adaptive desks would be added to many of the VKC rooms.
“One of the things that came out of the meetings was that people felt there were a lot of challenges in the VKC learning spaces,” Cevetello said. “The rooms were uncomfortable and the seating was not appropriate, and the spaces seemed very inflexible with what you could do.”
The new desks are meant to provide a more updated classroom that better fit the students and teachers, Cevetello said. All of the desks and chairs now have wheels and the chairs are adjustable to offer more comfort to a wider range of students.
“In the other classroom buildings we tried out other designs,” Cevetello said. “In [the Social Sciences building], we went with tables and chairs and also some new individual desks.”
This upgrade, part of an ongoing initiative, has already renovated 53 classrooms, three auditoriums and three computer labs.
The overall goal is to renovate all 200 learning spaces — classrooms and computer labs — on campus.
Yet students have had mixed reactions regarding the new desks at VKC. Although some students said the furniture looks updated and gives the classrooms a high-tech feel, others are concerned with their effectiveness in providing decent seating in classes with a larger number of students.
“I find the new desk and chair setup to be very uncomfortable,” said Tammy Batzofin, a senior majoring in health and humanity. “I have to crane my body to see the board, since if I come in late the only seats open are the ones with the backs to the teacher. That makes it very uncomfortable to pay attention during class.”
Michelle Gossman, a senior majoring in health promotion and disease prevention, agreed.
“I also find the new desks to be a bit of a hassle,” she said. “In my classroom there are just too many people in the class so with the way the desks are oriented only half of the desk space is useful since the other half faces the board.”
Other students said, however, they enjoy the new comfort and space that the desks and chairs provide.
Brandon Nguyen, a sophomore majoring in international relations, said he liked the new chairs because they are more comfortable, as well as the flexibility of the new furniture.
“You can move the tables around,” Nguyen said. “It does make it more crowded … fewer chairs, fewer desks could be better.