September 9th, 2011: If You Build It, Will They Come?

September 9th, 2011: If You Build It, Will They Come?

The opening of the UCSF Library’s new Teaching and Learning Center ( brought together a number of departments and services into one location: interprofessional smart classrooms, the Kanbar Center for clinical simulation and telemedicine, and the Technology Commons, which houses a large lab, a computer classroom, a number of multimedia workstations with specialized hardware and software, as well as support staff for both informational and instructional technologies. This presentation, focused on the Technology Commons, will include a brief review of the planning process, but will largely cover outcomes and lessons learned, as well as the impact these co-located facilities have had on usage of the Technology Commons and other Library services.

photo credit: gc communications (via flickr)

I was lucky to start my educational technology career in a highly-respected language center with a lot of personality. For someone with a background in informational technology, this was a revelation: centers didn’t need to be boring, sterile, and intimidating. In fact it’s better for everyone when they’re not. Every couple of years, someone sounds the death knell for learning centers, and frankly I agree: the old model of rows upon endless rows needs to die. Not because, as Joshua Kim asserts, learning centers are being forced into obsolescence by the influx of students with their laptops and iPads and mobile devices. The old model needs to die because it never worked that well to begin with; for decades students have learned in spite of those environments, not because of them. Increased and widespread access to authentic materials and experiences isn’t making anything obsolete, it’s just making it obvious how wrong we’ve been all along.

So then, what should centers look like? How do you build a space that isn’t obsolete before it opens? What do you when you inherit, are told to build, or have no option other than a center that looks like the one above? Please join us at Friday’s session, or share your thoughts in the comments!

If You Build It, Will They Come?
Ryan Brazell, Learning Technologies Specialist, UC San Francisco / SWALLT President-Elect
Friday, September 9th, 2011
12pm – 1pm Pacific

UPDATE: the recording of this session is now available.