JBA helps ASU law school envision an academic building ready for collaborative learning
There are few institutions as tradition-bound as law schools, whose methods have changed little since the founding of Harvard Law in 1854. But Trusted Advisor™ Michael Shafer has led an effort to envision new methods of learning at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, using collaborative technology to better engage students and faculty.
- ASU is moving into a brand-new six-story facility now under construction in downtown Phoenix.
- It will include 18 classrooms, a law library, a bookstore and cafe, space for two think tanks, and the offices of the world’s first teaching law firm.
- JBA is providing design consulting for all audio-visual, telecommunications, data and acoustical systems.
The unofficial goal at ASU Law is to move up from its current top-30 ranking into the top 20 law schools in the nation. To do so, they believe they need to engage students with educational technology much more than they have in the past.
- The study of law tends to be a solo pursuit, with students competing to be smarter, faster and better prepared than their fellows.
- But when they graduate, most will go into a practice where they must work as a team with other attorneys.
- ASU administrators needed a plan that would help students learn to work together more effectively without sacrificing factual learning or the development of individual problem-solving skills.
Shafer used a process he calls Visioning to help ASU administrators and faculty see how the new facility might best forward their strategic and educational goals.
The final designs for the building include:
- A new collaborative classroom, or learning studio, with infrastructure in place to easily convert other classrooms into this type of space should it prove effective at ASU Law.
- Lecture capture systems in almost every classroom to support online review and flipped-classroom teaching methods.
- An Executive Conference Room with space for 50 people to meet as equals around a large ring-shaped table. A unique multi-image projection screen is set all the way around its inside face to allow face-to-face discussions and optimal media viewing.
- A Great Hall with its entire front wall on a motorized lift to combine it with an outside courtyard for large events. It will serve as the building’s largest classroom, a forum for community events, an informal study/meeting space and, from time to time, as a courtroom for the Arizona Supreme Court, the Federal Court of Appeals and the Navajo Supreme Court.
ASU Chief of Staff Thomas Williams says, “Historically when we’ve worked with a technology consultant, we started with what we had done in the past and asked, ‘What’s the next improvement? …This time we stopped, took a long step back and said, ‘Never mind what we’ve done before. How do we want to engage with our students as we move forward?’ …JBA is a great fit for us because we agree, at a very basic level, that law schools should be constantly engaged in looking at themselves and making conscious choices in how they do things.”