The Canton Corner

Empowering Students to Innovate: The University of Michigan’s North Quad Learning Spaces

Empowering Students to Innovate: The University of Michigan’s North Quad Learning Spaces

by | Apr 3, 2023

Student and Faculty Input Dictates Programming Decisions

The University of Michigan is proud to have set out to create two unique learning spaces within the North Quadrangle Residential and Academic Complex (North Quad). Administrators encouraged the North Quad working group to hold focus groups to give students a role in defining these key learning spaces, which ultimately dictated many programming decisions. This project required and benefitted from both student and faculty input on technology, space use, and staffing, demonstrating the university’s commitment to creating learning opportunities that help students discover how to take risks, innovate and embrace diverse opinions.

As a result, North Quad now offers students the opportunity to collaborate in small groups, present their work in galleries, and enjoy informal performance and social gatherings.

Through the implementation of the Media Gateway and Space 2435, North Quad has developed into a hub of interdisciplinary collaboration and creative exploration, made possible by its advanced technology resources and dedicated staff. The success of this endeavor is owed to the student-focused approach taken during the planning process, which ensured that their voices were heard and their ideas incorporated into the overall vision.

The Vision of Media Gateway and Space 2435

Achieving the Vision of Media Gateway and Space 2435

The Media Gateway and Space 2435 were both ambitious projects for a decentralized campus. The former was designed to act as an information hub, combining lounge seating with advanced technology; the latter, a shared TV studio and dining hall that allowed for collaborative scheduling. Despite facing a few conceptual challenges, the vision of these shared spaces quickly became a reality, offering students, faculty and staff a comfortable place to meet and collaborate between classes and appointments.

With the help of a working group composed of university officials, faculty, staff and librarians, the seven key factors of immersion, literacy, creation, collaboration, connectivity, flexibility and inclusion were all integrated into both projects.

Collaborative Environment

Space 2435 Vision is a modern and innovative building designed with the intention to create a collaborative environment among students and faculty. The Media Gateway on the second floor provides informal meeting points, where small groups of students and/or instructors can come together to work on group assignments, generate content, or partake in other collaborative activities. Additionally, the scheduled and programmed spaces will showcase a variety of content such as student and faculty-produced work, international news, films and documentaries, interactive video walls, and host performances, exhibits, and presentations.

The North Quad Programming Working Group is proud to have submitted this Proposal for the Programmatic Vision of North Quad to the North Quad Executive Committee in October 2009.

Incorporating Student Voice

The successful launch of North Quad demonstrates the University of Michigan’s commitment to creating learning spaces that foster and promote collaboration and innovation. By providing a space for students to present their work, small group exploration and an array of technology resources as well as a team of dedicated staff members, the university has developed a hub for collaboration and creativity. The participatory approach to planning and development, which granted students an active role in refining programming decisions, allows for an opportunity for students to develop their skills to take risks, have open discussions and potentially bring novel ideas to fruition from the comfort the university.

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