GroupWorks space at Texas Tech University Libraries
The main library at Texas Tech University, a public research university in Lubbock, has integrated Steelcase media:scape units in its study area. Each setting features a desk, rolling chairs, monitors, and technology designed for sustaining collaborative group work. In spring 2011, library staff began the process of repurposing the reference area on the first floor because of a lack of collaborative work space for students to meet, gather, and share material. Justin Daniel, systems librarian for Texas Tech Libraries, originally drew a plan for the new space to include a U-shaped desk and media well with attachments for charging and network access in each setting. Staff members deemed the Steelcase media:scape units compatible with their needs, installing 11 individual work spaces in addition to a lounge with collaborative chairs.
The media:scape technology does not require software, and the Matrix Switcher directs multiple signals to and from multiple devices. To use it, students simply connect a Puck (Personal User Control Key) to their laptop, allowing them to share information on a large monitor visible to other meeting participants. When connected to an individual laptop and Puck, an audio cable enables students to share presentations that include sound. Group members who are absent can participate in meetings on camera with HD videoconferencing equipment and connections. Media:scape digitally senses how many computers are connected at a given time, and each setting can accommodate up to eight students.
The GroupWorks space, which was given its name by students via a Facebook poll, now occupies 3,200 square feet in place of the reference collection, which was moved to the upper floor stacks. At the library, students continue to thank the librarians for providing the GroupWorks space, and professors ask how they can integrate collaborative learning into their coursework. Daniel states, “This is a definite destination.”