Friday, November 7, 2008

Get LINKed in

The newly-designed LINK, located on the lower level of the Perkins Library, has 6 classrooms, 4 seminar rooms, and 11 group study rooms, all equipped with projectors, flat-screen televisions, and wall-to-wall whiteboards. It has a slick, colorfully modern design with orange, white, purple, and metallic elements, complemented by extensive windows. I really like the style of the place-- it’s certainly a change from the typical classroom environment.

One of my classes is held in a seminar room of the LINK. There’s one big conference table in the center, ringed by chairs. There’s also two full walls of whiteboard space; the rest is windows. My teacher can use a touch screen to lower the projector screen, turn on the projector, and dim the lights. She says she’d love to teach in the LINK again next year, because it has been so helpful for teaching the class.

The various classroom spaces are centered around the Office of Information and Technology (OIT) help desk. The desk is staffed by technological genii and trained students, who are equipped to help people with technology-related problems. Also at the desk, students and faculty can borrow cameras, iPods, and other technology for a two-week period as easily as they would a library book. This service, made possible by the Duke Digital Initiative (DDI), is incredibly useful. A few weeks ago I was able to check out a sleek little FlipCam from DDI for a documentary assignment. It’s nice to have access to this kind of technology on an as-needed basis, and without having to pay.

The LINK also has Windows and Mac computer clusters for student use. These computers are loaded with useful programs, including statistical and geographic information system (GIS) software that is only available in a few other places on campus. I’ve used a GIS program on the Macs. The Windows and Mac computers in the LINK all have gloriously huge monitors, which makes them pretty fun and efficient to use.

However, what students seem to appreciate most about the LINK is the ample study space. The comfortable chairs and booths are all very popular, either for study, snacking, or sleep. I can certainly vouch for the funky purple chairs; they’re one of my favorite places to study.

The group study rooms provide a great space for collaborating on projects or studying for tests. Students can use the expansive whiteboard space for a variety of purposes, from diagramming molecules to declining French verbs. I’ve even seen a whiteboard used for an epic cartoon battle of Godzilla versus Pikachu. All told, the LINK is an innovative academic environment that promises to enhance students’ learning experiences.

No comments: