By Bethany Prentice
The announcement of bringing something new to the otherwise barely-used space above Belk Dining fell upon eager ears shortly before the summer break. Students had to wait only three hot months to return to campus to see what had been done to renovate the second floor of Belk.
Now fully wheelchair accessible, 2nd Floor Belk opens into a beautifully expansive place for food and study that, according to one William Peace University Alumna, “Almost doesn’t even look like Peace.”
The new space was designed by William Peace’s Associate Vice President for Buildings and Grounds John Cranham. An alumni of William Peace himself, Cranham has been helping the school manage the ground’s beauty and sustainability for almost seven years. In designing the school’s newest addition, Cranham traveled all the way to the University of Charlotte to get inspiration for the technology to be added.
Cranham says that what he saw with the University of Charlotte library was “technology’s potential for education.” Cranham wanted to give students the chance to study in a setting that was “different than Flowe,” and the conference area in 2nd Floor Belk does just that.
The main conference room is set up, well, exactly as a conference room: a round table with rolling chairs spread around it. If one wanted to separate into groups, the table itself breaks apart into smaller parts for a “true classroom setting.”
The room sits a total of twenty-six students, equipped with three glass markerboards and an interesting new feature which at first appears to be a giant flat-screened TV.
This TV, as well as a second TV just outside of the conference room is touch sensitive and runs off something called the Think HUB. Capable of simply drawing on the screen or pulling up blank documents to type in the Think HUB doesn’t appear all that powerful.
However, the Think HUB is also capable of opening up it’s own browser window (running something called Chromium, an application in it’s alpha stage released by Google Chrome) to give students and teachers alike the endless possibility of online research and sharing with just a touch of the fingertips.
The Think HUB is also more than capable of opening up documents or slideshows from a thumbdrive, and most excitingly: wirelessly shared from a tablet. Using the Think HUB in coordination with wireless devices can give a much more fluid feel to teaching and being taught.
Instead of sitting in rows in a classroom students can now sit facing each other as collaborative equals during class, and teachers are no longer confined to a podium prison.
This powerful new tool in education can pave the way for the future of learning at William Peace with Cranham calling the study space a “showcase for moving forward”.
Paired with a new panini bar run by William Peace’s newest food service partnership Sandella’s, upstairs Belk now welcomes students of all kinds to relax and learn.