Lindquist changes curriculum lab


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Sandra Damico walked through the now barren space on the first floor of the Lindquist Center — the former home of 48,000 books. Passing through rows of empty bookshelves, the dean of the College of Education pointed to where brand-new flat screens, high-tech smartboards, and a virtual- reality system would soon transform the Lindquist Curriculum Lab into an all-digital resource center.

Last spring, she put together a design team to start a major overhaul of the lab, which held children and young-adult books, textbooks, curriculum guides, and countless other resources.

The primary goal is to provide a solution to budget cuts. Damico said the education school couldn't afford to keep the lab open long enough to be a resource for students, so it is creating a one-stop "learning commons" that provides a study area and core student services in one location while relocating its books. Advisers will now have their offices in the lab. Damico said she hopes to unveil the facility in mid-fall.

"We are reconfiguring the space into something that will be more valuable to our students and faculty," Damico said.

The lab will also serve as a resource for teachers who are learning to utilize blogs, iPads, iPhones, and laptops in the classroom.

"We want all of our teachers to be leaders in their schools when they go out," said Clinical Associate Professor Pamela Ries.

But some students think the change is a hassle. Senior elementary-education major Marci Doerr is required by her classes to read six children's books a week, and she liked the convenience of the lab.

"If you're teaching a lesson, you need the books to teach, and it makes it really hard not having them here," she said.

The children's books — an aid for future teachers — are now housed in the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St. Damico said the cost of keeping the books at the downtown location costs no more than it did to keep them in the lab. She said the relocation is a win-win situation, because the Public Library is open more hours than the Lindquist Center and offers expert help.

But senior elementary-education major Angie Lechtenberg said she thinks keeping the books in the lab would have been more resourceful for her peers.

"The librarian here knows the curriculum and what projects we are doing, so she can offer suggestions," she said. "At the Public Library, they just point you toward the children's section."

Officials won't know the actual cost of the lab's transformation until they decide on a specific design, Damico said. She said she hoped to fund some devices, such as the virtual-reality system, through federal grants.

The rest of the change is internally funded by the education school. The project is separate from a similar initiative on campus, which has constructed high-tech classrooms in other campus buildings such as the Main Library.

But in addition to the resources, the team worked to create a warm, inviting environment for students overall.

"We try to pride ourselves in giving students a small-college experience at a big university," Damico said.

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