With UCF moving in the direction of active learning classrooms, we need a space to “play” with the furniture and technologies we are considering using. The Sandbox is a collaboration among the Faculty Center, the Office of Instructional Resources (OIR), and UCF Information Technology (IT). This is a space where faculty can experiment with and apply various pedagogies, furniture layouts, collaborative tools, and digital technologies to enhance teaching and learning. See the video below, courtesy of CDL Video Services, for more information about the Sandbox.
Can I teach in the Sandbox?
As of 2023, scheduling in the Sandbox is done centrally through the Registrar’s Office. Contact your College/Department scheduler to work with the RO to check on availability and reserve the room. Your scheduler checks in Astra if the classroom is open at a certain time, and then emails firstname.lastname@example.org to formally request the room.
What technologies are in the Sandbox?
The Sandbox has a few features that are different from most classrooms:
- Extra screens and whiteboards. The Sandbox was built to mimic theater in the round, and doesn’t technically have a front of the room. Faculty can present from one screen/podium that mimics a traditional front of room, but they could alternately lower a screen in the back and flip this around. Or present from a short-throw projector on the side. Or even from the interactive whiteboard on the side. There are glassboards on many walls (replacing the walls, in fact), and several TV-sized monitors embedded in the walls.
- Non-traditional furniture. This includes several sets of “picnic style” tables set up against the glasswalls and monitors, enabling groupwork that might also use either boards or the screen, as well as several “swivel” type student desk-chairs that make it easy to turn to a neighbor and talk.
- Screen-sharing technology. The room is equipped with “Ditto,” a software that enables faculty to push what’s on their screen to student devices, or, with student permission, display the student’s device on the big screen (or even all screens).
- Interactive (digital) whiteboard. This digital board uses special hardware instead of regular dry erase markers. This Epson brand is similar to Promethean and SmartBoard brands.
- Portable battery chargers at student tables. There is a limited number of portable chargers that can be attached to student tables, enabling them to recharge devices without rewiring the room. The batteries for these are normally at the front of the room in recharge cradles.
Is training required?
There is no formal training required to teach in the Sandbox. However, there are several unique elements to the room, including several technologies not in most classrooms. Faculty scheduled to teach in the Sandbox will receive an invite shortly before the start of each semester to an optional in-person training, and asynchronous training materials will also be available.
Can I schedule a “one-off” event in the Sandbox?
Questions about scheduling the Sandbox, including single-date events, are handled by the Registrar’s Office. For schedulers with access to Astra, the Sandbox’s availability should be visible.