The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is building its first new classroom building since 1967 and is planning on using state-of-the-art technology throughout.

The new building will include a seating capacity of 2,000 seats, representing a 35 percent increase in campus-wide seating capacity. UCSB said the building, which is slated to be completed for the spring 2023 semester, will offer “modernized lecture halls and classrooms with the latest interactive learning and instructional technologies at the heart of the campus.”

“This building will have a transformational impact,” said David Marshall, executive vice chancellor. “We are all eager to return from the exile of remote teaching to the community of the classroom, yet we have a new awareness of the potential of instructional technologies. We can look forward to having a 21st century facility in which to reinvigorate our commitment to teaching and learning.”

Plans for the building began four years ago and are the result of feedback from students, parents, teaching staff, and university administrators.

“These conversations,” said Chancellor Henry T. Yang, “along with input from our students, parents, faculty, and staff, made it clear that our greatest need was state-of-the-art classroom space.”

Chair Gene Lucas, the New Classroom Building Committee chair and former executive vice chancellor, called the new facility “long overdue.”

“The Registrar has been struggling to schedule classes into our existing inventory for over a decade,” Lucas said. “It also provides an opportunity to develop classrooms that enable the newest teaching methods to be applied, from turn-to-teach abilities in large classrooms (enabling an almost instant transition from lecture to group study) to project-based-learning in a flipped-classroom approach. These are teaching styles that greatly appeal to our incoming students, as they have been learning in a team-based approach since kindergarten.”

While UCSB had been retrofitting older classrooms to incorporate modern technology, Jeffrey Stopple, associate vice chancellor of undergraduate education, stressed that building entirely new classrooms gives the university more options when it comes to classroom technology.

“We’ve retrofitted a lot of classrooms as best we can with modern technology, but it will be completely different to have classrooms designed for the use of technology and how that fits into today’s innovative pedagogy,” Stopple said. “Lecture halls are designed for ‘active learning,’ with seats that can turn so students can interact with each other in class. Project-based learning classrooms have multiple tables (seating 6-8) with whiteboard space and a shared computer monitor.”

Alongside school administrators, professors also praised the new opportunities the building offers for classroom learning.

“Faculty are looking forward to the opportunity to deliver high-quality instruction in a state-of-the-art building, and to engage with our students in the personalized ways that make a UC Santa Barbara education unique,” said Susannah Scott, distinguished professor of chemical engineering and of chemistry and biochemistry, and chair of the Academic Senate. “The new facility will also allow instructors to integrate new teaching technologies where appropriate and to incorporate active learning in a wide range of formats, from small interactive seminars to large lecture classes.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs