Campus, News

CSULB officials to build four outdoor classrooms

CSULB’s Beach Building Services officials plan to build four outdoor classrooms across campus during the Fall 2022 semester for students and faculty.

Construction will begin in August 2022 and the outdoor classrooms are expected to be completed by October.

“Professors were already taking their classes outside every once in a while,” said Michael Gardner, the campus director of planning and sustainability. “We just wanted to make it easier, along with the fact that we’ve already been building more study areas for students.”

The new classrooms will not be available for full-semester courses. Professors will be able to reserve the classrooms to teach for the day. When the classrooms are not in use for lectures, students are permitted to use the space as a study area.

College of Business outdoor classroom rendering
College of Business outdoor classroom rendering. Photo credit: Michael Gardner

Technology for these classrooms will be limited, resembling a more simple classroom model with a speaking podium and hard surfaces for writing. The rooms will have power outlets for students to plug in their electronic devices and lighting for night classes. However, no flat panel screens or projectors will be available.

“It’s not meant to be the same experience; it’s meant to be a more natural experience,” Gardner said. “It’s not really meant for testing or anything.”

There are studies that show that K-12 students learn better in an outdoor environment, with increased test scores and overall student achievement. Although this might not be the case for college students, this is the effect Gardner hopes to achieve.

“I’d have to see if that’s the case for me, but I’d definitely try them out,” said Illora Davis, a senior business major.

The four planned outdoor classrooms will cost around $350,000, according to Gardner. The classrooms were paid for using funds from the Federal HEERF funding (Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding) to provide alternative learning environments in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Map locations of the outdoor classrooms
Map locations of the outdoor classrooms. Photo credit: Christian Lopez

The four classrooms will be placed around campus, one south of the Design building, another north of the College of Business, another near Liberal Art buildings 4 and 5, and the other located in the Engineering Technology courtyard.

Each classroom is designed to host around 30 students and will be made of outdoor, weatherproof material. The furniture will be made from recycled material like HDPE plastic or made of reusable wood and metal, according to Gardner.

Schools like LBCC and UC Davis have already branched out to outdoor classrooms since the beginning of the pandemic. Though the classrooms are still far off, some students are relieved since it means there will be more study space.

“It sounds really nice now that everyone’s back,” said Dessi Cole, a biology major. “These days the library is usually pretty busy.”

Should these outdoor classrooms prove to be popular, Gardner said it is likely the school will consider building more in the future.

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