Class space designed for creative innovation and collaboration

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The F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson Collegehas recently renovated the Olin 125 classroom to enhance design thinking and entrepreneurial thought and action. The completely remodeled classroom, Design Zone 125, opened this month and was specifically designed to enable collaboration, creative thinking, and problem-solving.

The recent surge in new graduate programs and courses that employ design methods to teach entrepreneurial approaches required more classroom space that enables and supports innovation. This fall, for example, Babson launched the new MSM in Entrepreneurial Leadership (Masters of Science in Management) program. Since innovative problem-solving is an essential goal in the MSM degree program, faculty and staff sought to recreate the space to help shape the culture and habits of a creative learning community.

The renovation planning was led by members of the graduate school team including, Sebastian Fixson, MSM Faculty Director, Ben McConchie, Director of Capital Projects and Planning, and ​Erin Freda, Manager of Graduate Operations and Administration.  In preparation of developing the new  design of the space, they visited the Stanford Design School (d. school) and attended a design workshop led by Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft, co-authors of the book, “Make Space,” which focuses on how the design of a space can impact creativity.

When you enter Design Zone 125, it is unlike any other classroom space on campus.  In contrast to the typical business classroom with fixed furniture in a theater-style seating arrangement, the design zone has a flat concrete floor and everything is portable. There are high top tables on wheels, stools, movable white boards and dividers, workshop space for prototyping, and cubbies to store work materials. This untraditional classroom furniture supports project-based learning as it allows quick transitions between cooperative discussions, group work, and design reviews.

“All the furniture we chose to include in the classroom will help students think and engage better with students and faculty. Studies have shown that we are a lot more creative and energetic when our bodies are in upright postures. The high tables and stools promote standing up,” said Fixson.

Design Zone 125 will serve as home to LEAP (Leading Entrepreneurial Action project) in the MSM program and the MBA Product Design and Development course. Also, the Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship course, taught jointly with Olin College and Massachusetts College of Art and Design, will also utilize the room. On Mondays and Fridays, the design zone is open studio space for all graduate students and staff.

Outside of Design Zone 125 in the upper left hallway, there are cubbies and hooks made available to students. This allows students to hang up their white boards so they can revisit the space and continue to work even when the classroom is in use. 

“For us, this is not just a new room it’s a physical manifestation of the pedagogical approach we are using with our students that enhances entrepreneurial thought and action,” said Nan Langowitz, Associate Dean of the Graduate School.

Fixson says the room set-up positively changes the level of student engagement.
Langowitz emphasized that Design Zone 125 shows Babson’s commitment to our pedagogy and investment in interactive learning and new forms of teaching.

About Babson College

Babson College is the educator, convener, and thought leader for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds​​​​​®​. The College is a dynamic living and learning laboratory, where students, faculty, and staff work together to address the real-world problems of business and society—while at the same time evolving our methods and advancing our programs. We shape the leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge and the skills and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams in a common purpose to create economic and social value. As we have for nearly a half-century, Babson continues to advance Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® as the most positive force on the planet for generating sustainable economic and social value. ​​​​​​​​​

By Lindsey Cunningham, , 781-249-4548 | 09/24/2014 05:05