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8 Innovative Learning Spaces

"Big Red 200" is emblazoned in huge letters on the front of a set of vertical cabinets stacked side-by-side in a room stretching the length of the photo and out of frame.
Big Red 200 supercomputer. Photo by Emily Sterneman, Indiana University.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, IU was forced to reconceive its learning experiences to limit face-to-face instruction. While this transition represented a massive feat of innovation in and of itself, it also underscored the value of physical learning spaces that can support the path-breaking work of students, faculty, and staff.

As universities continue navigating the myriad uncertainties ahead, one thing is clear: IU is prepared to deliver innovative learning experiences and cutting-edge facilities that challenge the notions of what a classroom, lab, and campus looks like and does.

Ruth Lilly Auxiliary Library Facility

A warehouse facility with shelves jam-packed with books and other media materials. The shelves extend to the ceiling and are in rows that go on and on in all directions. On the image are these facts: 89,721 square feet across all three facilities; 38 degrees: temperature of the film vault; 6.4 million bound volumes capacity; 5 microclimates for various materials.
Ruth Lilly Auxiliary Library Facility. Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University.

IU Bloomington’s three Auxiliary Library Facilities (ALF I, II, and III) protect millions of precious items like books, artworks, films, costumes, and more. ALF staff also handle requests from faculty, researchers, and students who want to use items for classes, exhibits, and research.

“If we do our jobs correctly, we will have preserved the collections in our care that have been gathered and acquired over the history of our university. We can confidently hand them over to the next generation for their turn in caring for them and providing access,” said Vaughn Nuest, head of of ALF Services at IU.

IU East Archaeological Research Center

Students at IU East don’t need to go far for field school experience. In the woods near the Richmond, Indiana, campus, you’ll find replica Adena burial mounds and Maya tombs, as well as burial sites for skeletal remains and other forensic items. The one-of-a-kind outdoor laboratory enables students to conduct experimental research while also gaining valuable excavation techniques in a controlled setting. The site was made possible by a gift from retired IU East professor Rob Tolley and his wife, Nancy.

Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology

A person with long, strawberry-blond hair wearing a headset and using hand controller stands in the middle of a green-screen room with various equipment, like cameras and special lights.
A student plays a virtual reality video game created by students at the Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology. Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University.

Funded by a $5 million gift from Mark Cuban, BS’81, the center offers hands-on experiences for students interested in sports media. From their technologically tricked-out space in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Cuban Center students learn how to produce live games, studio shows, and highlights, as well as how to operate 360-degree replay systems and create virtual reality products.

Institute for Integrative Artificial Intelligence

This new institute at IUPUI capitalizes on IU’s strengths in interdisciplinary work among AI faculty experts, government and industry partners, and world-leading university IT infrastructure.

“AI is impacting every sector in direct and indirect ways, offering countless opportunities and posing significant challenges that require new and radical approaches,” said Shiaofen Fang, director of the institute.

IUPUC Simulation Center

Two women in red nurses' scrubs perform CPR on a manikin, while a third woman in red nurses' scrubs looks on.
Nursing students at the IUPUC Simulation Center demonstrate their use of a manikin in training. Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University.

One of only 100 labs in the world to be fully accredited by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, the IUPUC Simulation Center uses lifelike manikins, volunteer actors, and authentic sights and smells to create a realistic clinical setting where future nurses and health care professionals can train.

Center for Underwater Science

The whole ocean is a learning lab for students doing research for this center in IU’s School of Public Health. The center and its students have worked in the Florida Keys, Santo Domingo, and the Dominican Republic, where they helped establish Living Museums in the Sea to protect and preserve historic shipwrecks and maritime heritage.

Big Red 200

"Big Red 200" is emblazoned in huge letters on the front of a set of vertical cabinets stacked side-by-side in a room stretching the length of the photo and out of frame.
Big Red 200 supercomputer. Photo by Emily Sterneman, Indiana University.

Big Red 200 is a state-of-the-art supercomputer that enables IU researchers to tackle problems at a scale not possible before. Its speed and size will exponentially increase IU’s capabilities in medical research, artificial intelligence, earth sciences, and more.

Cruz-Uribe Interactive Classroom

Classes in business, nursing, economics, and more have used this IU East learning space, named in recognition of a gift from Chancellor Kathryn Girten and her late husband, Eugene Cruz-Uribe. The room includes several seating pods with TV monitors and virtual reality technology.

“If we don’t embrace technology, we will be behind. As far as health care and academia, we have to push ourselves to take risks . . . to move away from the standard classroom,” said Shelly Burns, clinical assistant professor, School of Nursing and Health Services.

+ 5 fun facts about IU facilities

A two-story brick home with black shutters.
Wylie House. Photo by Eric Rudd, Indiana University.
  1. Big Red 200 is six million times faster than your iPhone.
  2. IU is home to the oldest continuing psychology laboratory in America. It was opened in 1888 by William Lowe Bryan and is still going strong today.
  3. IU has more than 1,000 buildings across all of its campuses.
  4. The oldest is the Wylie House Museum in Bloomington (1835).
  5. The newest, at the time of this printing, is the Deaconess Clinic in downtown Evansville, where the IU School of Medicine conducts clinical research (2020).

This article originally appeared in the fall 2020 issue of IMAGINE magazine.

Written By

Andrea Alumbaugh

A native Hoosier, Andrea Alumbaugh is a graduate of IU (BAJ’08) and a senior writer at the IU Foundation.

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