Wasabi desk

By Liz MacDonald

Check out the desk of the future. Nicknamed the “wasabi” or “bumper car” chairs, these eye-popping green desks debuted in one of the classrooms in the Media Learning Center last fall.

Unlike the typical stationary desks that wind up arranged in rows, these desks are on rollers, which allow students and instructors to arrange them to suit the day’s activity – whether that is paired up, in small groups or with the entire class.

Natasha Oehlman and David Calloway have found the mobility particularly useful in a class they team-teach, CHHS 125: Writing as Healing. “David takes half the class and I take the other half and we work in smaller pods,” Oehlman says. “The space and furniture have allowed us to be more versatile in our teach- ing and instruction, but more importantly have allowed our students to move around and engage in the curriculum using their bodies – as well as their minds.

“One student last semester asked if there were ‘more courses like this one that get us moving around and working together...I am always sitting in class being talked at.’”

The desks come equipped with cup holders and under-seat baskets for stu- dents to store their books and bags.

Classroom with wasabi desksIn addition to the brightly colored desks, the room has two stationery Smartboards and two 70-inch mobile touch-screens and a mobile teach- ing podium. It’s a model for the type of innovative, technologically savvy instruction CSUMB aspires to.

“Everything is flexible for whatever the class agenda presents,” says Denise Castro, who teaches a class on nursing leadership and management in the room. “I also love the touch screen features.

The other evening the students were giving a presentation and to advance their Prezi they physically clicked or dragged to move the content with their whole body. It allows them to really connect and interact with the technology.”

The Center for Academic Technologies collaborated closely with Dr. Kate Lockwood, chair of the Faculty Senate Technology Committee, to research and review the new technology and classroom design. Based on the feedback they’ve received from faculty members and students, they’ve submitted a proposal to university leadership to transform an additional six to 10 learning spaces over the next 18 months.