Innovation comes to new spaces at Virginia Tech

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Blacksburg, Va., Sept. 20 — Changes to Innovation Space: Innovation Space gets completely revamped over the summer to become a faculty-focused workspace. The room once full of stationary desks and large monitors is now collaborative pieces that can move around the space. Photo: Ashley Wills

by Ashley Wills–

For more than 20 years, Innovation Space was known as the go-to place for students to check out the latest equipment and use the latest digital technology, but now it has a new mission. Over the summer, Virginia Tech faculty at the Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies worked to completely revamp the space to become a collaborative learning area for faculty.

“As we support the faculty, the faculty get better at using teaching and learning in their technology and that ultimately impacts the student experience,” said Quinn Warnick, TLOS senior director of academic innovation.

Now, the site that once housed the latest technology will become a place where new technologies can be explored. According to Innovation Space’s website, it’s known as the Sandbox Project.

Warnick says the change better aligns with the TLOS mission.

“The Innovation Space was always the exception to TLOS’s primary mission,” Warnick said. “So the rest of TLOS was focused primarily on faculty and the Innovation Space was kind of our student-facing part of TLOS.”

The equipment once housed in Innovation Space can now be checked out at the Newman Library Circulation Desk, but the equipment is just a small part of the library’s bigger plan for the Digital Media Studio.

Patrick Tomlin, University Libraries director of learning environments,  says the space will operate much like Innovation Space but with several updates to the technology.

“Currently, there is no space on campus dedicated to digital media production that’s just for students, so we want it to answer that immediate need,” Tomlin said.

The new studio will join the library’s other studios including the 3D Design Studio, Virtual Environments Studio, Data Visualization Studio and Fusion Studio.

“Each of these studios has their own focus and services, but they are all predicated on a similar service model — we want to lower the barrier for students to embrace creative, inspiring enterprises, hands-on research and emerging technologies,” Tomlin said.

According to the Digital Media Studio website, the new studio will be located on the fourth floor of Newman Library. Tomlin expects it to open January 2018.