Staff holds meeting in new ThinkSpace

The Flor-Ala editorial staff holds its weekly meeting in ThinkSpace in the basement of Collier Library March 11. Open house for the new collaboration space is March 17 at 2 p.m.

Staff Report

UNA is diving into the future of collaborative technology with the opening of ThinkSpace.

Lisa Keys-Mathews, director of the Quality Enhancement Program, invited The Flor-Ala to hold our weekly staff meeting in ThinkSpace, a collaboration space in the basement of Collier Library.

The room resulted as a project for the program, which assists students in all majors with undergraduate research, said Keys-Mathews. Researchers rarely work alone, and ThinkSpace will give them a place to bring ideas together.

ThinkSpace will hold an open house March 17 from 2–4 p.m., with the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m., she said.

The room has eight monitors — one large Mimeo television on one wall to practice giving presentations, a smaller, portable Mimeo screen on the opposite wall and groups of four and two monitors on separate walls for screen sharing.

There is also a whiteboard in the room, as well a 3-D printer and a Silhouette Cameo printer, which can cut materials like vinyl and cardboard. The room is equipped with materials for printer use.

“You can come in here anytime you want, when the door is open and the library is open, with a MakerBot file and use your flash drive and print (on the 3-D printer),” Keys-Mathews said.

Sometimes the printers have issues completing designs, but she said it is “worth trying.”

Other equipment in the room includes virtual reality video goggles and a projector that visitors can use on the wall. There is also a Keurig coffee maker.

“I was very fascinated with the technology in the room, especially the projector that turns the wall into a smartboard,” said Associate Life Editor Monday Sanderson. “(It was) much better than the rest of the technology on campus. In the communications building, where there are lots of technology-based rooms, there’s usually just computers, and those aren’t that great sometimes.”

The room also has five tables with chairs, all on wheels, which visitors can rearrange. The Flor-Ala combined most of the tables to meet, easily seating 12 current and incoming staff members with spare seating.

Having all of the staff members sitting at a somewhat “round table” made it seem easier for them to comfortably share ideas and opinions, said Managing Editor Jasmine Fleming.

“I liked being able to look around and see everyone’s faces,” she said. “Usually, in our office, some members have their backs to each other, and this seemed more inclusive.”

However, the 3-D printer was slightly noisy, which was distracting, she said. This, combined with a few support beams in the room, which hid one staff member from the view of those on the other side of the beam, made it slightly difficult for everyone to hear each other.

When the staff began the budget portion of the meeting to discuss story pitches, Editor-in-Chief Kali Daniel connected her laptop to the larger Mimeo screen to show the Google Drive document.

Having documents on a large screen, instead of individual screens, could be a benefit, said News Editor Anna Beahm.

“If you had a big screen for everyone to see, it could be easier for us all to be focused on one thing,” she said. “There could be additional things distracting us (on individual computers).“

Beahm said she would use the room again for collaboration with class projects.

Students interested in volunteering weekly for three – six hours to manage the room will receive a key to access the room any time Collier Library is open, Keys-Mathews said.