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Educators from around the region are meeting at UT today for Design Interface, an annual classroom design conference affiliated with the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center and UT’s Learning Consortium.

Portions of the conference are being held at the Frieson Black Cultural Center and Hodges Library, and participants will tour the Humanities and Social Sciences Building, Tickle Engineering Building, and the Library Commons.

“The UT Commons have won awards for their design. We are keeping up with classroom design nationally, and I believe that UT should promote their great work,” said Taimi Olsen, director of Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center.

Design Interface focuses on learning spaces and how teaching and learning take place.

“Design thinking is a perspective that joins the threads of instructional design and space design into a purposeful creative process for transforming higher education teaching and learning,” said Olsen.

Olsen said that this conference addresses this intersection of learning spaces, design thinking, and instructional design, bringing theory and practice together.

There are twelve outside institutions sending participants—including Purdue University, Indiana University, and Auburn. Locally, Tennessee Tech and Western Carolina participants are also presenting.

This two-day event will include keynote speakers, presentations, workshops, and interactive panels.

Julie Little, former UT employee and now vice president of Educause, is the first keynote speaker and will present “Design to Engage: Learning Space to Advance Learner Success.” In her role at Educause, she is responsible for the design of professional programs to advance IT leadership in higher education.

On Saturday morning, UT Professor David Matthews will be leading a hands-on workshop titled “Design Thinking Workshop.”

“I am excited to introduce how to think about the future and some of the group work activities,” Matthews, the chair of interior design said. “It is interesting to see other people’s point of view as they approach new ideas.”

Matthews said he hopes individuals will learn the basic tools of design at this workshop.

Olsen said she hopes participants will learn more about the relationship between learning and classroom design.

“I want participants to leave the conference with a better understanding of the natural conversation of learning spaces and why they are so important to student learning and the innovative things that our university is doing to contribute to this movement,” she said.

The conference will conclude with a reception in Hodges Library’s Mary E. Greer room.

A tentative schedule of events can be found here.

C O N T A C T:

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,