Over the summer, Denney Hall’s second floor received a major makeover. The hallway tiles have been replaced, as have the desks and carpets in the classrooms. The project, led by Ohio State’s Office of Distance Education and eLearning, increases the accessibility of the space and improves its functionality, versatility and overall aesthetic.
Associate Professor Margaret Price, a specialist in disability studies, played a significant role in the remodeling. A self-described “squeaky wheel,” Price made sure the English staff were aware of the project and encouraged them to share their input. “I hate teaching in classrooms where my students are uncomfortable,” Price says. “It’s terrible for learning—and it’s just unkind.”
Price notes that the old furniture was inadequate. In her classes, she often asks students to rearrange their desks for small group collaboration. “Not only did it take a long time, but the din of 160 wooden chair legs scraping over linoleum was incredible. I used to have to cover my ears, and so did quite a few of my students.” The classrooms now allow for a wide variety of teaching and learning styles. For example, one new desk model facilitates both right- and left-handed writers. This same model allows the user to control the proximity of the writing surface to their body, thus being more accommodating of various body types and spatial preferences. Other classrooms feature desks that can be put together in small groups, long rows or circles to meet the needs of all our instructors, whether they are teaching a lecture, leading a workshop or facilitating peer review sessions. All of the classrooms feature new carpet which, in addition to looking more modern than our beloved old diner-style tile, functions as a sound dampener. As a result, the spaces have been a major improvement to the building.
“I’m now teaching in two Denney classrooms with the new furniture, and I’ve been surprised at what a difference it’s made,” says Price. “The new items aren’t perfect for everyone, but the general sense of inflexibility and discomfort that the old, small, heavy wooden desks used to carry seems to be greatly lessened.”
The department would like to thank all faculty, staff and students who contributed feedback.