The University of Phoenix formally opened its new primary campus in Tempe Thursday, moving offices and classrooms from the Hohokam Towers in the university’s namesake city to the new John Sperling Center for Educational Innovation.
The primarily-online university moved into two towers located at 1625 and 1601 W Fountainhead Parkway in early January. The first day of classes in the new building were held on January 2.
The new “on ground” campus brings together a mixture of technology, design and classroom instruction in the “Classrooms Without Boundaries.”
“It allows them to collaborate with the class in ways that they (students) do best,” said James Back, IT manager. “It might be through a laptop that they can plug into the wall. It might be through touch, so they can write on the desk or on the walls. Whatever means they need to engage in the class, it’s there.”
The rooms feature plug-ins for an assortment of electronic devices, such as laptop computers, iPhones and thumb drives that connect to large monitors mounted on the walls, said Alyssa Aalmo, a spokeswoman for the university. All of the walls and desks have writable surfaces.
“The concept is not completely new, but there are new nuances that allow you to do things you couldn’t do before,” Back said.
The desks are designed to lift up to make it easy to present to the class, Aalmo said.
In addition to the Classrooms Without Boundaries, there are 52 traditional classrooms on four floors.
Two-way teleconferencing makes it easy for students on other campuses or learning centers to be a part of the class, Aalmo said.
Equipped with life-like mannequins, the Nursing Lab gives students hands-on experience on equipment that is usually only found in hospitals, Aalmo said.
“It allows our students to learn high-stress tasks in a low-risk environment,” Aalmo said. “Our nursing lab is equipped with two high fidelity mannequins that cost around $30,000 each. These mannequins are operated by the instructor in a control room and have the ability to talk, blink, breath, secret fluid, go into cardiac arrest and other high pressure situations for our nurses in training to be able to react and learn in a safe environment.”
The lab also contains low fidelity mannequins that cost around $5,000 each, Aalmo said. While these are not controlled by a computer but help teach nursing students how to perform necessary procedures on patients in training style hospital setting.
The new campus also offers a new student advisement area with small, private rooms instead of cubicles. Frosted glass covers the windows so people walking by aren’t privy to personal information.
“Because of the sensitive information that is exchanged in these rooms, they’re also soundproof,” said Aalmo.
As part of the tour experience, potential and new students can view promotional materials in the lobby areas on touch screen monitors. Floor-to-ceiling screens in one hallway detail the background and educational experience of former students.
Many of the technological features throughout the building, including a large circular conference room, are controlled by code protected, built-in iPod Touches.
Offices of the executives also moved to the new campus, Aalmo said.
The University of Phoenix is a part of the Apollo Group and is the largest for-profit, private university in the country. The Sperling Center is named after the university’s founder, John Sperling. The new campus is within three miles from Arizona State University’s main Tempe campus.
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