sustainable learning spaces

Sustainable Learning Spaces:
Design, Infrastructure, and Technology

Russell Carpenter, Eastern Kentucky University
Richard Selfe, The Ohio State University
Shawn Apostel, Bellarmine University
Kristi Apostel, Smarthinking

Section 1: Creating Sustainable Learning Spaces

Section 2: Flexibility, Sustainability, and the Design of Learning Spaces

Section 3: Environmental Sustainability and Learning Space Design


Author Biographies


Russell Carpenter is director of the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity and Program Director for the Minor in Applied Creative Thinking at Eastern Kentucky University where he is also Assistant Professor of English. Carpenter’s recent books include The Routledge Reader on Writing Centers and New Media. He serves as President of the Southeastern Writing Center Association and Past Chair of the National Association of Communication Centers.

Richard (Dickie) Selfe is the Director of the Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing and Writing Center Coordinator at Ohio State University. His scholarly interests lie at the intersection of communication pedagogies, programmatic curricula, and the social/institutional influences of digital systems. His most relevant book-length project is entitled Sustainable Communication Practices: Creating a Culture of Support for Technology-rich Education (2005).

Shawn Apostel is an Assistant Professor of Communication and Instructional Technology Specialist at Bellarmine University where he provides support to faculty and IT to facilitate online and classroom instruction that incorporates technology and teaches visual, multimedia, and technical communication. His research interests include teaching with technology, digital ethos, e-waste reduction, technical and visual communication. His work is published by IGI Global, CCDigital Press, Lexington Books, New Forums Press, Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, and Computers and Composition Online. He co-edited Online Credibility and Digital Ethos: Evaluating Computer-Mediated Communication and co-authored Teaching Creative Thinking: A New Pedagogy for the 21st Century.

Kristi Apostel is a Senior Lead Tutor for Smarthinking/Pearson where she tutors, trains, manages tutor teams, and designs training material. When she isn't tutoring and training, she's usually found in the kitchen, concocting a new recipe or baking with her two daughters. Her additional research interests pass between eWaste reduction, online learning and pedagogy, and technical communication. While a poet at heart, her published works include the Instructor’s Manual to accompany The DK Handbook and “Old World Successes and New World Challenges: Reducing the Computer Waste Stream in America,” co-authored with Shawn Apostel, in Technological Ecologies and Sustainability: Methods, Modes, and Assessment.


Andrew Burgess is a doctoral candidate in Rhetoric and Composition at Florida State University, where he has taught courses in first-year composition, documentary video composition, and writing and editing for print and online. Andrew has also tutored students in FSU's Reading-Writing Center and Digital Studio. He received an MA in Media and Communications Studies with an emphasis in documentary video production from FSU in 2012, for which he spent a year traveling the American South with a video camera and a boom microphone in search of the ghosts of the Civil War. His current research projects center on protest music, social movements, and aurality in multimodal composition.

Rebecca Burnett is a Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication. She received her BA from the University of Massachusetts, her M.Ed. Curriculum in Administration from the University of Massachusetts, and her MA and PhD from Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to joining LCC, she was a Professor Rhetoric & Professional Communication in the Department of English at Iowa State University. Her areas of interest include professional and technical communication; collaboration, groups, and teams; communication assessment; communication in the disciplines and professions; intercultural/international communication; and risk communication.

Joe Cirio is a doctoral student in Rhetoric and Composition at Florida State University where he teaches courses in first-year composition and peer-tutoring. He also tutors for FSU’s Reading-Writing Center and Digital Studio. Joe is a co-organizer of FSU’s 21st Century Literacy Lecture Series, a biannual event that celebrates the digital work of graduate students across FSU’s campus. His research interests center around writing assessment, particularly the technologies and practices of shared evaluation methods.

Kathryn M. Crowe is Associate Dean for Public Services at the University Libraries at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has overall responsibility for developing and planning services for Research, Outreach and Instruction, Access Services, the Digital Media Commons and the Schiffman  Music Library. She also coordinates assessment for the Libraries. Kathryn publishes and presents internationally, nationally and regionally on library assessment, information literacy, learning spaces  and academic library services. She is has chaired committees in the American Library Association and the North Carolina Library Association. She is an editor for the Journal of Learning Spaces. Kathryn has a BA in History from Randolph-Macon College, the MLS from Indiana University and the MA in History from the University of Georgia.

Kimberly M. Cuny holds a faculty appointment with UNC Greensboro's Communication Studies Department and has served as the director of The University Speaking Center for the past 11 years. Kim is currently serving as Co-Director of UNCG's Multiliteracy Centers program. She earned the National Communication Association’s Beth VonTill Communication Centers Newcomer Award and Linda Hobgood Distinguished Service to Communication Centers Award, the National Association of Communication Centers’ Joyce G. Ferguson Research Award, and Teaching Excellence for her part time classroom work at Guilford Technical Community College.

Over the last 20 years, Kim has published and presented numerous pedagogical innovations, chapters, and articles. Kim's recent publications include an article on unconditional positive regard, empathetic listening, and the impact of digital text driven communication in the International Journal of Listening and a coauthored chapter on supporting marginalized voices in building sustained community movements in Teaching Communication Activism: Communication Education for Social Justice.  Kim’s pedagogical and creative interests include radical pedagogy, experiential learning, speaking center studies, and use of storytelling, along with process drama, to help young children make sense of the world around them. On her first day of kindergarten, Kim told her classmates the story of Chicken Little, and she has been telling stories to children ever since.

Jason Custer is a doctoral student in Rhetoric and Composition at Florida State University. Jason’s ongoing research interests focus on how videogames and Rhetoric and Composition inform one another through the lenses of procedural rhetoric, new literacy practices, and new media scholarship to develop what he calls "videogame-infused pedagogy." He held the administrator position for the FSU Digital Studio for two year-long appointments, and continues to be involved with the FSU Reading and Writing Center space as both a tutor and an instructor for peer tutoring courses. His dissertation research will examine assessment and training methodologies in multiliteracy centers like FSU's Digital Studio to produce a framework for building and sustaining similar spaces.

Dana Gierdowski is the Senior Program Coordinator for the Writing Excellence Initiative at Elon University, where she manages projects for the Writing Center and Writing Across the University programs. Prior to this position, she served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Composition and Rhetoric at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In her scholarly work she explores how innovative, technology-rich learning spaces impact student writers and instructors. She earned her PhD in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media from North Carolina State University, where she managed the design and research of the First-Year Writing program’s pilot flexible classroom. She has authored the book chapter “Studying Learning Spaces: A Review of Selected Empirical Studies” in the edited collection Cases on Higher Education Spaces (IGI Global, 2012) and is co-author with Susan Miller-Cochran of the article “Making Peace with the Rising Costs of Writing Technologies: Flexible Classroom Design as a Sustainable Solution” in the March 2013 issue of Computers and Composition.

Rebecca Gould is Director of the Information Technology Assistance Center and Professor in Hospitality Management and Dietetics at Kansas State University. In her role in IT user services, she oversees areas ranging from the IT Help Desk to planning and design for innovative university spaces (classrooms, conference rooms, studios, etc). Over the last 13 years, she and her staff have collaborated with the campus community on the transformation of more than 80 classroom environments to incorporate technology. One of the proudest accomplishments for her team is the overhaul of Umberger 105. Every renovation and new build provides an opportunity to refine the process for evolving technology spaces on campus.
Karen Head is the Director of the Communication Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and an Assistant Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication. Since 2006, she has been a Visiting Scholar at Technische Universität-Dortmund, Germany, where she serves as the primary consultant for their academic tutoring center, provides pedagogical workshops, and offers communication-focused lectures for students. Her research areas focus on writing and communication theory and pedagogical practice, especially in the following areas: implementation and development of multiliteracy/multimodal tutoring centers, writing program administration, sustainable educational practices, communication ecologies, technical communication, business communication, multidisciplinary communication, and creative writing. In 2012-13, she was part of the GT team awarded a Gates Foundation Grant to develop one of the first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) focused on college writing, and she have published several articles and book chapters related to her experience and research about innovation in higher education. She has also published four books of poetry and exhibited several acclaimed digital poetry projects. An award winning teacher, her courses center on analyzing, critiquing, evaluating, and creating a variety of texts that demonstrate an understanding of audience and adaptation of multiliteracy/multimodal rhetorical strategies and tools. In 2013, she won the Georgia Institute of Technology s CETL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Award. She has twice served on the Board of the Southeastern Writing Center Association, and in 2015 she was named the editor of Southern Discourse in the Center: A Journal of Multiliteracy and Innovation.
Aimee Jones is a doctoral candidate in Rhetoric and Composition at Florida State University, where she has taught First-Year Composition, Peer-Tutoring in the Reading and Writing Center, and Rhetoric. Aimee has served as the Assistant Director of the Reading and Writing Center at FSU and has tutored in the Reading and Writing Center as well. Aimee has also taught English in Japan and China. Her research interests include multicultural/multilingual literacies and writing center studies.

Marita Kunkel is the University Librarian at Pacific University. She advocated for the creation of Pacific’s first Director of Educational Technology and Curricular Innovation and for the establishment of that office within the Libraries. She has experience in library redesign and repurposing, developed at Pacific and at a previous university library, as well as through the American Library Association’s division subcommittee, Buildings for College and University Libraries. She is active in the 37-member academic library consortium, the Orbis Cascade Alliance and formerly served on its executive board.  She also serves on the Provost’s Council, the chief advisory committee for academic affairs at Pacific.  Marita’s goals are focused on developing library services, staff, and spaces that promote a rich learning environment to support student success.  She is currently working on an Open Educational Resource initiative. Related to this initiative, Pacific University Libraries has just launched a new University Press, of which Marita serves as Press Director.

Rory Lee is an Assistant Professor in Rhetoric and Composition at Ball State University, where he teaches courses that explore the intersections of rhetoric, technology, and culture.  His research interests include digital rhetorics and multimodality, the undergraduate major program in writing and rhetoric, multiliteracy centers and digital studios, and composition pedagogy.  Rory earned his M.A. and his Ph.D. from Florida State University’s Rhetoric and Composition program.

Sara Littlejohn is directing Ashby College at UNCG after directing the Writing Center at University of North Carolina Greensboro for seven years. In addition to teaching courses in rhetoric, food theory, the graphic novel and digital publishing, her research interests include digital language and literacy, rhetoric, terrestrial and online writing center theory, and composition theory.

Stephen J. McElroy is the Director of the Reading-Writing Center and Digital Studio at Florida State University. His work includes research on digital composing, writing support networks, and the intersections of assemblage theory and composition. He is a co-founder of the FSU Card Archive, which is a physical and digital archive of over 2500 postcards that serves as a site of research into various areas: visual rhetoric, material productions of everyday writing, social politics and representation. His collaboratively authored article about the archive won the 2013 Computers and Composition Michelle Kendrick Outstanding Digital Production/Scholarship Award.

Owen McGrath is an Associate Director of Educational Technology Services at the University of California, Berkeley.  His areas of responsibility include planning, design, and support for AV technology in teaching and learning spaces on campus.  Across his career in educational technology, he has led development and implementation efforts for multimedia courseware, collaboration tools, and community source software such as Sakai.  Previously, he was also a research consultant at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  

Josh Mehler is a Lecturer in the Writing Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara and an Assistant Editor for Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy. He teaches classes in writing, rhetoric, and multimodal composition. His current research explores how portable technologies have historically played a formative role in the development of everyday writing communities. He received his Ph.D. from Florida State University's Rhetoric and Composition program.

Jeff Naftzinger is a doctoral student in Rhetoric and Composition at Florida State University where he teaches courses in first-year composition. He has tutored in the Reading-Writing Center and has served as the Assistant Director of the Digital Studio. His current research interests center around everyday writing, technology, and multimodal composing.

Amy Patterson is an instructor in communication and composition at Moraine Park Technical College (Wisconsin), where she also serves as the International Education coordinator. She teaches courses in writing, reading, and interpersonal communication. Amy is active with the Community College Sustainable Development Network to create study abroad opportunities for two-year college students. As part of these efforts, she developed a service-learning course on ecocomposition through her work with the Blue Mountain Project in rural Jamaica. She recently wrote for and received a Generation Study Abroad grant for Moraine Park to provide scholarships to students who would otherwise be unable to study abroad. Amy is an advisory board member with the Two-Year College English Association—Midwest, where she received the Outstanding New Faculty award in 2013.

Alfred Weiss is the Founding Director of the Center for Educational Technology and Curricular Innovation at Pacific University where he supports and leads initiatives to integrate digital technology into teaching and learning. Al has been engaged in teaching with technology since 1992 when he used a simple spreadsheet program to help teach math and science skills to seventh and eighth graders. Since then, he has used technology in a number of different classrooms and settings, including an elementary school in Hawaii, a junior high school in Japan, and when teaching a variety of graduate and undergraduate classes. Most recently, he coordinated the instructional development and faculty support programs for campus-wide e-learning platforms at the University of Illinois. Al has given numerous workshops and presentations at regional and national conferences on e-learning and has published articles on virtual learning environments, gaming, and e-learning methods.

Jennifer Wells, the Director of Writing, is developing New College of Florida’s new Writing Program, which includes Writing Studies Courses, Writing Enhanced Courses, the Writing Resource Center, and the NCF Pilot Study of Writing. Prior to coming to NCF, Dr. Wells was the Director of Florida State University’s Reading Writing Centers and Digital Studio, a multi-site center that provides 9,000 hours of tutoring annually. While at FSU, Dr. Wells was also recognized for her teaching when she was awarded a 2013 University Undergraduate Teaching Award. From 2005-2011, while completing her Ph.D., Dr. Wells was the Reading and Writing Specialist at Mercy High School Burlingame, where she created their Reading and Writing Center. Her co-edited book, The Successful High School Writing Center: Building the Best Program with Your Students, was published by Teachers College Press in 2011. During that time, Dr. Wells also won the Paul and Kate Farmer English Journal Writing Award for her 2008 article, “It Sounds Like Me: Using Creative Nonfiction to Teach College Admissions Essays.” Dr. Wells’ primary research area is knowledge transfer, or how students can take what they learn in one context and apply it, successfully or unsuccessfully, in a new context. Her research has also focused on the role writing centers play in preparing students and peer tutors for college and for their later careers.

Justin Young is faculty in the English department at Eastern Washington University, where he directs the English Composition Program and Writers’ Center. Justin’s research focuses on writing center theory practice, the transition to college, and reading and writing instruction across the P-16 continuum. Dr. Young has taught writing and directed writing centers across the country, including in New York City, Oklahoma, and California. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma, and a M.A. from the City College of New York (CUNY).

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