​​​​​​Taking the wraps off a new building on a CSU campus is always cause for celebration, and the recently completed Arts and Humanities Building at California State University, Chico is no exception.

When classes begin later this month, students will file into the sparkling $58 million building for the first time to pursue a rich array of studies, including music, theatre and fine arts.

The building boasts a new recording studio, ceramics and glass-blowing studios, a 2,400-square-foot rehearsal space, and a wood-finished recital hall that seats 200. There's even an art museum with thousands of pieces from the likes of Picasso, DalÍ and Rembrandt.

The most interesting thing about the new Arts and Humanities Building, however, might be the classrooms t​hemselves. Chico State wanted to dramatically improve the level of technology available to instructors and students, and it shows.


What Makes a Classroom "Smart"

Some of the technologies available in the new Arts and Humanities Building include:

  • Video projectors
  • Laptop connectivity
  • Touch screen monitors
  • Microphones and speakers
  • "Smart boards" that allow instructors to draw or make notes on a digital, interactive board

Several rooms are equipped, too, with screens that can be controlled via iPad.

"Smart" classrooms like these aren't new to Chico State, though. State-of-the-art technology can be found all over the campus: One classroom has three video projectors and an interactive whiteboard; others have microphones, are wired for optimized connectivity, or provide video-audio streaming of lectures.

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Smart Tech, Across the CSU

In fact, smart classrooms are found in all shapes and sizes throughout the California State University system.

But it's not just the tech that makes these rooms smart; the term also applies to architecture, seating arrangement and layout, as well as various types of construction materials; all contribute to the mission of enhancing student success.

Some campuses are equipped with Internet access at every student seat or workspace; a professor can then project what any student sees on his or her device, easily sharing it with the entire class.

Some rooms in the math and science department at California State University, Fresno are experimenting with reconfigurable tables that optimize use of the entire classroom space. This feature also helps students break into groups of any size at a moment's notice.

Other examples of innovative smart classrooms include:

  • Cal State East Bay's Lecture Capture system automatically films and uploads lectures straight to the Blackboard student portal at both the Hayward and Concord campuses.
  • Cal State Northridge, known for its influence in the entertainment industry, offers multiple smart classrooms with innovative technology, and several buildings boast extensive equipment in every single room.
  • Sacramento State has so many different levels of technology-equipped classrooms that they're broken down into four groups: Basic Technology, Intermediate Smart Technology, Advanced Smart Technology, and Collaborative Learning Spaces.

The California State University is committed to providing innovative solutions to encourage student success across all 23 of the system's campuses.

This pledge is especially reflected in the Flexible Learning Environments Exchange (FLEXspace), a partnership of the CSU with the State University of New York (SUNY) signed in 2014 to introduce more smart classrooms across the country's two largest public university systems. FLEXspace was recently named winner of the 2016 Campus Technology Innovators Award.

With more projects ahead and greater adoption of these new standards for learning, students at the California State University stand to gain a significant competitive advantage as they prepare to graduate and enter the workforce.