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Creating a collaborative learning community in the CIS Sandbox

Mark Frydenberg (Department of Computer Information Systems, Bentley University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Article publication date: 12 April 2013




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of transforming a traditional university computer lab to create a collaborative learning community known as the CIS Sandbox, by remodeling a physical space and supporting it with a virtual presence through the use of social media tools. The discussion applies Selander's “designs for learning” to frame learning experiences in the CIS Sandbox.


To determine attitudes toward learning in such an environment, students who staffed and visited the physical space during its first semester completed a voluntary survey. The study investigated attitudes of visitors toward both classroom and extracurricular technology learning; participants also shared their views on the effect of creating a collaborative physical learning environment, and the extent to which they also made use of its online presence.


Providing both classroom assistance as well as a space for exploring technology, coupled with a focus on blogs and social media, creates interest in IT among students and contributes to student learning. It also creates an opportunity to foster entrepreneurship among student workers who manage these tools as part of the day‐to‐day operation of the facility.

Research limitations/implications

The study presents one implementation of a collaborative learning community formed in a renovated computer lab after a preliminary start‐up period and considers signs for learning based on its activities.

Practical implications

This study presents an innovative model for administering a computer lab, focused on new technologies and peer learning. This approach fosters a sense of entrepreneurship among student workers.


While many have studied learning space design and features for promoting collaborative learning, this study also describes a virtual presence that extends the lab's services by providing online resources.



Frydenberg, M. (2013), "Creating a collaborative learning community in the CIS Sandbox", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 49-62.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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