New Campus Instructional Facility opens for fall semester


Photo Courtesy of the Illinois News Bureau

The new Campus Instructional Facility, also known as the CIF, stands tall at 1405 W Springfield Avenue in Urbana, Illinois. New classrooms and study areas promote small group engagement which students can thrive in.

By Alex Chang, Staff Writer

The Campus Instructional Facility opens for fall 2021 with a focus on flexible learning and active teaching compared to previous University lecture halls.

With five floors, 122,000 square feet and room for over 2,400 students across 23 classrooms, the CIF is the newest multi-college and multi-department building available for classes. Due to its focus on integrating technology into the classroom, it is also one of the most modern.

“With other buildings, you had all these issues … like projectors or blackboards or desks being not the greatest … but with CIF, there is all this new technology that really helps the teaching experience,” said Hyung Soo Lee, teacher’s assistant in CIF.

This technology falls in line with the main goal of CIF: to facilitate small group discussions and peer interaction instead of a single lecturer speaking down to students. Single lecture speaking has been found to be less effective and less engaging toward students, according to the USC Dornsife School of Teaching. 

Lectures have been completely revamped in the CIF with the introduction of in the round lecture halls. Instead of a layout with a lecturer in the front and students taking desks behind, in the round has a center podium with seating arranged in concentric circles, creating a more engaged and intimate feeling to large lectures.

However, lecture halls are not the only improvement that CIF has made to traditional learning spaces. CIF’s two-story tall Monumental Steps area is one of the largest in the entire building. The Monumental Steps area is an open study space designed to facilitate individual and group learning.

CIF also has many improvements in building efficiency, all in line with the University’s Climate Action Plan goal of having net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Planned to be certified as LEED Platinum (an international green-building certification), CIF is one of the most energy efficient buildings on campus.

“Geothermal heat systems and smart glass windows allows for much more efficient heating and cooling, which along with our other improvements should allow for around a 46-52% reduction in heating and cooling costs,” said Mohamed Attalla, executive director of Facilities and Services.

The University has been pushing for new classrooms and study areas that promote this kind of small group engagement, called Illinois Flexible Learning Experience spaces. The University is also working to transition existing spaces to the new IFLEX standard.

“IFLEX is this program that has been shown to increase student engagement, and it’s our goal as the University to increase these spaces either through updating existing ones or designing new spaces with IFLEX in mind,” Attalla said.

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