Category Archives: Michelle Ho

Open House

Author: Michelle Ho, ENG’14

Recently I was given the opportunity to be the student speaker at the Collaborative Classroom Open House.  The Collaborative Classroom is a new classroom on the first floor of Van Pelt Library, off the hallway leading to Weigle Information Commons.  From the way the classroom furniture is arranged to the cutting-edge technology in the room, the design of the Collaborative Classroom aims to facilitate active learning.  In the classroom, active learning can take the form of problem solving in teams, peer reviewing written work, or delving into a case study, among other activities.  To help facilitate these activities, students sit at round tables and face each other, instead of in rows where they face the professor.  Each table has its own dedicated projector system where students can plug their own laptop or tablet and display what they are working on.  The walls on the classroom also double as whiteboards and projection screens so you can annotate directly over what you are projecting.  This semester there are nine courses such as social policy and practice, geology, and writing seminar being held in the Collaborative Classroom.  Imagine how much more interactive writing seminar could be if you edited a piece by projecting it on the wall and having classmates take turn making edits by writing over it for the table to see.

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So how did I get to become involved with this?  Well, the Collaborative Classroom is actually a joint project between the Penn Libraries and the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education (the branch of Penn Student Government that I am a member of).  The idea for the Collaborative Classroom came from two previous SCUE Chairs, Scott Dzialo and Joyce Greenbaum.  Together, they envisioned that having a space like the Collaborative Classroom on campus would allow for SCUE initiatives such as problem solving learning (PSL) and the flipped classroom to be possible.  Unlike previous SCUE projects like building Penn Course Review, instituting Fall Break, and implementing pass/fail grading, there were physical roadblocks – in terms of finding and configuring space – in addition to administrative and policy roadblocks.

After meeting with people across campus, the construction for the classroom was made possible by two Penn alumni, Larry Bass (W’67) and Chuck MacDonald (W’81).  As one of the founding members of SCUE, the Bass family embraced the idea of the Collaborative Classroom and saw it as a way to commit to SCUE and the Penn Libraries.  The MacDonald family matched this gift and also made possible an Innovation Fund to support the classroom.  The Open House was a way to thank the donors and also show off the classroom to faculty and students.  As Mr. Bass and his family were able to attend the Open House, it was a fantastic opportunity for SCUE members to meet one of the founding members of our organization and get a front-row perspective about the history of our organization.  The generosity and input of the Bass family has shown that participation in any extracurricular opportunity at Penn doesn’t have to end with graduation.  At SCUE in particular, we have been inspired to start an Alumni Newsletter and plan alumni get-togethers.  Moving forward, we are excited to collaborate with the Library and also faculty members to develop more courses for the Collaborative Classroom.  Of course, we are also looking forward to working more with our alumni!

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Filed under Academics, Alumni Programming, Campus Life, Michelle Ho, Student Perspective, Uncategorized


Author: Michelle Ho, ENG’14

SCUE (Student Committee on Undergraduate Education, the academic branch of student government) is excited to announce the launch of a new interdisciplinary learning platform – oPenned (pronounced “opened”). Think of it like a cross between the best of TEDx and open online learning platforms – oPenned condenses and curates the best of academic-related resources at Penn into one website. Prospective students, current students as well as alumni can go into the website and discover the intellectual gems Penn has to offer.

Discover through tutorials

oPenned offers an interdisciplinary look into different topics – from Food to Astronomy – through curated “tutorials”. As you click through each tutorial, expect to look at different material – from videos to articles – relating to the topic that is pulled from different schools and disciplines at Penn. For example, food is not a conventional topic nor a department at Penn, but professors, students and institutions at Penn have been doing in-depth research and investigation into this topic. You’ll be able to go into oPenned’s Food tutorial and look at it from a psychological, medical as well as historical perspective – all of which stems from Penn-related research and resources.

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Discover what’s currently on campus

Almost every day at Penn, a lecture or academic discussion of some sort is taking place on campus. oPenned includes a section called “Currently On Campus”, which pulls together videos of interesting speaker events or performing arts shows that have happened on campus. Take a look at the innovative discussions that have been taking place on campus, and be part of the journey of life-long learning.

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Penn has so, so much to offer, and every day exciting interdisciplinary research is done by Penn faculty and students, giving novel perspectives to longstanding topics such as Journalism and Human Evolution. This wealth of knowledge doesn’t just stop after graduation – and oPenned provides an easy way to connect back to academic discussions that are happening on Penn’s campus. SCUE hopes that oPenned will become a hub for intellectual community at Penn, and that students, faculty and alumni will be able to utilize it to engage with Penn continually.

Happy Exploring!

Check out SCUE’s website ( and follow us on Twitter (@PennSCUE) to stay up to date on the latest projects SCUE members are getting involved with to enhance the academic experience at Penn.

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Filed under Academics, Campus Life, Michelle Ho, Student Perspective, Uncategorized