You are invited to attend a presentation by:
Robert J. Beichner, Ph.D., North Carolina State University
Thursday, January 31, 1:00 – 2:30 PM, Cremona 102, Seattle Pacific University
How do you promote active learning in a large classroom? Can students practice communication and teamwork skills in a large class? How do you boost the performance of underrepresented groups? Join us as we learn from Dr. Beichner, member of North Carolina State University’s Physics Education R & D Group, and his work on The Student-Centered Active Learning Environment with Upside-down Pedagogies (SCALE-UP) Project. Materials developed by the project are now in use by more than 1/3 of all science, math, and engineering majors nationwide. Physics, chemistry, math, biology, engineering, business, nursing, and even literature classes are being taught this way at more than 150 institutions nationwide. To learn more about Dr. Beichner and the SCALE-UP Project, visit http://go.ncsu.edu/beichner
Space Matters: The Impact of Active Learning Classrooms
Interactive Lecture wit D. Christopher Brooks, Ph.D.
Tuesday, December 11, Noon – 1:30 PM Cremona 101, Seattle Pacific University
D. Christopher Brooks is a Research Fellow in Educational Technology Services at the University of Minnesota. He earned his doctorate in Political Science with a minor in Russian and East European Studies from Indiana University. He taught Comparative Politics and Political Theory at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, St. Olaf College, and the University of Minnesota-Morris before coming to the University of Minnesota where he now conducts empirical research on the impact of educational technologies on teaching practices and learning outcomes. Since 2008, he has served as co-PI on the University of Minnesota’s Active Learning Classroom (ALC) Research Project delivering nine conference presentations, presenting five posters, and publishing nine peer-reviewed articles on the subject. His research appears in a number of publications including the Journal of Learning Spaces, the British Journal of Educational Technology, the Journal of Faculty Development, The American Biology Teacher, EDUCAUSE Quarterly, the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Evolution, the Journal of Political Science Education, and Social Science Quarterly. He is co-editor of a forthcoming (2014) volume of New Directions for Teaching and Learning that features research projects on learning spaces.
This video shares professor and student comments about a new learning spaces classroom at Seattle Pacific University.
Student Thoughts on Active Learning Space
I am teaching an educational technology course in SPU’s new active learning space classroom.* The course is taught in a blended format so we will spend about 30% of the instructional time face-to-face in this classroom. That works out to be three three-hour sessions. In our first face-to-face class meeting I asked “What do you think of this classroom?” Here is a quick summary of their responses. (Keep in mind that most of these students are K-12 teachers.)
- Ability to write on any wall
- Easy to reconfigure furniture
- Adult sized chairs
- Digital clock
- Spacious room for 20+ students
- Students placed in a position where they have to interact with each other
- Can show an individual table’s display to all other tables
- Erasers and markers for all tables.
- Placement of displays, not easy to watch screen and instructor at same time
- Can’t post student work on the walls
- Can’t write in other classrooms
- Chairs are not kid friendly
- High maintenance walls
- Spacing of tables – need more separation between groups
- Instructor’s display in the way – Need it to lay at an angle where it does not block line of sight
- Where to look – Students don’t know where to focus their attention
- Lack of central power for laptops. Have to use power strip connected to wall
- Temperature and air noise in the room
These are insightful comments after only three hours of use. But then again, they are teachers. They dream about the ideal classroom all the time. Cremona 101 is not it… at least not yet.
What are your thoughts? Do you have ideas of how we can improve this classroom or version 2.0 in another learning space?
* You may need to install or update Silverlight if you are unable to view the link above that takes you to a panoramic view of the classroom.
I am working with others at Seattle Pacific University on an Active Learning classroom project similar to the one at the University of Minnesota. Click on the image above to see a Photosynth of what the classroom looked like on August 9, 2011. The floor plan is shown below. Click on it to see an enlarged view.
In this classroom, students will collaborate around rounded tables (called pods) as the professor moves throughout the room. Each pod will have its own LCD display on a nearby wall where a group member can connect his laptop for use during collaboration. The professor’s podium workstation will be in the center of the room, allowing her to be roughly equidistant from all pods in the classroom. The professor has the ability to control what each group is seeing on their pod’s LCD display. She can share a presentation from her computer, or let each group control their own display. The professor can also share one group’s display with the entire class. Eventually, all of this will be controlled from an iPad app so that the professor does not have to return to the center of the room to change the input. The app being considered is not expected to be ready when school starts.
The furniture is portable. Each of the six tables can be split into three sections and rearranged for lectures or student presentations.
There is still a lot of work to do. Classes start at the end of September. Here are some of the questions I have. I would appreciate any feedback or additional questions:
- Are there too many tables in the classroom? Right now, there are six tables, each which can seat 9 students. Is there enough space between tables for the instructor to move around? For a wheel chair? Enough space to limit the amount of carry-over noise between tables?
- The Photosynth image shows one of the LCD displays on the same wall as the projector screen. Will that be distracting to students? Will all students at this pod be able to see their display?
- Is the display placement correct? Are they too high for comfortable pod viewing? Are they too low and therefore taking up valuable whiteboard space.
- Is there enough room for instructors to walk all the way around each pod to help individual students?
- Are the tables large enough for nine students to fit comfortably around them with all of their stuff? Would it make more sense to limit tables to seven students? This might make it possible to create a dead side on each table, allowing tables to be closer to the walls, thereby generating more space between pods.
- The Photosynth image shows one wall with whiteboard paint. I like the idea of having the room covered with whiteboard paint as it increases opportunities to visually share ideas. However, is the finish on the walls smooth enough for this to work effectively?
- The Photosynth image shows the long side of the podium as being parallel to the projector screen. On the floor plan, the long side of the podium is perpendicular to the projector screen. Is there enough room to move around if the podium is parallel? Will the podium be awkward to use if it is perpendicular?
Thanks for any ideas you share. It’s clear to me that our main priority now is to help faculty explore options for redesigning their courses to take advantage of this new learning environment. We need to know who is teaching in this classroom and get to work.
Recommended article on best practices with clickers.