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Active Learning Classroom Active Learning Classroom, Loyola Campus (CC 101). | Photo by Concordia University

Advances in educational research and neuroscience are helping us to better understand how learning works and ways in which a university experience for today's students can become even better. Supporting more active and collaborative approaches to teaching and learning is a key finding of these discoveries. Active learning promotes greater student engagement and higher order thinking by encouraging students to work together to become the main contributors to all discovery and knowledge building processes in class and online.

To help ensure that these strategies are collaborative and lead to the shared creation of knowledge by all learners together in groups, teams or peer-to peer the activities must be intentionally designed, implemented and facilitated by the course instructor. The formal learning space, what is commonly referred to as the Active Learning Classroom or ALC is a key ingredient because it provides a flexible space and optimal conditions for this form of teaching and learning to take place. Here are a few examples to illustrate what active and collaborative learning techniques might look like in the classroom.

Did you know that Concordia University has active learning classrooms located on both campuses?

The Centre for Teaching and Learning offers FB 620 and at the Loyola Campus the CC 101 classroom is now available for use. These classrooms have been uniquely designed to allow a more convenient way for students to collaborate. And because the furniture is mobile the classroom can be arranged in a number of ways so you can have a different layout whatever activity you’ve got planned for your students. It’s an ideal space if you’re planning to lecture, do group work and active learning all together in a single classroom location. Another special feature of these active learning classrooms is the technology. Setting up the collaborative screen sharing is a snap. Students can display and share their work together in groups or with the rest of the class using a simple wireless video projection system.

Here’s what faculty have to say about their experiences teaching in the FB 620 and CC 101 active learning classrooms.

“The light, airy and flexible nature of this space makes it ideal for creative visioning, small group work or full class activities.”
Professor Ted Little, Theatre (INTE 298 U1x - The First Year Experience).

“After having used the active learning classroom, it is really hard to go back to a more traditional classroom environment. The active learning classroom is the ideal place for in-class meetings in the context of a hybrid course. The room provides a real opportunity to create a learning community; meetings held in the room are the perfect extension to meaningful online activities.”
Professor Isabelle Dostaler, Management, JMSB

“I found that the active classroom allowed students to have an enriched educational experience whereby they can learn problem solving techniques by trying them on the white board in small groups (of typically two students) for each board. In engineering it is essential for students to get hands-on experience in problem solving, which is typically only possible in homework assignments. The new classroom makes it also possible to get this experience in class with the guidance of the instructor of the course. I find that this is the biggest advantage of using this classroom.”
Professor Luis Rodrigues, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ELEC482: System Optimization/ENCS6181: Optimization Techniques)

“Two projectors means students sitting in any direction can see the screen. This was, in my opinion, the best attribute in the space. Once set up the computer and projector system worked very well. Students used the whiteboards when prompted to for brainstorming and other small group activities. The shades on the windows reduced glare and made seeing the presentation slides easier for the students. The ability to move the computer dock station was useful.”
Professor Steven Henle, Department of Applied Human Sciences

Active Learning Classroom FB 620 - Centre for Teaching and Learning

Active Learning Classroom (CC 101) - Loyola Campus

If you are you interested in using either of these classrooms please email, Centre for Teaching and Learning by June 15, 2017. For more information or if you would  like to schedule a visit and active learning information session please contact, Program Coordinator and Instructional Developer, Centre for Teaching and Learning.

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