Page 22 - Campus Technology, May/June 2018
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that the spaces allowed for “flexible approaches.”
“This was the first time these students had experienced an active learning classroom,” observed Round, “so we felt
these were good numbers.”
8) Avoid the Cookie Cutter
The new spaces were successful enough that when it came time to refresh a traditional computer lab whose furniture was showing its age, faculty proposed the active learning approach. After all, they pointed out, the classes relying on that lab — computer science, business, economics, statistics — were already doing active learning with their labs and team projects.
Selling the administration on the new approach was easy because of the groundwork already laid. “We could either do this with a forward-looking perspective or we could replace it
just as it was,” said Round. In this case, she noted, “The active learning lab really became the institutional vote of confidence.” However, some aspects of the active learning model wouldn’t fit. For example, in the other active learning classrooms, seats and tables can be apart or grouped together. For a computer lab, however, in order to accommodate power needs without having cords running across the floor, the pods really needed to work at a single table. Plus, instead of using individual monitors at each station, the computer lab pods were outfitted with laptops — six at each of five tables with the ability to expand to seven
students in each pod.
Also, an initial proposal to put the instructor station in the
middle of the room in a “hub and spoke” design was nixed by faculty. They wanted to be closer to the main display in order to point out things on the screen. Round’s suggestion that they simply use annotation tools, which would enable them to stay in the middle of the group, fell flat.
Likewise, to avoid the problem of having a faculty member hidden behind rows of individual monitors, Round suggested an instructor table that sat a bit higher than the standard desk height. That idea got a thumbs-up.
9) Give Faculty Time for Familiarity
The new lab was scheduled to open in January 2018, following a fast-paced installation over the holiday break.
Timing posed a problem: how to help instructors who would be teaching in the new space visualize it before they returned. To overcome the challenges, months earlier IT&D began communicating with faculty for input on furniture and ques- tions such as what size individual computer screens needed to be. By the time instructors were leaving for the break in December, they knew they’d be coming back to a lab that was “going to be completely different,” Round said. As a result of continual communication on the progress of the project, most came back a week before classes started in
order to try out the new room.
10) Go Ahead, Show Off
Now faculty seek out access to the active learning spaces, Round said. But really, she emphasized, the classrooms are just “one tool in the toolbox.”
“Saint Anselm College has amazing professors. Many are dynamic on their feet, and the lecture space is the perfect environment to learn from them,” she added. The addition of the new classrooms “doesn’t mean that all of our spaces should now become active learning spaces. What we’re doing is contributing to a taxonomy of pedagogical approaches.”
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for Campus Technology.
Saint Anselm College’s $12,000 active learning classroom prototype used the following furniture and equipment:
Borrowed furniture to form the pods (later replaced by Computer Comforts Ethos chairs)
Sony flat panel TVs Apple TVs
Apple iPads
Cabling and a manual switch, with inputs from each of the five TVs at the instructor’s TV

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