Learning Link – September 15, 2017

Today’s post is supposed to provide you, my devoted readers, with links that you may find interesting or that may enhance your professional growth and/or learning in some way.  However, I’m feeling a bit rebellious today, and maybe a little stingy, so you only get one link today!

But it’s a great one! (At least, I think it is.)

The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article Does Redesigning Classrooms Make a Difference to Students? It is this article that I would like to draw your attention to as this topic has been on my mind for several years, and it is quite important to me.  First, though, a bit of history…

(imagine time warp music here)

Three years ago, Victoria College began our Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) which focused on Students Engaged in Active Learning in three key areas around campus.  One of those areas involved redesigning courses for active learning and critical thinking.  Our QEP budgeted stipends, salaries, and the creation of a teaching and learning center to achieve the goal of increasing student engagement and critical thinking through activity learning.

It wasn’t until the summer after our first SEAL Academy pilot that one of the participants, Sharon Hyak, brought a glaring omission to my attention – our classrooms are not conducive to active learning.

And she’s correct.  I have been a proponent of active learning for several years.  For a while, I tried to teach actively in “traditional” college classrooms, and then I stopped.  I started moving the tables and chairs whenever I could.  This is hard on the floors and the furniture as most aren’t designed to be mobile…as I’ve been told.

Luckily, Matt Wiley mentioned this dilemma to Amy Mundy who found a donor to create four active learning classrooms at VC!

If only it were that simple.  Apparently creating these rooms – even with funding – is not an easy matter.  There are issues with software and hardware compatibility, building restrictions, costs, and other items above my pay grade to consider.

So why did I feel the need/desire to share this with you today?  I really like the point this article makes about active learning not being for everyone – which is something I hear quite often.  I’m not advocating that all of our classrooms be converted to active learning classrooms or that all instructors should teach the same way in one of these rooms.  By the same token, I don’t think that it’s fair that instructors who would like to include more active learning techniques and strategies into their courses are hampered from doing so by room design.  We try to eliminate as many barriers as possible for our students, and I think we should strive to eliminate some barriers for our faculty as well.

What do you think about classroom designs?  Do they really matter?

{Featured Image source}


One comment

  1. I really like the active learning classroom physical order, but, when you share classrooms with other instructors, it is difficult to “do what you want.” I just wish the other instructors would erase the white board!


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