University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources
http://www.umn.edu/ohr
612-625-2016

Using Technology in Active Learning Classrooms

Many of our classrooms are now equipped with laptop connections and projectors. One of the features that makes the ALCs special is the ability to project not only from the instructor station, but also from any of three laptops at each table, to the whole room or to the table's dedicated monitor. Although we may not think of them as "technology," the abundance of whiteboards in the ALCs also offers additional teaching/learning opportunities. It takes some practice and planning to make good use of these features.

Instructors

  • Get familiar with the technology before your class begins meeting in the ALC. The Office of Classroom Management (OCM) web site provides instructions for the technology in each ALC. In addition, hands-on training is available.
  • Build in use of the technology and whiteboards as you plan your course and activities
  • Train the students to use the technology the first minute of class and make it an expectation that computers are hooked up for group work at the very beginning of class.

Possible Uses

  • Call on student groups to project the outcomes of their work—answers to questions, resources they have found, collaborative writing, etc.—to the whole room; this will increase student participation and engagement.
  • As you move around the room, talking with groups as they work, project particularly good work so that the whole class can see it. Or, if a group has encountered a specific problem that others are likely to encounter as well, project it so you (or they) can work through it with the class.
  • Project a graph related to current content on all the monitors, then call on a team or table to describe what it represents.
  • Ask teams to use the whiteboards to brainstorm a process before committing to it, to create a quick mind map, or to work though a math problem.
  • Computers or the whiteboards can be used to summarize discussions.

(Some material adapted from Bernadette Longo, U of MN Rhetoric and Faculty of the Biology Program, U of MN CBS.)