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

This site is meant to provide information, advice, examples of best practices, and inspiration to those using or thinking about using the exciting and challenging learning environments known as "Active Learning Classrooms" (ALCs). While it is based on and geared towards the ALCs at the University of Minnesota, we hope it will serve others as well.

ALCs at the U of M

The new active learning classrooms (ALCs), many of them located in the Science Teaching and Student Services (STSS) building, offer a unique teaching and learning environment. There are a number of positives of working in these ALCs, including increased learning gains and students reporting high satisfaction with the learning environment. However, these spaces can present a number of teaching challenges, including: a room with no front or focal point; noise and other distractions that may impact individuals with certain learning disabilities; and a need for mastery of the technology.

The CTL has partnered with OIT Educational Technology Services and the Office of Classroom Management (OCM) to create tools for faculty and instructors teaching in these active learning spaces. This poster will be hung in each ALC encouraging teachers to send an email request to alcteach@umn.edu.

Resources for teaching in an ALC poster (pdf)


What Is an Active Learning Classroom (ALC)?

ALC is the term often used to describe the student-centered, technology-rich, learning environments at the University of Minnesota. U of M ALC's feature large round tables with places for nine students. Each table supports three laptops, with switching technology that connects them to a fixed flat-panel display projection system, and three microphones. There is a centered teaching station which allows the instructor to select and display table-specific information. Multiple white boards or glass-surface marker boards are distributed around the perimeter of the classrooms

A typical ALC in the Science Teaching and Student Services Building (STSS):

Science Teaching and Student Services room picture

Why teach in an ALC?

There are a number of reasons for choosing to teach in this environment. Used effectively, the benefits include increases in normalized learning gains for students of all ability levels and higher student satisfaction with the learning environment.

ALC environments can, however, present a number of teaching challenges including:

  • a space with no front or focal point;
  • noise and other distractions that may impact individuals with certain learning disabilities; and
  • mastery of the technology.

In addition, teaching in an ALC is likely to require an investment of time, effort, and perhaps a major shift in the way one thinks about teaching and learning.

ALC Resources

For tips on how to confront common teaching challenges related to the ALCs, see Considerations for Teaching in Active Learning Classrooms.

To read more about active learning classrooms, visit the Office of Classroom Management's Active Learning Classrooms Overview.

To see one of Minnesota's ALCs in action, view this Foundations of Biology Class Video.

Contact us 

If you have questions about teaching in Active Learning Classrooms or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact any of the following units:

The Center for Teaching and Learning

OIT's Educational Technology Services

University Libraries


 
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