Learning Technology has a Reading Group that meets to discuss topics relevant to technology as it relates to teaching and learning. The most recent article read was Making the Case for Space: Three Years of Empirical Research on Learning Environments By Aimee L. Whiteside, D. Christopher Brooks, and J. D. Walker. Megan Troyer, Manager of the Learning Collaboration Studio (LCS), who also oversees OCIO projects related to instructor adoption of technology in the classroom led the discussion.
One of the findings was that “students attending classes in the University of Minnesota’s new, technology-enhanced learning spaces exceeded final grade expectations relative to their ACT scores, suggesting strongly that features of the spaces contributed to their learning.” (p. 1)
After reading this article, Megan said that she felt justified that the Office of the CIO invests in unique learning environments such as LCS, and for the new LearnLab in Baker Systems 285 that will be opening Spring Quarter. The article explained that the learning environment does affect students learning and their grades.
One point that generated discussion was this statement: “Instructors adapted their teaching techniques to the new learning spaces and frequently found themselves in the role of learning coach or facilitator.” (p. 1) Robert Griffiths reflected, “I think this is often a benefit we see with any intervention. It just happens that technology seems to be enough of a disrupter to a faculty member to rethink or restrategize how to teach a concept. I am sure representatives from UCAT would say changing teaching strategy, regardless of tech use would make a big difference.” Then Victoria Getis responded, “Right — any educational reform has good results for about 5 years, until the change becomes the new normal.”
Other positive data from the pilot study: “Students found the classrooms effective at promoting teamwork and collaboration. (and) Both students and instructors reacted well to the technological and physical features of the ALCs (Active Learning Classrooms), with the rooms’ round tables singled out for special praise.”
Megan commented that while students seem to readily adapt to the changes in the LCS, instructors, however, need help to use this kind of space. This fall, the wooden tables were removed from the LCS and replaced by light-weight roller chairs that have desktops large enough for a computer and small notebook. While reconfiguring the space was always an option, people were less likely to move the heavier wooden tables. Now, people using the space have been reconfigure more often. When they are done, it can be left just as it is. “It may give other people ideas about how to use the space,” Megan explained. She added that it works well for the LCS classroom size of about 30, but there was some speculation about whether or not that would work as well with larger groups of students.
Until recently, only standard classrooms and computer labs were available in the classroom pool. With the opening of Central Classrooms 311, the LCS (Learning Collaboration Studio) in the basement of the SEL, and the LearnLab in Baker 285 instructors now have more options available to suit the class materials. On March 11 at 1:30, John Myers from Loth will be giving a demo and answering questions about the LearnLab. Please register here: https://registration.it.ohio-state.edu/node/290
The LearnLab classroom space is configured for instructors to speak to students from anywhere in the room while students sit at tables designed to facilitate group work. Projectors are placed around the room so that one can see one from any place in the room. Huddle boards are 3×4 feet whiteboards that students can write on and scan in the room and then either project it the information or save it as a pdf or to an internet space. Huddle boards are provided for each table. The room is inherently configured for the instructor to be a “guide on the side.” There is no “front” of the room.