International Forum on Active Learning Classrooms (pre-conference, day 1)

The Swedish network Rum för lärande is currently hosting a pre-conference to the International Forum on Active Learning Classrooms. In total, I get to spend a full week thinking about rooms like FutureLab and planning the rebuild of FutureLab-Teorifagbygget. I’ll get to hold a short presentation about UiT’s active learning classrooms on Friday.

Today was the first day of the pre-conference. During the morning we got a tour of Bruininks Hall, which has tons of active learning classrooms. I thought it was a nice touch that the signs outside these rooms say “General Purpose Classroom”. This notifies teachers and students that these rooms should be the norm, and not something unusual.

An active learning classroom in Bruininks Hall

More pictures on Twitter @futurelabmv

Also during the morning, a bit of research was presented that said that learning from classmates has a negative impact on student learning. However, explaining material to your classmates positively affects your own learning. The study didn’t say why this might be the case, just that its findings indicate this. It seems like a bit of a paradox. My gut reaction was “that can’t be right”. If it is true, it might be because students can’t explain it as well as the teacher, possibly because they don’t have as deep an understanding of the material. I’d like to see more research done on this.

During the afternoon today we used one of the active learning classrooms to share experiences in groups about classrooms at our own universities. One of my favorite comments to come out of my group’s discussion was regarding teachers who don’t like to see their students backs while teaching in a group based classroom; if you really want to know if your students are paying attention, look at their screens, not their faces.

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