University Business May 2018 - 40

TECHNOLOGY

WORLD OF ACTIVE LEARNING

manager of strategic customer experience,
education for avt.tech, a technology distributor in Australia and New Zealand.
"Before you had to have custom rooms
and they would have to have a large
amount of AV equipment in them. By
moving to this portable model, all you
need today is power and data."
In the meantime, the University of
Leeds developed what is considered the
least common type of active learning classroom-the collaborative lecture theater.
In 2016, officials reconfigured three new
lecture halls by adding "pods" with small
tables on tiered levels, where students
work on group projects.
Students using laptops display work
on a screen at the front of the room. They
can also record presentations on a lecture
capture system, from Sonic Foundry's
Mediasite.
"The ultimate goal is to try to encourage faculty to change their pedagogical
approach and to stop giving didactic
lectures," Morris says, adding that college administrators from across Europe
have visited the halls. "Most universities
are finally realizing lectures create a passive experience, so they're looking to engage their students with more active ways
of learning."
Getting informal in active learning
In Hong Kong, universities have undergone steady expansion since 2012, when
the government decided to lengthen the
undergraduate curriculum for all schools
from three to four years. The University of
Hong Kong responded to that change by
building its Centennial Campus, which
includes three new buildings and Chi
Wah Learning Commons.
Of the 70 lecture halls and classrooms
on campus, 15 were created as active
learning spaces. But students also collaborate at the learning commons, a nearly
20,000-square-foot building located at
MORE ONLINE

Active learning experts on the value
of keeping up with trends worldwide
UBmag.me/worldwide
40 | May 2018

ENRICHING EXPERIENCES-McGill University's Teaching and Learning Spaces
Working Group designed these spaces on the Montreal campus to support wholeclass, group and one-on-one interaction.

the center of the campus.
"Space in Hong Kong is very limited,
and often families are living in very, very
small accommodations," said Toni Kelly,
associate director learning environments at
the university. "So students living at home
don't have access to quiet spaces to study."
At the learning commons, students
can work on group projects in a variety of
spaces, including 25 study rooms or the
clusters of tables in open areas. The facility also offers an advisory zone, where
teachers and staff assist students using
technology.
In his comparative study, Augeri found
that learning commons have some common features: They provide spaces for
both individual and group work, and they
have zones that divide the centers into
smaller areas offering services such as technological assistance.
"The learning commons is something
that's very fitting with the new lifestyle
of the students," Augeri says. "Instead of
going back home or to the coffee shop,
they stay in such a space where they have
access to a wide range of services and
facilities."
At the University of Gothenburg in
Sweden, the library's learning commons is
a popular gathering spot because the school
does not offer dormitories and students

typically live in private apartments in the
city. "When students want to meet and
discuss their projects, they have no place
to go," says Maria Sunnerstam, an educational developer at the university.
Gothenburg students don't have much
contact with professors who teach large
lecture classes. But librarians in the learning commons can help them with their
projects. "For students, they are the primary contact at this university," Sunnerstam says. "So librarians have a very important role."
Considering low-tech classrooms
Many universities are creating low-tech
environments to reduce costs and increase
the supply of collaborative learning spaces.
"What is cutting-edge now is bringing
what we know works in these active learning classrooms to everyone," says Adam
Finkelstein, academic associate and educational developer at McGill University in
Montreal. "One of the problems with active learning classrooms is, 'OK, we've got
two but what about the other 300 classrooms on campus?' "
Making simple changes to a classroom
can have a big impact on learning.
A study conducted in 2017 by researchers at Bethel University in St. Paul,
Minnesota, found that high-tech and lowwww.universitybusiness.com


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