The Initiative

In 2015, the faculty and staff of the Academic Development Centre (ADC) began envisioning what our new space in the Riddell Library and Learning Centre would be. In the spirit of innovation, we designated a portion of our allotted square footage for our new Centre to explore and research active learning.

The Riddell Library and Learning Centre opened its doors in Fall 2017, along with our newly constructed experimental Active Learning Classroom (ALC). In response to MRU's Academic Plan, the ADC launched the Active Learning Initiative in Winter 2018 with a small pilot of faculty development offerings and the opportunity for faculty to teach in the ALC. The Initiative moved from pilot to its first iteration in Fall 2018, with a second iteration launching in Winter 2019. Twice a year (May and November) the ADC puts out a call for an expression of interest to participate in the Initiative and teach in the ALC.

The primary goal of the initiative is to promote active learning pedagogies. In addition, we seek to investigate the effects of classroom design on teaching and learning practices that involve active learning pedagogies. The initiative is composed of a community of practice, workshops, consultations, and a research project on teaching in active learning environments. A secondary priority is to conduct research on the impact of learning spaces in teaching and learning practices. Interested faculty would either create their own SOTL project, or be part of a larger study led by the ADC.

In its current iteration the initiative has four streams of engagement:

  1. Faculty development: Offerings focused on active learning pedagogies for all learning spaces.
  2. Teaching in the ALC: Interested faculty will attend an introductory session about active learning and the active learning classroom, as well as contribute data to the ADC research project.
  3. Teaching in the ALC and Reflecting: In addition to the points listed in item 2, participating faculty will also take part in a monthly community of practice (CoP), which will help build a knowledge base for current and future users of the Active Learning Classroom.
  4. Teaching in the ALC, Reflecting, and Researching: In addition to the commitments of both items 2 and 3, participating faculty would also conduct a SOTL project on their teaching. The project would would solely conducted by the interested faculty member, or as a partnership in the larger ADC research project.

Note: Streams 2, 3, 4 are available only to faculty who have successfully completed the Call for Expression of Interest.

The Space

The ALC is an experimental teaching space designed to support teaching practices aligned with active learning principles.

The room is equipped with the following features and functions:

  • Students are arranged in six learning pods of six members each.
  • Each learning pod has a display screen, and students can connect laptops to the display.
  • A central podium allows the instructor to determine the content that is displayed on screens around the room.
  • An enhanced audio system with instructor lapel mic, and one microphone at each learning pod.
  • Ample white boards are placed around the room.
  • Built-in classroom video recording system to support faculty research projects and the ability to review classroom activities for reflective learning purposes.

Our Offerings

In response to the MRU Academic Plan, the ADC has launched an active learning initiative designed to support instructors who wish to enhance student engagement through active learning pedagogies. Join us for one (or all!) of the following events in our new innovative learning space at the Riddell Library and Learning Centre.

Exploring Active Learning

Description:

Active learning is an ever-present topic in teaching and learning. However, the question remains: How can we go beyond a surface approach to active learning? Exploring Active Learning is a four-session series where participants will explore active learning concepts, principles, and strategies. Participants will also have an opportunity to design an active learning activity/lesson to be implemented during the program.

**Registration is for the full series, so please be prepared to attend all four sessions.

Facilitated by Luciano Santos and John Cheeseman

Location: ALC (EL2463).

Participation cap: 18

Going Deep: Teaching in the ALC (Book Study/Sprint)

Description:

Have you decided to teach in the Active Learning Classroom, but are unsure on how to use the space in a purposeful way? Do you want to know more about strategies and techniques that can be used in this specialized learning space? In A Guide to Teaching in the Active Learning Classroom (2016), Paul Baepler and colleagues provide a thorough description of what instructors might expect when teaching in an active learning classroom. We will explore topics such as challenges and benefits, assignments and activities, classroom management, assessment and feedback, and supports for students and faculty.

**Registration is for the full series, so please be prepared to attend all four sessions.

Facilitated by Luciano Santos and John Cheeseman

Location: ALC (EL2463)

Registration cap: 12

Community of Practice for the Active Learning Classroom

Description:

Faculty currently teaching in the Active Learning Classroom are invited to join this community of practice. We will discuss the use of the ALC as a teaching and learning space. This group will contribute to a growing knowledge base for teaching in the ADC’s ALC, and will be a venue to connect with other instructors who are using this innovative learning space.

Facilitated by Luciano Santos and John Cheeseman

Location: FLL (EL2462)

Registration cap: 12

ALC Demonstration

Description:

The Active Learning Classroom (ALC) is a purpose-built classroom designed to adhere to principles of collaboration and active learning. Are you curious to experience this new learning space from a student’s perspective? Join us in this session, where we will introduce the ALC through an engaging activity. We will explore some of the benefits and challenges of this specialized classroom, and share information about the process for teaching in the space.

Facilitated by Luciano Santos and John Cheeseman

Location: ALC (EL2463)

Registration cap: 36

Contact

For more information about the Active Learning Initiative, please contact Luciano Santos, 403.440.5059, ldarosa@mtroyal.ca, or John Cheeseman, 403.440.6956, jcheeseman@mtroyal.ca.