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6 Secrets of Active Learning Classroom Design

July 9, 2015 | Telepresence Options

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Story and images by Dian Schaffhauser / Campus Technology

While the basic elements of active learning classrooms are well known, no one-size-fits-all template exists. Here's how to achieve the custom fit your school needs.

Like a jazz dance performance, active learning combines doing, movement and impromptu variety in a way that gets students and faculty up and out of their usual positions in the classroom. The room and its technology trappings become the stage and props for encouraging the unexpected to unfold.

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The goal of active learning is to create a space that can become the catalyst for change, noted Lennie Scott-Webber, director of education environments for Steelcase and former head of the Department of Interior Design & Fashion at Radford University (VA). "When you open the door to a space, does it give you permission to act differently other than to be behaviorally conditioned to 'sit and git' or 'stand and deliver'? If the space doesn't give permission to change, then it's too easy to revert back to what we know."

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Designing and outfitting a classroom for active learning doesn't have to be particularly complicated or excessively pricey. Still, the process you follow should be a unique choreography suited specifically to your campus's needs. CT asked experts from institutions across the country to share their top tips, tricks and pitfalls.

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