Active Learning Spaces (C5A 430, C5A 435, W2.4A 2.300 and E7B 163 at Macquarie) are student-centered classrooms, designed to facilitate and promote student participation and engagement. At Macquarie the spaces contain large, group-sized desks, each equipped with AV (moveable monitors and keyboard per table), which can be moved around the classroom as necessary. There is also a teaching station with a lectern and a large main touch screen.
According to research, Active Learning Spaces improve collaboration between students and teachers and the smaller class sizes and student-centered approach allow learning outcomes to be achieved with more efficiency. The existing spaces are part of a larger initiative at Macquarie, including the re-development of the Campus Hub and Courtyard area, to incorporate a broader and more flexible range of learning spaces to cater for the needs of both students and teachers.
Student feedback is largely positive in regards to the Active Learning Spaces already in use at Macquarie. Students comment that the rooms are bright and open, with space to move around, and both tutor and screens are easily visible. Students liked the pleasant aesthetic, and the large windows in the room that allow for lots of natural light.
“It’s easy to participate and make friends, I’m much more motivated to come to these classes”.
One of the biggest advantages of these spaces, according to students, is the ability to work collaboratively with each other and the tutor. Students enjoyed working in small groups, “there’s less pressure, I feel like I’ve got more time to get my head around ideas”, and liked that the individually controlled screens meant that all members of the group were involved, rather than squeezing around one laptop. Interestingly, students also noted as a positive aspect that having to display the results of their discussion on their respective screens made them more accountable, as the tutor and other students were easily able to observe everyone’s work. The layout of the room also allowed the tutor to easily move around and converse with the students, which gave them a sense of involvement and inclusion.
Leading the charge for the use of Active Learning Spaces is Professor Sherman Young and a new strategic initiative working group. The Space Academy (working title) is a peer-led group built in order to bring pedagogically-focused considerations and training to the forefront of the implementation and use of learning spaces within the university. They are collaborating on how best to employ all spaces, from traditional lecture halls to fully digitised tutorial rooms. Currently the Space Academy is working with AVTS to create pedagogical and technical outlines on how to use Active and Flexible Learning Spaces. They aim to develop best practice guidelines as well as formal training programs to make the most of the Active Learning Spaces.
For more information on or to get involved with Space Academy, please contact Tanya Rose.
For enquires about booking your unit into an Active Learning Space (enquires open now for Session 2 2018), contact Nataliya and Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For technical training on the use of equipment in the rooms, contact email@example.com.
Here’s a video Arts made about their experience using Active Learning Spaces (September 2016).
Anneliese Hoffman is a Bachelor of Arts (English) student currently doing a PACE internship with the Learning Innovation Hub.