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So no one needs to clap the erasers at the end of the day?
If you are of a certain generation, you understand the reference above. If you aren’t, you may be scratching your head: Chalkboard erasers got dusty, and students would clap them together to clean them. The evolution of the classroom has come a long way, with chalkboards giving way to whiteboards, and pencils and paper to laptops.
But along with tools, the approach to learning is also evolving, according to Stacy Morrone, associate dean of learning technologies with the Office of the Vice President for IT. “The research is clear: A passive transmission mode—a lecture mode—is not as conducive to having students actively engaged in the classroom,” she says. Such research is at the heart of an experiment at IUPUI aimed at reconfiguring a classroom and a computer lab to encourage group work.
“This will be a trend throughout the university.”
“We have a lot of faculty members interested in engaging students in this way, but it is hard to do if the classroom doesn’t fit their needs,” she notes.
To address the issue, the Informatics and Communications Technologies Complex at IUPUI has transformed a classroom with furniture and technology that emphasizes the sharing of work. It began hosting classes in the fall 2010 semester. Professor Jacqueline Blackwell of the School of Education says she saw the classroom’s impact on her students immediately. “Students talked more than in our usual group discussion periods in our regular classroom,” she says. “At the same time, the collaborative technology offered our entire class the opportunity to see and reflect on each other’s work.”
IUPUI is not alone. IU Bloomington’s Indiana Memorial Union and the Kelley School of Business have similar spaces. “This will be a trend throughout the university,” notes David Donaldson, director of learning technology operations for University Information Technology Services, which assisted in the classroom makeover. “Every time a space is evaluated as to whether it needs new furniture, we’ll be looking for opportunities to innovate and to encourage collaboration.”
The cost of such re-invented rooms is higher than traditional classroom amenities. Donor support will be critical as IU transitions to more effective learning environments. After all, the experiment is about increasing student engagement and learning and how IU can best implement the advances to realize that goal.