Active Learning Classrooms (ALC) in the cITy TECH Center. Whitescreen technology for interactive classes and group participation will be available.
OIT Technician testing whiteboards in one of the new ALCs
Research has shown that in order for students to fully understand and retain knowledge, it really helps for them to be active participants in the learning process. In contrast to regular classes, where teachers are in “talking mode” and students are in “listening mode,” active classrooms encourage movement in the classroom (with mobile, configurable furniture), nurture discussion and interdependent learning and create an interactive learning environment by incorporating visuals, group discussion, and technology, such as video and websites. “Students need to hear it, touch it, see it, talk it over, grapple with it, confront it, question it, experience it, and reflect on it in a structured format if learning is to have any meaning and permanence,” says Ronald Nash in his book The Active Classroom: Practical Strategies for Involving Students in the Learning Process.
We in OIT are well aware of the advantages of technology in the classroom and are constantly looking into new ways to bring it to you. We are very excited to announce that, in collaboration with DASNY and the Facilities office, we have built two new state-of-the-art Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) in the Tech Center. These brand new enhanced-technology classrooms house seven interactive smartboards, which students can connect to wirelessly, using provided laptops/tablets, which also have Via Connect Pro installed. Via Connect Pro connects wirelessly to the AV system and allows users to play video content and display material directly to the class from anywhere in the room. Via Connect Pro also enables faculty and students to annotate (using a finger or a stylus) on top of any displayed content – even video.
Setting up a test of 3 whiteboards in sync for a class in one of the new ALCs.
Associate Professor and Director of the CCNY First Year Writing program, Tom Peele, has been using computer technology in his teaching for the past 20 years and following the scholarship on the value of technology in a writing classroom for even longer. “When I first came here in 2014 I tried to get City College to have active classroom technology, but we didn’t have the money to do it,” he says. “So I was really excited when I heard we were bringing it in.” To encourage new collaborative teaching-learning paradigms, the rooms are also outfitted with Steelcase Node desks that roll on castors so that they can be configured effortlessly in multiple ways according to individual needs.” The student technology centers are very good, and it’s nice to have new equipment, but the problem still remained that the classrooms are set up in rows and instructors can’t see the students’ screens without walking around. In these new classrooms, active learning students can form physical groups of circles and triangles and everyone sees the work on the screen. Not only does the shared screen involve everyone, it has the added advantage of showing the instructor that the student is engaged and not just using the internet for their own non-classroom purposes.”
“Being able to see and show the work on the screen, just makes for more involvement. In lecture-based classrooms, students are just passive recipients. The new active learning classrooms allow students to share their work, do revisions, do the writing and project it on shared screens in groups. This also helps when they are collaborating on writing projects. It really enlivens the sense of audience because students can give feedback and respond to each other’s writing in writing. Face-to-face it is a conversation, but in writing people have to write, which is very useful in a writing class. And as an instructor, being able to share their screens allows me to oversee and evaluate their work as peer reviewers,” says Tom. And, perhaps providing extra impetus to work hard in class. “Being more visible makes the stakes higher for every student.”