Active Learning Spaces Conference

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I attended the UMN Active Learning Spaces Conference, which was a fantastic gathering of learning spaces designers, faculty, learning technologists and support staff. You can find the resources on the conference website, at: z.umn.edu/alcforum

Here are some take-aways/examples from the sessions:

  • Clickrs are best for large lectures or questions that might reveal personal information/ controversial
  • Consider assigning roles for small group discussions: proponent, recorder, skeptic discuss the concept; faculty then rolls dice and the two numbers represent the tables and the proponent from one and the skeptic have to discuss to the whole class
  • envelope with 13 photos, organize into different groups based on your own choosing, name each group; this leads into a discussion on taxonomy
  • Whiteboards: discuss expectations about the course, discuss pro/con iissues with working in groups and create contracts
  • have students use backchn.nl for discussions
  • try real time writing as a group online with google docs and other writing websites
  • Internet is a forum of external memory
  • Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning Pogil http://pogil.org/
  • Move to stripped down textbooks, Univ. of Illinois, students don't read, they google concepts
  • Teaching is the art of changing the brain
  • Prior knowledge- only way you can learn something new is to activate neurocircuts already have

Backward design was a big portion of the conference as well. Don't organize a session based on what you want the students to know, but instead on what you want them to do.

4 S's- assignments sat each stage should be:


  • Significant problem- students view problem as authentic/real life
  • Same problem- individuals work on same problem, case, ?
  • Specific choice - individuals should be required to use concepts to make a specific choice
  • Simultaneously report- groups should report their choices simultaneously

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