active learning classroom

6 Tips on Active Learning and Active Minds

Regardless of the grade level, subject matter or class size, today’s best learning spaces are designed for participative, active and engaging learning experiences that help students function at their best – cognitively, physically and emotionally.

Active learning spaces are designed to support fluid transitions among multiple teaching and learning modes (including lecture, discussion, group work) and give students and instructors visual and physical access to each other. Highly flexible furnishings allow students and instructors to easily reconfigure the space to best support their activities.

Today, this is especially important given teh setbacks so many students experienced during the pandemic. This broadened, whole-learner approach goes beyond academics and recognizes the importance of motivation, engagement and student wellbeing. Whether students are in the classroom or learning remotely, person-to-person connections and the ability to easily interact with teachers and peers is essential. A more effective use of technology also presents tremendous opportunities to enhance student engagement and learning outcomes.

Steelcase Classroom active learning

1. Active learning increases engagement and improves student outcomes.

In active learning spaces, students are more likely to:

  • Report an increased willingness to participate actively in class.
  • Accept new challenges and work beyond their comfort zone.
  • Feel a sense of community and belonging.

2. Active learning spaces improve movement, communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.

Over the past few years. Steelcase has partnered with more than 80 diverse institutions serving thousands of students at all levels across North America to understand how teaching and learning is evolving- and how smarter, more active environments can help.

Students report notable gains in movement in the classroom communication with peers and teachers, creative activities, critical thinking and collaborative learning. 79% of students reported that the experience in the environment designed for active learning was somewhat or much better than in a traditional classroom.

Instructors reported that the new space supports the type of teaching and learning that they want in their classroom and noticed improved student behaviors and mindsets. Instructors also favored the time they spent teaching in an active learning classroom when comparing the experience to that in a traditional classroom.

79% of students prefer active learning spaces over traditional classrooms.

active learning graph

3. Make technology and furniture moveable.

Enable both remote and co-located participants to move around the room. This way, remote students aren’t always ‘on stage’ next to the lesson. Mobile furniture and mobile virtual displays support a more flexible environment. If the classroom is sitting a group discussion, pull the virtual display up to the table instead of situating it at the front of the room. Make sure both remote and co-located participants have clean sight lines to people and content. Flexible furnishings and/or the use of mobile devices can let you move co-located or remote participants to give them the best view.

Students using Steelcase furniture

4. Arrange remote and local participants, and digital and analog content to ensure equal participation.

Activate vertical wall space with writable or trackable tools making everything in the room a learning tool. Some software platforms and integrated technology systems support the use of multiple monitors. That allows people and content to be displayed separately, which creates a more equitable experience for remote participants.

5. Design for the camera’s viewing range (90,120 degrees).

Make sure remote participants can easily see content. A robust video collaboration system, such as the Logitech Rally Bar Mini, allows teachers to move freely around the room. It can also showcase multiple types of content and material to students.

6. Use shared content creation tools.

Provide equal access to digital and analog information and enable multiple modes of collaboration.

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