A Space for Learning: A review of research on active learning spaces — from by Robert Talbert and Anat Mor-Avi

Abstract:
Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) are learning spaces specially designed to optimize the practice of active learning and amplify its positive effects in learners from young children through university-level learners. As interest in and adoption of ALCs has increased rapidly over the last decade, the need for grounded research in their effects on learners and schools has grown proportionately. In this paper, we review the peer-reviewed published research on ALCs, dating back to the introduction of “studio” classrooms and the SCALE-UP program up to the present day. We investigate the literature and summarize findings on the effects of ALCs on learning outcomes, student engagement, and the behaviors and practices of instructors as well as the specific elements of ALC design that seem to contribute the most to these effects. We also look at the emerging cultural impact of ALCs on institutions of learning, and we examine the drawbacks of the published research as well as avenues for potential future research in this area.

 

1: Introduction
1.1: What is active learning, and what is an active learning classroom?
Active learning is defined broadly to include any pedagogical method that involves students actively working on learning tasks and reflecting on their work, apart from watching, listening, and taking notes (Bonwell & Eison, 1991). Active learning has taken hold as a normative instructional practice in K12 and higher education institutions worldwide. Recent studies, such as the 2014 meta-analysis linking active learning pedagogies with dramatically reduced failure rates in university-level STEM courses (Freeman et al., 2014) have established that active learning drives increased student learning and engagement across disciplines, grade levels, and demographics.

As schools, colleges, and universities increasingly seek to implement active learning, concerns about the learning spaces used for active learning have naturally arisen. Attempts to implement active learning pedagogies in spaces that are not attuned to the particular needs of active learning — for example, large lecture halls with fixed seating — have resulted in suboptimal results and often frustration among instructors and students alike. In an effort to link architectural design to best practices in active learning pedagogy, numerous instructors, school leaders, and architects have explored how learning spaces can be differently designed to support active learning and amplify its positive effects on student learning. The result is a category of learning spaces known as Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs).

While there is no universally accepted definition of an ALC, the spaces often described by this term have several common characteristics:

  • ALCs are classrooms, that is, formal spaces in which learners convene for educational activities. We do not include less-formal learning spaces such as faculty offices, library study spaces, or “in-between” spaces located in hallways or foyers.
  • ALCs include deliberate architectural and design attributes that are specifically intended to promote active learning. These typically include moveable furniture that can be reconfigured into a variety of different setups with ease, seating that places students in small groups, plentiful horizontal and/or vertical writing surfaces such as whiteboards, and easy access to learning
    technologies (including technological infrastructure such as power outlets).
  • In particular, most ALCs have a “polycentric” or “acentric” design in which there is no clearly-defined front of the room by default. Rather, the instructor has a station which is either
    movable or located in an inconspicuous location so as not to attract attention; or perhaps there is no specific location for the instructor.
  • Finally, ALCs typically provide easy access to digital and analog tools for learning , such as multiple digital projectors, tablet or laptop computers, wall-mounted and personal whiteboards, or classroom response systems.

2.1: Research questions
The main question that this study intends to investigate is: What are the effects of the use of ALCs on student learning, faculty teaching, and institutional cultures? Within this broad overall question, we will focus on four research questions:

  1. What effects do ALCs have on measurable metrics of student academic achievement? Included in such metrics are measures such as exam scores, course grades, and learning gains on pre/post-test measures, along with data on the acquisition of “21st Century Skills”, which we will define using a framework (OCDE, 2009) which groups “21st Century Skills” into skills pertaining to information, communication, and ethical/social impact.
  2. What effects do ALCs have on student engagement? Specifically, we examine results pertaining to affective, behavioral, and cognitive elements of the idea of “engagement” as well as results that cut across these categories.
  3. What effect do ALCs have on the pedagogical practices and behaviors of instructors? In addition to their effects on students, we are also interested the effects of ALCs on the instructors who use them. Specifically, we are interested in how ALCs affect instructor attitudes toward and implementations of active learning, how ALCs influence faculty adoption of active learning pedagogies, and how the use of ALCs affects instructors’ general and environmental behavior.
  4. What specific design elements of ALCs contribute significantly to the above effects? Finally, we seek to identify the critical elements of ALCs that contribute the most to their effects on student learning and instructor performance, including affordances and elements of design, architecture, and technology integration.

 

Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs)

 

 

The common denominator in the larger cultural effects of ALCs and active learning on students and instructors is the notion of connectedness, a concept we have already introduced in discussions of specific ALC design elements. By being freer to move and have physical and visual contact with each other in a class meeting, students feel more connected to each other and more connected to their instructor. By having an architectural design that facilitates not only movement but choice and agency — for example, through the use of polycentric layouts and reconfigurable furniture — the line between instructor and students is erased, turning the ALC into a vessel in which an authentic community of learners can take form.

 

 

 

 

Reflections on “Are ‘smart’ classrooms the future?” [Johnston]

Are ‘smart’ classrooms the future? — from campustechnology.com by Julie Johnston
Indiana University explores that question by bringing together tech partners and university leaders to share ideas on how to design classrooms that make better use of faculty and student time.

Excerpt:

To achieve these goals, we are investigating smart solutions that will:

  • Untether instructors from the room’s podium, allowing them control from anywhere in the room;
  • Streamline the start of class, including biometric login to the room’s technology, behind-the-scenes routing of course content to room displays, control of lights and automatic attendance taking;
  • Offer whiteboards that can be captured, routed to different displays in the room and saved for future viewing and editing;
  • Provide small-group collaboration displays and the ability to easily route content to and from these displays; and
  • Deliver these features through a simple, user-friendly and reliable room/technology interface.

Activities included collaborative brainstorming focusing on these questions:

  • What else can we do to create the classroom of the future?
  • What current technology exists to solve these problems?
  • What could be developed that doesn’t yet exist?
  • What’s next?

 

 

 

From DSC:
Though many peoples’ — including faculty members’ — eyes gloss over when we start talking about learning spaces and smart classrooms, it’s still an important topic. Personally, I’d rather be learning in an engaging, exciting learning environment that’s outfitted with a variety of tools (physically as well as digitally and virtually-based) that make sense for that community of learners. Also, faculty members have very limited time to get across campus and into the classroom and get things setup…the more things that can be automated in those setup situations the better!

I’ve long posted items re: machine-to-machine communications, voice recognition/voice-enabled interfaces, artificial intelligence, bots, algorithms, a variety of vendors and their products including Amazon’s Alexa / Apple’s Siri / Microsoft’s Cortana / and Google’s Home or Google Assistant, learning spaces, and smart classrooms, as I do think those things are components of our future learning ecosystems.

 

 

 

logo.

Global installed base of smart speakers to surpass 200 million in 2020, says GlobalData

The global installed base for smart speakers will hit 100 million early next year, before surpassing the 200 million mark at some point in 2020, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The company’s latest report: ‘Smart Speakers – Thematic Research’ states that nearly every leading technology company is either already producing a smart speaker or developing one, with Facebook the latest to enter the fray (launching its Portal device this month). The appetite for smart speakers is also not limited by geography, with China in particular emerging as a major marketplace.

Ed Thomas, Principal Analyst for Technology Thematic Research at GlobalData, comments: “It is only four years since Amazon unveiled the Echo, the first wireless speaker to incorporate a voice-activated virtual assistant. Initial reactions were muted but the device, and the Alexa virtual assistant it contained, quickly became a phenomenon, with the level of demand catching even Amazon by surprise.”

Smart speakers give companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Alibaba access to a vast amount of highly valuable user data. They also allow users to get comfortable interacting with artificial intelligence (AI) tools in general, and virtual assistants in particular, increasing the likelihood that they will use them in other situations, and they lock customers into a broader ecosystem, making it more likely that they will buy complementary products or access other services, such as online stores.

Thomas continues: “Smart speakers, particularly lower-priced models, are gateway devices, in that they give consumers the opportunity to interact with a virtual assistant like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant, in a “safe” environment. For tech companies serious about competing in the virtual assistant sector, a smart speaker is becoming a necessity, hence the recent entry of Apple and Facebook into the market and the expected arrival of Samsung and Microsoft over the next year or so.”

In terms of the competitive landscape for smart speakers, Amazon was the pioneer and is still a dominant force, although its first-mover advantage has been eroded over the last year or so. Its closest challenger is Google, but neither company is present in the fastest-growing geographic market, China. Alibaba is the leading player there, with Xiaomi also performing well.

Thomas concludes: “With big names like Samsung and Microsoft expected to launch smart speakers in the next year or so, the competitive landscape will continue to fluctuate. It is likely that we will see two distinct markets emerge: the cheap, impulse-buy end of the spectrum, used by vendors to boost their ecosystems; and the more expensive, luxury end, where greater focus is placed on sound quality and aesthetics. This is the area of the market at which Apple has aimed the HomePod and early indications are that this is where Samsung’s Galaxy Home will also look to make an impact.”

Information based on GlobalData’s report: Smart Speakers – Thematic Research

 

 

 

 

Gartner: Immersive experiences among top tech trends for 2019 — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

IT analyst firm Gartner has named its top 10 trends for 2019, and the “immersive user experience” is on the list, alongside blockchain, quantum computing and seven other drivers influencing how we interact with the world. The annual trend list covers breakout tech with broad impact and tech that could reach a tipping point in the near future.

 

 

 

Reflections on “Inside Amazon’s artificial intelligence flywheel” [Levy]

Inside Amazon’s artificial intelligence flywheel — from wired.com by Steven Levy
How deep learning came to power Alexa, Amazon Web Services, and nearly every other division of the company.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Amazon loves to use the word flywheel to describe how various parts of its massive business work as a single perpetual motion machine. It now has a powerful AI flywheel, where machine-learning innovations in one part of the company fuel the efforts of other teams, who in turn can build products or offer services to affect other groups, or even the company at large. Offering its machine-learning platforms to outsiders as a paid service makes the effort itself profitable—and in certain cases scoops up yet more data to level up the technology even more.

It took a lot of six-pagers to transform Amazon from a deep-learning wannabe into a formidable power. The results of this transformation can be seen throughout the company—including in a recommendations system that now runs on a totally new machine-learning infrastructure. Amazon is smarter in suggesting what you should read next, what items you should add to your shopping list, and what movie you might want to watch tonight. And this year Thirumalai started a new job, heading Amazon search, where he intends to use deep learning in every aspect of the service.

“If you asked me seven or eight years ago how big a force Amazon was in AI, I would have said, ‘They aren’t,’” says Pedro Domingos, a top computer science professor at the University of Washington. “But they have really come on aggressively. Now they are becoming a force.”

Maybe the force.

 

 

From DSC:
When will we begin to see more mainstream recommendation engines for learning-based materials? With the demand for people to reinvent themselves, such a next generation learning platform can’t come soon enough!

  • Turning over control to learners to create/enhance their own web-based learner profiles; and allowing people to say who can access their learning profiles.
  • AI-based recommendation engines to help people identify curated, effective digital playlists for what they want to learn about.
  • Voice-driven interfaces.
  • Matching employees to employers.
  • Matching one’s learning preferences (not styles) with the content being presented as one piece of a personalized learning experience.
  • From cradle to grave. Lifelong learning.
  • Multimedia-based, interactive content.
  • Asynchronously and synchronously connecting with others learning about the same content.
  • Online-based tutoring/assistance; remote assistance.
  • Reinvent. Staying relevant. Surviving.
  • Competency-based learning.

 

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re about to embark on a period in American history where career reinvention will be critical, perhaps more so than it’s ever been before. In the next decade, as many as 50 million American workers—a third of the total—will need to change careers, according to McKinsey Global Institute. Automation, in the form of AI (artificial intelligence) and RPA (robotic process automation), is the primary driver. McKinsey observes: “There are few precedents in which societies have successfully retrained such large numbers of people.”

Bill Triant and Ryan Craig

 

 

 

Also relevant/see:

Online education’s expansion continues in higher ed with a focus on tech skills — from educationdive.com by James Paterson

Dive Brief:

  • Online learning continues to expand in higher ed with the addition of several online master’s degrees and a new for-profit college that offers a hybrid of vocational training and liberal arts curriculum online.
  • Inside Higher Ed reported the nonprofit learning provider edX is offering nine master’s degrees through five U.S. universities — the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University, Arizona State University and the University of California, San Diego. The programs include cybersecurity, data science, analytics, computer science and marketing, and they cost from around $10,000 to $22,000. Most offer stackable certificates, helping students who change their educational trajectory.
  • Former Harvard University Dean of Social Science Stephen Kosslyn, meanwhile, will open Foundry College in January. The for-profit, two-year program targets adult learners who want to upskill, and it includes training in soft skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. Students will pay about $1,000 per course, though the college is waiving tuition for its first cohort.

 

 

 

Benchmarking Higher Ed AV Staffing Levels — Revisited — from campustechnology.com by Mike Tomei
As AV-equipped classrooms on campus increase in both numbers and complexity, have AV departments staffed up accordingly? A recent survey sheds some light on how AV is managed in higher education.

Excerpt:

I think we can all agree that new AV system installs have a much higher degree of complexity compared to AV systems five or 10 years ago. The obvious culprits are active learning classrooms that employ multiple displays and matrix switching backends, and conferencing systems of varying complexity being installed in big and small rooms all over campus. But even if today’s standard basic classrooms are offering the same presentation functionality as they were five years ago, the backend AV technology running those systems has still increased in complexity. We’re trying to push very high resolution video signals around the room; copyright-protected digital content is coming into play; there are myriad BYOD devices and connectors that need to be supported; and we’re making a strong push to connect our AV devices to the enterprise network for monitoring and troubleshooting. This increase in AV system complexity just adds to the system design, installation and support burdens placed upon an AV department. Without an increase in FTE staff beyond what we’re seeing, there’s just no way that AV support can truly flourish on campuses.

Today we’re reopening the survey to continue to gather data about AV staffing levels, and we’ll periodically tabulate and publish the results for those that participate. Visit www.AV-Survey.com to take the survey. If you would like to request the full 2018 AV staffing survey results, including average AV department budgets, staffing levels by position, breakouts by public/private/community colleges and small/medium/large schools, please send an e-mail to me (mike@tomeiav.com) and to Craig Park from The Sextant Group (cpark@thesextantgroup.com).

 

 

 

Your next doctor’s appointment might be with an AI — from technologyreview.com by Douglas Heaven
A new wave of chatbots are replacing physicians and providing frontline medical advice—but are they as good as the real thing?

Excerpt:

The idea is to make seeking advice about a medical condition as simple as Googling your symptoms, but with many more benefits. Unlike self-diagnosis online, these apps lead you through a clinical-grade triage process—they’ll tell you if your symptoms need urgent attention or if you can treat yourself with bed rest and ibuprofen instead. The tech is built on a grab bag of AI techniques: language processing to allow users to describe their symptoms in a casual way, expert systems to mine huge medical databases, machine learning to string together correlations between symptom and condition.

Babylon Health, a London-based digital-first health-care provider, has a mission statement it likes to share in a big, bold font: to put an accessible and affordable health service in the hands of every person on earth. The best way to do this, says the company’s founder, Ali Parsa, is to stop people from needing to see a doctor.

Not everyone is happy about all this. For a start, there are safety concerns. Parsa compares what Babylon does with your medical data to what Facebook does with your social activities—amassing information, building links, drawing on what it knows about you to prompt some action. Suggesting you make a new friend won’t kill you if it’s a bad recommendation, but the stakes are a lot higher for a medical app.

 

 

Also see:

 

 
 

NEW: The Top Tools for Learning 2018 [Jane Hart]

The Top Tools for Learning 2018 from the 12th Annual Digital Learning Tools Survey -- by Jane Hart

 

The above was from Jane’s posting 10 Trends for Digital Learning in 2018 — from modernworkplacelearning.com by Jane Hart

Excerpt:

[On 9/24/18],  I released the Top Tools for Learning 2018 , which I compiled from the results of the 12th Annual Digital Learning Tools Survey.

I have also categorised the tools into 30 different areas, and produced 3 sub-lists that provide some context to how the tools are being used:

  • Top 100 Tools for Personal & Professional Learning 2018 (PPL100): the digital tools used by individuals for their own self-improvement, learning and development – both inside and outside the workplace.
  • Top 100 Tools for Workplace Learning (WPL100): the digital tools used to design, deliver, enable and/or support learning in the workplace.
  • Top 100 Tools for Education (EDU100): the digital tools used by educators and students in schools, colleges, universities, adult education etc.

 

3 – Web courses are increasing in popularity.
Although Coursera is still the most popular web course platform, there are, in fact, now 12 web course platforms on the list. New additions this year include Udacity and Highbrow (the latter provides daily micro-lessons). It is clear that people like these platforms because they can chose what they want to study as well as how they want to study, ie. they can dip in and out if they want to and no-one is going to tell them off – which is unlike most corporate online courses which have a prescribed path through them and their use is heavily monitored.

 

 

5 – Learning at work is becoming personal and continuous.
The most significant feature of the list this year is the huge leap up the list that Degreed has made – up 86 places to 47th place – the biggest increase by any tool this year. Degreed is a lifelong learning platform and provides the opportunity for individuals to own their expertise and development through a continuous learning approach. And, interestingly, Degreed appears both on the PPL100 (at  30) and WPL100 (at 52). This suggests that some organisations are beginning to see the importance of personal, continuous learning at work. Indeed, another platform that underpins this, has also moved up the list significantly this year, too. Anders Pink is a smart curation platform available for both individuals and teams which delivers daily curated resources on specified topics. Non-traditional learning platforms are therefore coming to the forefront, as the next point further shows.

 

 

From DSC:
Perhaps some foreshadowing of the presence of a powerful, online-based, next generation learning platform…?

 

 

 

Microsoft's conference room of the future

 

From DSC:
Microsoft’s conference room of the future “listens” to the conversations of the team and provides a transcript of the meeting. It also is using “artificial intelligence tools to then act on what meeting participants say. If someone says ‘I’ll follow up with you next week,’ then they’ll get a notification in Microsoft Teams, Microsoft’s Slack competitor, to actually act on that promise.”

This made me wonder about our learning spaces in the future. Will an #AI-based device/cloud-based software app — in real-time — be able to “listen” to the discussion in a classroom and present helpful resources in the smart classroom of the future (i.e., websites, online-based databases, journal articles, and more)?

Will this be a feature of a next generation learning platform as well (i.e., addressing the online-based learning realm)? Will this be a piece of an intelligent tutor or an intelligent system?

Hmmm…time will tell.

 

 


 

Also see this article out at Forbes.com entitled, “There’s Nothing Artificial About How AI Is Changing The Workplace.” 

Here is an excerpt:

The New Meeting Scribe: Artificial Intelligence

As I write this, AI has already begun to make video meetings even better. You no longer have to spend time entering codes or clicking buttons to launch a meeting. Instead, with voice-based AI, video conference users can start, join or end a meeting by simply speaking a command (think about how you interact with Alexa).

Voice-to-text transcription, another artificial intelligence feature offered by Otter Voice Meeting Notes (from AISense, a Zoom partner), Voicefox and others, can take notes during video meetings, leaving you and your team free to concentrate on what’s being said or shown. AI-based voice-to-text transcription can identify each speaker in the meeting and save you time by letting you skim the transcript, search and analyze it for certain meeting segments or words, then jump to those mentions in the script. Over 65% of respondents from the Zoom survey said they think AI will save them at least one hour a week of busy work, with many claiming it will save them one to five hours a week.

 

 

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