From DSC:
How much longer before the functionalities that are found in tools like Bluescape & Mural are available via tvOS-based devices? Entrepreneurs and VCs out there, take note. Given:

  • the growth of freelancing and people working from home and/or out on the road
  • the need for people to collaborate over a distance
  • the growth of online learning
  • the growth of active/collaborative learning spaces in K-12 and higher ed
  • the need for lifelong learning

…this could be a lucrative market. Also, it would be meaningful work…knowing that you are helping people learn and earn.










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




Now you can build your own Amazon Echo at home—and Amazon couldn’t be happier — from by Michael Coren


Amazon’s $180 Echo and the new Google Home (due out later this year) promise voice-activated assistants that order groceries, check calendars and perform sundry tasks of your everyday life. Now, with a little initiative and some online instructions, you can build the devices yourself for a fraction of the cost. And that’s just fine with the tech giants.

At this weekend’s Bay Area Maker Faire, Arduino, an open-source electronics manufacturer, announced new hardware “boards”—bundles of microprocessors, sensors, and ports—that will ship with voice and gesture capabilities, along with wifi and bluetooth connectivity. By plugging them into the free voice-recognition services offered by Google’s Cloud Speech API and Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service, anyone can access world-class natural language processing power, and tap into the benefits those companies are touting. Amazon has even released its own blueprint and code repository to build a $60 version of its Echo using Raspberry Pi, another piece of open-source hardware.


From DSC:
Perhaps this type of endeavor could find its way into some project-based learning out there, as well as in:

  • Some Computer Science-related courses
  • Some Engineering-related courses
  • User Experience Design bootcamps
  • Makerspaces
  • Programs targeted at gifted students
  • Other…??




Teaching while learning: What I learned when I asked my students to make video essays — from by Janine Utell, Professor of English at Widener University


This is not exactly a post about how to teach the video essay (or the audiovisual essay, or the essay video, or the scholarly video).  At the end I share some resources for those interested in teaching the form: the different ways we might define the form, some of the theoretical/conceptual ideas undergirding the form, how it allows us to make different kinds of arguments, and some elements of design, assignment and otherwise.

What I’m interested in here is reflecting on what this particular teaching moment has taught me.  It’s a moment still in progress/process.  These reflections might pertain to any teaching moment where you’re trying something new, where you’re learning as the students are learning, where everyone in the room is slightly uncomfortable (in a good, stretching kind of way), where failure is possible but totally okay, and where you’re able to bring in a new interest of your own and share it with the students.

Take two:  I tried this again in an upper-level narrative film course, and the suggestions made by students in the previous semester paid off.  With the additional guidance, students felt comfortable enough being challenged with the task of making the video; a number of them shared that they liked having the opportunity to learn a new skill, and that it was stimulating to have to think about new ways of making choices around what they wanted to say.  Every step of realizing their storyboard and outline required some problem-solving, and they were able to articulate the work of critical thinking in surprising ways (I think they themselves were a little surprised, too).

Some resources on the video essay/scholarly video:



From DSC:

A couple of comments that I wanted to make here include:

  1. I greatly appreciate Janine’s humility, her wonderful spirit of experimentation, and her willingness to learn something right along with her students. She expressed to her students that she had never done this before and that they all were learning together. She asked them for feedback along the way and incorporated that feedback in subsequent attempts at using this exercise. Students and faculty members need to realize/acknowledge/accept that few people know it all these days — experts are a dying breed in many fields, as the pace of change renders it thus.
  2. Helping students along with their new media literacy skills is critical these days. Janine did a great job in this regard! Unfortunately, she is in an enormous minority.  I run a Digital Studio on our campus, and so often I enter the room with dismay…a bit of sorrow creeps back into me again, as too many times our students are not learning some of the skills that will serve them so well once they graduate (not to mention how much they would benefit from being able to craft multimedia-based messages and put such messages online in their studies while in college). Such skills will serve students well in whatever future vocation they go into.  Knowing some of the tools of the trade, working with digital audio and video, storyboarding, working with graphics, typography, and more — are excellent skills and knowledge to have in order to powerfully communicate one’s message.





Microsoft Surface Hub is now shipping – – from


Surface Hub is… “a new category of device that will transform the way companies work by delivering a new kind of productivity experience made for group collaboration. It was designed from the ground up for ink and touch, and harnesses the best collaboration and security features of Windows 10, Skype for Business, Office, OneNote and Universal Windows apps.”



Microsoft Surface Hub finally starts shipping — from by Nathan Eddy
Microsoft’s Surface Hub promises to revolutionize the way companies collaborate and communicate, but are businesses ready to pay a hefty price to do so? The giant, Windows 10-based device starts at $9,000.



Also see:





You can choose between 55” HD and 84” 4K options.
Start meetings on time with a tap of the screen.
End your session with an option to save & send meeting content to the group for later use.



From DSC:
Though this hardware is targeted towards the corporate space, I can’t help but think of the applications to higher education as well.  This is yet another tool that could facilitate active learning & stronger collaboration — whether that be in classrooms or in conference rooms.  Note how these solutions are often able to bring in remote learners/employees into the discussions.  In several of these kinds of solutions, the remote learners/employees can see and interact with the same content…such as in Bluescape.







Active Learning: In Need of Deeper Exploration — from by Maryellen Weimer

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The one proposed by Bonwell and Eison in an early (and now classic) active learning monograph is widely referenced: involving “students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing.” (p. 2)

Those are fine places to start, but as interest in active learning has grown—and with its value now firmly established empirically—what gets labeled as active learning continues to expand. Carr, Palmer, and Hagel recently wrote, “Active learning is a very broad concept that covers or is associated with a wide variety of learning strategies.” (p. 173) They list some strategies now considered to be active learning. I’ve added a few more: experiential learning; learning by doing (hands-on learning); applied learning; service learning; peer teaching (in various contexts); lab work; role plays; case-based learning; group work of various kinds; technology-based strategies such as simulations, games, clickers, and various smart phone applications; and classroom interaction, with participation and discussion probably being the most widely used of all active learning approaches. Beyond strategies are theories such as constructivism that have spun off collections of student-centered approaches that promote student autonomy, self-direction, and self-regulation of learning.



“It’s Not You, It’s the Room”— Are the High-Tech, Active Learning Classrooms Worth It? [2013] – from by Sehoya Cotner, Jessica Loper, J. D. Walker, and D. Christopher Brooks

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Several institutions have redesigned traditional learning spaces to better realize the potential of active, experiential learning. We compare student performance in traditional and active learning classrooms in a large, introductory biology course using the same syllabus, course goals, exams, and instructor. Using ACT scores as predictive, we found that students in the active learning classroom outperformed expectations, whereas those in the traditional classroom did not. By replicating initial work, our results provide empirical confirmation that new, technology-enhanced learning environments positively and independently affect student learning. Our data suggest that creating space for active learning can improve student performance in science courses. However, we recognize that such a commitment of resources is impractical for many institutions, and we offer recommendations for applying what we have learned to more traditional spaces.

We believe that the investment in ALCs at the University of Minnesota was worth it. Documented increases in student engagement and confirmed average gains of nearly 5 percentage points in final grades are improvements in the student academic experience that few educational interventions could aspire to. However, whether these improvements warrant the capital investment in ALCs is a judgment each educational institution must make for itself, drawing on local priorities and resources.

Instructors may need to think seriously and creatively about changing the manner in which they deliver their courses in spaces such as these —not only for the sake of navigating the challenges of teaching in a decentered space, but also to take advantage of the features of the room that allow us to better realize the benefits of active learning. The classroom architecture is bound to frustrate the efforts of faculty who don’t yield to the rooms’ novel demands. There is no well-identified “stage” from which to deliver a traditional lecture. Half of the students in the class may be facing away from the instructor at any given time. Teachers who view silence as engagement will need to adjust their perceptions, as one goal of decentralized classrooms is increased small-group interaction and this activity can be noisy and difficult to monitor. And, in the case of the ALCs at our institution, there is a learning curve with respect to the technological capabilities of the rooms.



Excerpt from the University of Minnesota’s Active Learning Classrooms web page:

What Is an Active Learning Classroom (ALC)?
ALC is the term often used to describe the student-centered, technology-rich learning environments at the University of Minnesota. U of M ALCs feature large round tables with places for nine students. Each table supports three laptops, with switching technology that connects them to a fixed flat-panel display projection system, and three microphones. There is a centered teaching station which allows the instructor to select and display table-specific information. Multiple white boards or glass-surface marker boards are distributed around the perimeter of the classrooms.




5 steps for creating a custom makerspace — from by Laura Fleming


The maker movement has created opportunities for all educators to give students authentic learning opportunities that go beyond the typical classroom experiences and to rethink traditional learning environments to include those that nurture the kinds of creativity and innovation that will benefit our students both in school and beyond. We know children learn by exploring and playing and doing and making and that these kinds of things lead to deeper engagement. The maker movement embodies opportunities for experimentation and innovation to occur across all grade levels and all content areas.

Physical makerspaces have allowed us the opportunity to pull some of this excitement of the maker movement into our schools. Makerspaces can help set the stage for meaningful student learning, as well as help cultivate a culture of innovation within a school. My makerspace inspires innovation, passion, and personal motivation and interests, and has encouraged students to pursue STEM subjects and careers.



Top ten makerspace favorites of 2015 — from by Laura Fleming


The most successful makerspaces include tools, materials and resources that inspire and allow for an environment rich with possibilities, allowing all students the opportunity for open-ended exploration.  In addition to tried-and-true favorites such as Spheros, Makey-Makey kits, littleBits, and Legos, there is now such a vast array of makerspace-related products available.

As this year draws to a close, we can’t help but reflect upon some of our favorite makerspace things.  Upon doing so, Travis Lape and I, have compiled a list of our ‘Top Ten Favorite Makerspace Items of 2015’.  In this post, we have provided links to all of the products, as well as a brief description of each. It is our hope, that this versatile and fun list will get you thinking about things you have never thought of before and help your makerspaces to continue to grow and evolve.



Resources for youth makerspaces — from





6 Back to the Future projects as cool as the movie — from by Lisa Martin







From DSC:
Some of the items that I see at Singularity Hub — and the perspectives held and lifted up by some of the authors therein — are over the top…at least for me they are. Nevertheless, at other times I think that there are some pretty solid articles at the site.  Along these lines, the following two postings are worth a read.


Automation is eating jobs, but these skills will always be valued in the workplace — from by Alison Berman
If you’d asked farmers a few hundred years ago what skills their kids would need to thrive, it wouldn’t have taken long to answer. General skills for a single profession that only changed slowly.


Finland recently shifted its national curriculum to a new model called the “phenomenon-based” approach. By 2020, the country will replace traditional classroom subjects with a topical approach highlighting the four Cs—communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. These four skills “are central to working in teams, and a reflection of the ‘hyperconnected’ world we live in today,” Singularity Hub Editor-in-Chief David Hill recently wrote.

Hill notes the four Cs directly correspond to the skills needed to be a successful 21st century entrepreneur—when accelerating change means the jobs we’re educating for today may not exist tomorrow. Finland’s approach reflects an important transition away from the antiquated model used in most US institutions—a model created for a slower, more stable labor market and economy that no longer exists.

In addition to the four Cs, successful entrepreneurs across the globe are demonstrating three additional soft skills that can be integrated into the classroom—adaptability, resiliency and grit, and a mindset of continuous learning.

These skills can equip students to be problem-solvers, inventive thinkers, and adaptive to the fast-paced change they are bound to encounter. In a world of uncertainty, the only constant is the ability to adapt, pivot, and get back on your feet.


From DSC:
I’m glad to see that they added 3 additional soft skills to the 4 C’s mentioned above: adaptability, resiliency and grit, and a mindset of continuous learning.


These skills can equip students to be problem-solvers, inventive thinkers, and adaptive to the fast-paced change they are bound to encounter. In a world of uncertainty, the only constant is the ability to adapt, pivot, and get back on your feet.


Given the pace of change, I think that one of the most overlooked competencies that is quickly becoming critical is the ability to scan the horizons to see what’s coming down the pike. We often have our eyesight turned downwards, focusing on the tasks at hand. But we don’t always do a good job of looking up, glancing around the various relevant landscapes to one’s job/position, and ascertaining which of the developing trends might impact us. We often either don’t know how to strategize or we don’t take the time to come up with plans for what we should do if those trends might adversely affect us.  Instead, we move forward with our eyesight pointing downwards — then we suddenly get blindsided.

Also see:

How would today’s smartest teens overhaul education? We asked them — from by Libby Falck
What happens when you gather 14 of the world’s brightest teenagers at Singularity University and ask them to design the future of education? During last summer’s Exponential Youth Camp, we found out.


The first thing that became very clear during our conversation was that our group of “Generation Me” millennials expect their learning to be highly personalized. It should be “my choice” to pursue “my interests” at “my pace,” they argued. Although this may at first sound childish, these demands are far from selfish. Why? Because personalization is necessary to compete in today’s intricately specialized world.

Nonetheless, our XYC teens told us they are looking for more than hands-on practice in the classroom; they want opportunities to work on projects in the real world as well. For them, contributing to the local community sparked engagement and motivation in a way that classroom work couldn’t match. Furthermore, the teens told us that most tests “just don’t make sense.”

The teens told us online courses are “great for educated specialists” but don’t cater to beginners. They cited a lack of time to complete online coursework and internet connectivity issues faced by many schools as additional issues. Mostly, the teens didn’t like the idea of “going it alone.” The problem wasn’t that online learning content was bad, the students simply desired guidance in navigating the material.

The teens told us they value traditional subject matter, but opportunities to build more practical skills were lacking. Interest in learning more about money management and soft skill development — like teamwork, problem solving and conflict resolution — was mentioned multiple times.




Creating Movies With Students — from by Jon Samuelson


“Here’s looking at you, Kid” – Presentation From BSD Future Ready Summit

Getting students started creating videos can seem like a daunting task. There isn’t enough time in the day to get your regular subjects done, how are you supposed to give students time to create videos? I am here to tell you it can be done. I hope that this post/presentation will provide what you need to get started.

Students can create videos on a variety within the context of what they are learning right now. Video story problem for math, a how to science experiment, or a book trailer that covers important story traits are all good ideas. Here is a list of apps, PDF Templates, and equipment that can be helpful when creating movies.


Thingiverse helps make 3D printing easy for student beginners — from by D. Frank Smith
A new startup guide to 3D printing takes students by the hand in their first foray into the magic of makerspaces.


3D printing is becoming more common at schools across the world, but there’s still a skills gap in using this new technology.

To help overcome that gap, Thingiverse, an online repository of 3D printing designs hosted by the 3D printer manufacturer MakerBot, recently launched JumpStart — an online resource for newcomers to the 3D design discipline. JumpStart is geared specifically with early learners in mind, says Laura Taalman, MakerBot’s senior product manager for education.


Also see:



The future of education demands more questions, not answers — from by Jay Silver; with thanks to EDTECH@UTRGV for their Scoop on this resource

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Technology alone can’t educate students. It’s not some mystical, magical ingredient one sprinkles over core curricula like salt on a meal. The magic is inside the child.

A Pedagogy of Answers
Too many schools apply a paint-by-numbers approach to tech: “Let’s cover this fixed information, in this exact way, in this set amount of time, and judge ourselves as educators and students based on standardized test results.”

A Pedagogy of Questions
Our national teaching model has for too long been a pedagogy of answers. In its place I’d like to suggest a new pedagogy of questions—one that prizes interest-driven, project-based, exploratory studies. Personal gardens of learning with no single pathway through them. More open play and less rote memorization. More learning by discovery than following set instructions.

As an inventor and father, my advice to those looking to make digital in-roads into our nation’s schools is this: promote learning that encourages kids to choose their own problems and solutions rather than a single, siloed system.

Tech isn’t the answer, but it can help us create a new pedagogy of questions.


From DSC:
I can relate to Jay’s thoughts and perspectives here — we need to provide our young learners with more choice, more control. More play. More time for experimentation. More project-based learning that’s based upon what students want to learn about.

How many parents wouldn’t give their left leg (well…almost) to hear their kids say, “I can’t wait to go to school — I love going to school! I love learning about new things that I want to know about!”?  To see such excitement, engagement, and a love for learning would be mind-blowing, right? If your son or daughter has that perspective, I’d guess that you value that attitude and that learning situation a great deal.

This morning a faculty member said something that’s relevant here. [Paraphrasing what he said:] “There’s a paradigm shift occurring these days in how to get information. We need our students to understand and react to this paradigm shift and we need to help them make that shift. They need to be more proactive in how they get information; and not go along with the “Feed me! Feed me!” approach.”

A final comment here…my kids balk at having to learn so many things that they have little interest in; it’s force-fed learning surrounded by — and shaped by — standardized tests. The list of things they actually want to learn about is either very short or non-existent (depending upon their grade levels).  I understand that they are at different stages in their ability to make judgments about what they need to learn about; they need foundational skills to build upon…and that they don’t know what they don’t know.  That said, it would be an interesting experiment for each of them indeed, for them to be able to self-select/choose some more topics, projects, and assignments and then pursue them on their own or with other small groups of other students. How might that impact their engagement levels? How might that improve their views of learning? Perhaps I’m off here..and too Hallmarkish, too Pollyannaish; but I’m tired of hearing the moaning and groaning again about having to do this or that piece of homework.



Addendums on 9/16/15:
I just ran across this item from Larry Ferlazzo out at that has a section in it —
Autonomy — that addresses ways that more choice, more control can be introduced.

The idea of asking better questions doesn’t just belong in K-12. Check out Jack Uldrich’s posting, A Framework for Questioning the Future.


In today’s era of accelerating change, “answers” about the future are becoming more scarce. As a result, a premium is being placed on asking better questions about the future.

Unfortunately, because most business leaders, CEO’s and senior executives view themselves as action-oriented “problem-solvers,” they have a bias for “answers” instead of “questions.” As such, they don’t really know how to ask better questions.

In an effort to help individuals and organizations overcome this bias–and in the firm belief that it is better to have an imprecise answer to the right question than an exact answer to the wrong question,–I have put together a simple framework to help companies, businesses and organizations begin asking better questions about the future.

The eleven questions posted below are design to jumpstart the thinking–and questioning–process:



The future of learning spaces is open ended — from by Lucien Vattel

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The spaces we inhabit have a profound effect on how we inhabit them. Space induces a particular way of feeling, of being. What are we saying to our children with we line them up in 5×8 rows facing the same direction toward a voice of authority? What do we say about desks that lock us in place, where the majority of movement within our gaze is eyes forward, eyes down? I remember my surprise when I walked into first grade for the very first time. The change from kindergarten to first grade was extreme. I looked at the arrangement of desks and thought, “what game is this?” It was a game I would play for the rest of my developing years. I was disappointed. I knew it could be better than this.

We look inside current learning spaces and look at the world; there is a big disconnect. It’s not reflective. We as a society have agreed by doctrine that our children will come together in a building and learn, and yet we allow our kids to be behind desks for a majority of their developing years. We evolve behind desks. Think of that! Students don’t need places to sit, listen and write. Instead, they need places to connect, explore, discover and relate. They need places of support. We spend over a decade being conditioned to receive and compete, imagine if space invoked us to support each other, everyday and in every way.

We need environments that help realize that within us there are unbounded treasures. We need environments that shine a light on our potential and provide opportunities to express ourselves.


Schools at their heart should be human potentiality incubators.



From Zeina Chalich:





Hackathons as a new pedagogy — from by Brandon Zoras


Students are coming out of school expected to solve 21st-century problems and enter into occupations that haven’t even been imagined yet. Schooling is not designed in this manner, so we wanted to give students an opportunity to solve problems in authentic contexts, using 21st-century skills and collaboration techniques. We wanted to break down walls between classrooms and have students use interdisciplinary skills to solve problems with teams of their peers, with mentors, and with industry professionals.

Why a Hackathon?
Hackathons have become a new way of doing business, creating products, advancing healthcare, and innovation. The energy is high, and so are the stakes. Can you turn an idea into a product over the course of a weekend? But let’s move beyond that. Let’s look at the teaching and learning within a hackathon. Hackathons are really the ultimate classroom.

It is within hackathons that students are utilizing their skills and knowledge to solve problems. It’s project-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and STEM all wrapped up into one activity! It’s about design thinking and truly a 21st-century learning opportunity. Students are working collaboratively within mixed-ability groups to examine problems and come up with solutions.

Benefits For Students
A huge learning factor is failure. Often, school protects students from failure, and students always manage to mix A with B to get C. The hackathon, though, enables a support system where, once an obstacle or failure throws a wrench in students’ plans, they work as a team to get around it.


Beyond Active Learning: Transformation of the Learning Space — from by Mark S. Valenti


The past decade has seen exciting developments in learning space design. All across the United States and around the world, across seemingly every discipline, there is interest in creating new, active, project-based learning spaces. Technology-rich and student-centric, the new learning spaces are often flexible in size and arrangement and are a significant departure from the lecture hall of yesterday. These developments are not the result of any one factor but are occurring as the result of changes in student demographics, technology advances, and economic pressures on higher education and as the result of increasing demands from employers. The nature of work today is inherently team-based and collaborative, often virtual, and geographically distant. Companies are seeking creative, collaborative employees who have an exploratory mindset. Employers seek graduates who can be more immediately productive in today’s fast-paced economy. Colleges and universities around the country are responding by creating flexible, multimodal, and authentic learning experiences. It’s a complex ecosystem of education—and it’s evolving right before our eyes. What an amazing time to be in education and to be a part of the transformation of the learning space!

The next generation of learning spaces will take all the characteristics of an active learning environment—flexibility, collaboration, team-based, project-based—and add the capability of creating and making. Project teams will be both interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary and will likely need access to a broad array of technologies. High-speed networks, video-based collaboration, high-resolution visualization, and 3-D printing are but a few of the digital tools that will find their way into the learning space.


figure 1

Figure 1. The T-Shaped Professional

Credit: Developed by IBM (Jim Spohrer, IBM Labs) and Michigan State University and
modified on March 16, 2015. Reprinted with permission.





CMU’s active learning classrooms improve STEM students’ learning — from; with thanks to Krista Spahr for this item
Environments support collaborative conversation, development of real-world skills


The active learning difference
Through state-of-the-art technology, students spend their class time in active learning classrooms collaborating on assignments and solving problems rather than listening to lectures. Faculty become coaches and guides instigating thoughtful discussions and debates. Often, students watch faculty members’ online lectures before each class session begins.

Studies have shown that active learning classrooms and their settings allow students to learn up to three times more and retain greater knowledge, strengthen student-faculty relationships and improve student performance. Active learning also is proven to increase the likelihood that students in STEM disciplines will continue in those programs and removes the gap between the success of male and female students.

The flipped classroom can be associated with more collaborative, experiential, constructivist learning. “Faculty become coaches and guides instigating thoughtful discussions and debates. Often, students watch faculty members’ online lectures before each class session begins.”




6 Secrets of Active Learning Classroom Design — from by Dian Schaffhauser
While the basic elements of active learning classrooms are well known, no one-size-fits-all template exists. Here’s how to achieve the custom fit your school needs.


4 Questions to Guide Classroom Design
By next year, the University of Oklahoma will have nearly a dozen active learning spaces, up from one in 2012. Every single classroom looks different from the others, and that’s by design. Chris Kobza, manager of IT learning spaces, and Erin Wolfe, director of strategic initiatives, have honed their process down to four simple questions:

  1. What’s the vision?
  2. What’s the focus?
  3. How flexible?
  4. What’s the budget?

The process starts when they sit down with the person or people who want to redo a room to find out what they envision — is it maximum technology or maximum flexibility? “It’s a real casual conversation but you can learn enough about what their expectations for the space are, what the expectations for their faculty are, what they hope the students get out of the space,” said Kobza.


active learning classroom design





Reasons and Research – Why Schools Need Collaborative Learning Spaces — from by Kelly Walsh
There are Many Reasons Why Flexible, Active Learning Classrooms Should be Widely Adopted


The power of Active Learning: “Many of today’s learners favor active, participatory, experiential learning—the learning style they exhibit in their personal lives. But their behavior may not match their self-expressed learning preferences when sitting in a large lecture hall with chairs bolted to the floor.”




Kelly references the
Learning Spaces compilation out at Educause:

Learning Spaces



From DSC:
Don’t like the phrase “active learning?” I’m compiling a list of other words/phrases/thoughts that one can use:

  • Collaborating on assignments and solving problems
  • Collaborative learning
  • Actively engaged learning
  • Peer instruction
  • Thinking out loud with one another
  • Constructionist / constructivist learning
  • Developing real-world skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, negotiating, and teamwork
  • Students have the opportunity to work in groups, solve complex problems and be creative
  • Emphasis on small-group activities
  • Immersed in discussion
  • Flexible in size and arrangement
  • Experiences and opportunities to better understand the material
  • Students are extremely engaged in what they are doing, and their thinking is being refined.
  • Creating and making; creativity
  • Effective interactions of small groups of people within communal spaces
  • Putting the focus on students doing the work of learning
  • Increased motivation via more hands-on opportunities
  • Sharing / exchanging ideas
  • Participatory


‘The shift is changing the way teachers plan, present lessons and share information. Students no longer need to all do the same thing to learn about a topic. This change is enhancing the quality of work teachers are receiving back from students, and is creating an environment where students are involved in the creation (versus consumption) of content that aids their learning. “A major change comes in the direct instruction piece. As teachers, we’re moving from simply giving information and offering a passive learning experience, to serving as a facilitator and guiding student inquiries. This method is allowing them to be active participants in their own education,” said Alder Creek Middle School teacher Vicki Decker. (Source)



Addendum on 7/17/15:

  • Designing Active Learning Classrooms — from; with thanks to Tim Holt out at for the original posting that led me to this resource
    Active Learning Classrooms (also known as Active Learning Spaces or Learning Studios) are classrooms or other physical spaces designed with active learning in mind.  In particular they are student-centered rather than instructor-centered.  Students often sit in groups instead of rows to support collaborative learning, and some classrooms even have movable tables or desks.  Students also sometimes have their own computers or tablets, and there may be multiple displays around the classroom, since students are not facing in one direction.  Researchers have found that active learning classrooms have positive influences on student learning and engagement.  Below are videos, examples, research studies, and assessment instruments related to active learning spaces.

A somewhat related addendum:



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