- Colleges are increasingly developing classrooms that allow for collaboration and exploration by re-arranging existing space or building new facilities to provide these environments. At one, a full-time staff member helps instructors design them.
- A report from the Chronicle of Higher Education says such changes, which allow students to work in groups or engage in discussions, are increasingly popular on campuses.
- At St. Edward’s University, a 5,000-student Catholic university in Austin, Texas, a learning-spaces manager helps professors design the space and change their teaching practices to use it best.
St. Edward’s has developed six spaces that are specially configured for active learning, some with furniture on wheels that allows for easy reconfigurations for small-group collaboration, and others with sophisticated video-conferencing equipment. Professors often change their teaching style when they are asked to use the space, the college has found.
Institutions of all sizes and types are trying out new space configurations with the intent of improving learning and student success. The University of Maryland opened a new learning and teaching center with advanced technology that is designed to encourage collaboration, and the University of Arizona developed Collaborative Learning Spaces that can be reserved by professors who say students learn better and use higher-order thinking when they have access to such space. In addition, Dawson College in Montreal recently provided students with several new flexible learning spaces with high-tech equipment.
Bryant University in Rhode Island built a nearly 50,000 square foot Academic Innovation Center that it says "removes traditional physical and intellectual boundaries to teaching and learning." It features an Innovation Forum with furnishings and whiteboards that can be reconfigured to support various collaborative group-learning activities, along with tiered, flat-floor and divisible classrooms, 23 breakout spaces and a café intended to draw student and faculty members to the center.