Introduction to Flexible and Active Learning Classrooms

University of Washington Seattle's Active Learning Classroom picture
UW Seattle Odegaard Undergraduate Library, Active Learning Classroom

Flexible and Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) are spaces that are conducive to learning where students are actively engaged in the learning process. Course activities can range from problem solving, discussions, group work, and reading and writing. There are several models of ALCs. Click here to learn more!

ALCs are designed to:

  • Facilitate collaboration and group work
  • Enhance faculty and student interactions
  • Provide support for students to invest in their own learning
  • Create a more welcoming and egalitarian space

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Characteristics of Flexible and ALC's include:

  • Flexible
    Movable chairs and tables (typically on wheels), different types of furniture shapes (cafe tables, soft chairs, etc.), and flexible computer access.
  • Multipurpose workspaces
    Adequate workspaces for laptops, note-taking, and whiteboards, as well as adequate space around workspaces for students and faculty to move around the room.
  • Highly conducive to sharing information
    Wall-mounted whiteboards, writable wall paint or glass surfaces, movable whiteboards, screen sharing technology, interactive whiteboards, and flexible presentation technology.
  • A welcoming, student-centered space
    Good light (natural light, if possible), windows, good acoustics, a variety of types of furniture for students to use, a diminished or no ePodium to allow for more faculty and student interaction.

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Importance of Flexible and ALCs:

  • Student learning outcomes and student perceptions of the learning experience can change to reflect a more positive outlook on acquiring, exercising, and using new knowledge and critical thinking skills.
  • These classrooms help to promote innovative teaching methodologies due to the reduction of lecturing in favor of other unique teaching techniques.
  • ALCs can help attract innovative faculty and students and make classroom spaces more inviting for students.
  • These classrooms can promote UW Bothell as a student-centered institution and help maintain UW Bothell's reputation as an innovative university that continues to hold paramount the faculty and student relationship.

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Flexible Classrooms at UW Bothell

Work is currently being done to implement  learning design principles into our classrooms. At UW Bothell we believe all classrooms should be flexible and highly conducive to sharing information so as to support group work and faculty-student collaboration. These spaces could include:
      UW Bothell Discovery Hall, Room 252

  • Chairs and tables that are mobile and easy to move and rearrange
  • Varied classroom designs and furniture, which could include round tables, different seating arrangements, and different types of chairs
  • Whiteboard space on walls and mobile whiteboards
  • Presentation technology
  • Mobile microphones for lecture capture

Other considerations for selected classrooms would include implementing technology that facilitates collaboration, such as:

  • Screen sharing technology
  • Multiple projection displays, such as LCD screens mounted in various locations
  • Mobile laptop carts, which can easily be used in a ALC
  • Mobile teaching infrastructure that can allow faculty to use mobile devices to teach and project course content
  • Technology infrastructure (power, network access, etc.) that helps the tools meld seamlessly with classroom teaching and learning

Given our beliefs in what a teaching & learning space should provide to both faculty and students, a cross-disciplinary team representing UW Bothell faculty, Learning Technolgies, Information Technologies, and Physical Planning and Space Management have redesigned 2 classrooms, which were launched Fall quarter 2017. DISC 252 had additonal whiteboards added and technology added to make the space more condusive to active learning and research into teaching and learning.

UW1 060

Drawing of UW1 060 showing rectangular tables and small personal whiteboard and updated chairs.This 30 person classroom was transformed from a dark, crowded classroom into a brighter, more open and highly collaborative space.

It features Steelcase Verb Tables on wheels, and with sidedocks for the 30 Personal Whiteboards that were also installed. The classroom also features hanging track on which the whiteboards can be placed for display or for storage. Steelcase Node Chairs that enhace the comfort of students and allows for the room to be moved in different configurations quickly.

UW1 110

This 48 person, 1239 squarefoot classroom is a highly desired classroom on campus for its bank of windows offering an abundance of natural light. Additionally, this classroom has floor boxes throughout the classroom to give students access to power for all of their devices.

UW1 110 features Steelcase Verb Tables on wheels, and with sidedocks for the 48 Personal Whiteboards that are also installed. The classroom also features hanging track on which the whiteboards can be placed for display or for storage. This room also contains the Steelcase Node Chairs which allow for the room to be moved in different configurations quickly.

DISC 252

This classroom, also known as The RUE Lab (Research on Undergraduate Education) is a flexible classroom that has been re-designed to support faculty who wish to conduct research to advance our understanding of teaching and learning. The RUE Lab allows faculty to implement innovative teaching strategies and simultaneously study the effect of those practices on student learning. Unique to this space is a 360° camera and specialized audio and video recording equipment for faculty to use for the purposes of their research on teaching and learning. 60  Steelcase Personal Whiteboards were also added to this classroom.

Reserving a Flexible Classroom at UW Bothell

The Flexible Classrooms at UW Bothell are part of the general classroom inventory and may be reserved for your class via your time schedule coordinator. If you would like to schedule one of the classrooms for an event, you may request the room via the Facilities Use Request Form.

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