Learning Playgrounds Showcase Modern Technology and Furnishings to be Incorporated into Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs)

October 17, 2016



by Nicole Duff at 11:08 AM in Campus Community, Events, Projects, Interesting, Staff News

Learning Playground 1.JPG ​(The Learning Playground showcase in the Main Building (M.B 0.224).)

The next generation of innovative classrooms, which will feature unique technology and an eclectic mix of modern furnishings, will soon be rolling out at UTSA. As part of its on-going effort to familiarize UTSA faculty and staff with the make-up and layout of these Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs), the Learning Technologies team of the UTSA Office of Information Technology (OIT) is facilitating two Learning Playgrounds over the course of the next few weeks.

The Learning Technologies team, in conjunction with the Academy for Distinguished Teacher Scholars (ADTS), is spearheading the implementation of ALCs which are set to be launched in spring 2017. Through the strategic layout of their collaborative furniture as well as their leveraging of technology to enhance learning, ALCs will encourage increased engagement, teamwork and ultimately success amongst UTSA students.

"After surveying faculty and discussing the results of those surveys, we found out that a lot of faculty knew what they wanted, but hadn't seen what was out there," said Joe Tobares, director of Learning Technologies. "Instead of sending them to conferences, we decided to bring stuff to them so they could see what was available."

This led the team to organize two Learning Playgrounds to help acquaint faculty and staff with the new initiative. Over the summer, Tobares and his team first explored the idea of creating the playground which was then finalized in late August. They garnered the support of several manufacturers including Steelecase, Panasonic and Teknion to help them bring this idea to fruition.

Comprising furniture with distinctive names like 'The Thread,' 'Verb,' and 'The Brody' as well as state-of-the-art technology, these Learning Playgrounds closely mirror ALCs in their appearance. Not only will these playgrounds enable faculty, staff and students to experience the visual and tactile elements of the projected next generation classrooms which differ in design and layout from traditional classrooms, but they will also allow them to share their input on the redesign process.

In addition to movable chairs with cup holders in some instances, the Learning Playgrounds feature an array of furnishings designed to increase engagement and peer-to-peer interaction among students including:

  • The Verb Whiteboard: These detachable dry erase boards can be attached to students' desks to help them with visual representations during group activities. It can also act as a barrier for privacy during test-taking.

theverb.png 

  • Buoy: These height-adjustable stools, which are available in vibrant colors, can be easily moved to support peer-to-peer collaboration among students.

buoy.png 

The Learning Playgrounds will also feature touch screen interactive monitors, a variety of laptop computers and wireless display devices, which will allow students of ALCs to wirelessly present screens through a device called Solstice.

"I think it's important for faculty and students to see the showcase and provide feedback to us as the classrooms are where they spend most of their time on campus," said Tobares. "I want everyone to have a part in creating an environment that is designed for collaborative learning and help spark ideas on how we can improve student success together."

 

All UTSA Faculty and Staff are invited to visit the Learning Playground showcase in the Main Building (M.B 0.224) from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays only during:

  1. Learning Playground 1:    October 11th – October 20th
  2. Learning Playground 2:    October 25th November 4th

 

For more information about these Learning Playgrounds or Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs), please contact OIT at oitconnect@utsa.edu.