Center for Educational Innovation

Academic Affairs and Provost

Active Learning Classrooms

This site is meant to provide information, advice, examples of best practices, and inspiration to those using or thinking about using the exciting and challenging learning environments known as "Active Learning Classrooms" (ALCs). While it is based on and geared towards the ALCs at the University of Minnesota, we hope it will serve others as well.

ALCs at the U of M

Active learning classrooms (ALCs), many of them located in Bruininks Hall, offer a unique teaching and learning environment. The positives of working in these ALCs include increased learning gains and students reporting high satisfaction with the learning environment. However, these spaces can present a number of teaching challenges, including: a room with no front or focal point; noise and other distractions that may impact individuals with certain learning disabilities; and a need for mastery of the technology. Teaching in an ALC is likely to require an investment of time, effort, and perhaps a major shift in the way one thinks about teaching and learning.

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.

A typical ALC in Bruininks Hall:




ALC Resources

For tips on how to confront common teaching challenges related to the ALCs, see Considerations for Teaching in Active Learning Classrooms.

To read more about active learning classrooms, visit the Office of Classroom Management's Active Learning Classrooms Overview.

To see one of Minnesota's ALCs in action, view this Foundations of Biology Class Video.

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