ST. LOUIS, March 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Webster University's East Academic Building unites faculty, staff and students around the world through technology-enhanced learning spaces. According to Erik Palmore, head of Webster's Faculty Development Center, one of these spaces is the new Collaborative Classroom, whose mix of space, furniture, pedagogy and technology is configured to promote group work and sharing, creative and collaborative problem solving and design thinking.
"Collaborative learning is when students work in teams toward a learning goal that is best realized through the contributions of fellow students," Palmore said. "More and more programs of learning identify teamwork and collaboration as essential, and having a classroom space tailored for collaboration will enhance student learning in which collaboration is essential."
The collaborative classroom allows students the space and flexibly to work in groups stationed around the room. Within their group, students may switch between laptops and other individual devices to see and share insights as formal and informal work progresses related to the content on the team's own display. The instructor has easy-to-use controls for further extending each group's work, and for projecting to other groups or to the class as a whole.
A computer science class provides another example of how a collaboration suite can be a powerful tool. Instead of each student writing a section of software code and then sharing it with only the professor, a collaborative classroom makes it easy to project a variety of work-in-progress examples for the benefit of the entire class.
According to Palmore, "Learning that is social and collaborative requires feedback and interaction among participants, often in breakout groups. The new Collaborative Classroom enables our students to get to know one another and engage in dialogue; work on group and team projects by empowering each to share, create and make contributions with more immediate impact and results; interact in a variety of ways through student-to-student and faculty-to-student collaboration; and present their work publicly, teach others, or give feedback to individuals, teams or to the entire class."
For example, in the new Collaborative Classroom, student teams can connect their laptops/devices and develop the next-level decisions in a simulation by collaborating on the research and then sharing the results with the class for debriefing.
The end result? Students will have a much greater role in the learning process.
The collaborative classroom is an example of how physical spaces are beginning to adapt to the needs of today's learning. Educause, a nonprofit organization focused on advancing higher education's use of technology, published "Learning Spaces," a collection of articles on principles, practices and case examples related to the changing landscape of space and its impact on learning. In one chapter, Andrew J. Milne, CEO of Tidebreak, Inc., a learning space solutions firm, states: "In contrast to the character of formal lecture halls and classrooms, modern learning space design seeks to provide freedom of access and interaction with peers. From a physical point of view, these places are increasingly conceived as comfortable, flexible spaces in which groups can interact and collaborate regardless of activity, content, device, or technology." These trends emphasize that learning is becoming more social and informal and less structured.
With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University (www.webster.edu) is the only Tier 1, private, non-profit U.S.-based university providing a network of international residential campuses. Founded in 1915, Webster University's campus network today includes metropolitan, military and corporate locations around the world, as well as traditional residential campuses in Asia, Europe and North America. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.
SOURCE Webster University