Several books and articles about learning space design have recently been published, giving much needed attention to new types of informal learning spaces such as the library commons. This paper aims to address this issue.
This paper describes the redesign of a formal learning space: the general assignment classroom. In 2010, one of the University of Iowa's Main Library classrooms was converted to an “active learning” space. The library location was selected as home for this prototype TILE classroom – Transform, Interact, Learn, Engage. The university's goal is to create similar spaces in a variety of sizes and configurations across campus.
The classroom is technologically rich, but was designed first and foremost for its pedagogical potential in fostering engaged learning. Ease of use was a primary focus, allowing the technology to fade into the background. Early adopters participated in a faculty institute on active learning and were provided with institutional support for reworking their classes to make them more learning‐centric. The configuration of the room and the focus on active learning enabled support for larger class sizes, while retaining the intimacy and active participation of a small discussion group.
The TILE classroom is one strategy in the institution's overall goal of improving student learning, increasing undergraduate retention, and psychologically shrinking the size of the university.
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