Pilot classrooms serve as model

The interactive rooms model what will be built in the Science Teaching and Student Services Center.

University students Kimberly Reed, left, Gina Robinson-Haase, and Zee Chattha check over a diagram Monday in their Foundations of Biology class. The class is held in an Active Learning Classroom designed to create an interactive and flexible learning space for students through the use of technology.

Marija Majerle

University students Kimberly Reed, left, Gina Robinson-Haase, and Zee Chattha check over a diagram Monday in their Foundations of Biology class. The class is held in an Active Learning Classroom designed to create an interactive and flexible learning space for students through the use of technology.

Katie Wieglos

Samantha Miller doesnâÄôt just rely on her instructor or textbook to help her solve problems in her Foundations of Biology class. Miller, a University of Minnesota sophomore and neuroscience major, is one of many students taking a course that meets in an Active Learning Classroom, a classroom designed to create interactive and flexible learning spaces for students through the use of technology. Some Active Learning Classroom features include multiple flat-panel display and projection systems, a glass marker board that runs along the sides of the room and large round tables that seat up to nine people. Numerous screens around the room allow instructors to project computer information from a variety of sources. ItâÄôs an environment where âÄúyouâÄôre learning from each other and not just the professor,âÄù Miller said. There are two Active Learning Classrooms on campus that serve a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses. One classroom is in the Electri¬cal Engineering/Computer Science building and seats 45 students. The other, which seats 117 students, is in the Biological Science Center on the St. Paul campus. The two classrooms, which opened in fall 2007, are pilot projects that were built to test new construction and audio and video technologies, said Jeremy Todd, interim director for the Office of Classroom Management. These rooms also served as models for many of the new classrooms in the Science Teaching and Student Services Center, which is currently under construction and is scheduled to open for classes next fall, Todd said. Robin Wright, a professor of genetics, cell biology and development, has been teaching in the St. Paul Active Learning Classroom since it opened. âÄúItâÄôs changed profoundly what we do in the classroom, and as a result, it changes my relationship [with the students],âÄù she said. The interactive rooms also allow instructors to assist and interact with students during class activities. Wright said that as a teacher, she can âÄúcoach [students] and give them suggestions rather than waiting until they turn something in.âÄù Wright said she thinks the classroom allows students to engage in their work in a unique and beneficial way, making it more enjoyable. âÄúAs more and more students have these experiences, they might actually be seeking them out versus a standard lecture,âÄù Wright said. âÄúItâÄôs just fun.âÄù