Ideas for New Learning Spaces

The Yale Center for Teaching and Learning is moving into a new home next year, and they are hard at work designing it. One of my favorite elements will be a set of several classrooms outfitted with the latest teaching technology that faculty can use to experiment. Just the other day Ed Kairiss asked for my thoughts on what should go into these new “learning spaces.” Here’s what I suggested:

  • Extremely configurable seating–This is probably the most important—I want chairs on wheels and desks that can be combined to form tables. Sometimes I want to lecture and have everyone face front. Sometimes I want small groups around little tables. Sometimes I want a big circle. Often I want to use all of these configurations in the same two hour class.

  • An iPad Pro with Pencil. I read this terrific article by Frasier Speirs and realized that I carry a MacBook Pro and a Wacom tablet with me everywhere so I’m always ready to teach. The Mac displays my slides and I annotate with the the tablet. The latency of the stylus (and thus the legibility of my handwriting) is awful, though not as bad as on my iPad Air 2. I imagine an iPad Pro set up would be far better, but I would love to find out for sure. Of course, it might be more efficient to just have a few of these that can be loaned out to faculty.

  • Moveable whiteboards so students can share ideas easily when they work in small groups.

  • Multiple screens around the edge as is the case in our TEAL classroom. I use them for poster sessions, but I think they could be used for small group exercises too.

  • High quality lecture capture. In addition to capturing video of the whole classroom and whatever is displayed on the main screen, it would be great if it could also record what gets written on a primary white board.

  • A 4th generation Apple TV—This lets me airplay my slides, but it could also run some very cool apps. Here’s one (Storehouse H/T @bonni208) that lets students send pictures to a central slideshow, and I think many more are on the way.

There are many other great ideas out there (e.g., here’s a great collection c/o the Vanderbilt Center for Teaching) and I can’t wait to see what the Yale CTL comes up with!