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UC Libraries Active Learning Classroom Showcases Innovative, Student-Centric Learning

Michele Griegel-McCord, an associate professor of English, used the Active Learning Classroom in Langsam Library to maximize student learning and engagement.

Date: 7/12/2016
By: Cassie Lipp
Other Contact: Marie Knecht
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-1919

Michele Griegel-McCord July eLearning Champion

With six tables equipped with a computer screen that students can use to conduct research and collaborate on projects, the Active Learning Classroom in Langsam Library offers students an intimate space for collaborative learning. When Michele Griegel-McCord, an associate professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, learned about the Active Learning Classroom, she thought her freshman seminar course on social media would be the perfect opportunity to try the space out. 

She said that social media has transformed our lives in so many different ways, so it made sense for the course to take place in a space that wasn’t like a traditional classroom. “The sharing capabilities of that classroom are very good at making student work the focus of the class,” Griegel-McCord said.

While writing courses already engage students in active learning, the tools in the Active Learning Classroom help enhance the active learning strategies involved in writing courses, such as peer editing and in-class drafting.

For example, students can review each other’s work in smaller groups on their table monitor. Griegel-McCord said this offers a safer space for students to share their work, rather than the entire class viewing it on a larger screen.

Rather than having to go home and stare at a blank screen, students can work on essays and multimedia projects together in class. The collaborative and focused process benefits students who may struggle with writing and helps them develop the collaborative skills they will need in the workplace.

Griegel-McCord said that a lot of the teaching tools she used in the social media seminar can easily translate into traditional classroom.

“At some point in the class, students should always be doing something, whether they’re drafting or reviewing or doing some targeted workshops,” she said. “In terms of active learning, it’s about getting students in the mix of something. They can use technology that’s already there to get involved in the discussion.”

Technology allows students to work more seamlessly and get immediate feedback when they have a question. The key to success in any course, especially online courses, is creating community. Griegel-McCord also teaches online and hybrid courses, where she uses video conferencing tools such as WebEx and screen capture technology. Using eLearning tools to create community shows students that their instructors are dedicated and want to help them succeed.

Since she has worked to find the best online environment for learning, Griegel-McCord has also discovered the best practices in traditional and hybrid learning environments. She wants to remind other instructors that anything may cause them stress in their teaching strengthens it.