Active Learning Classrooms (ALC)

University of Minnesota Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) are designed to foster interactive, flexible, student-centered learning experiences. ALCs operate using central teaching stations and student-provided laptops.

Requesting ALCs

Fourteen ALCs are available in the Robert H. Bruininks Hall for anyone to request during open scheduling. These classrooms can accommodate between 27 and 171 individuals and are able to flex into larger classrooms based on semester-to-semester demand. Use Room Search to find and learn about active learning classrooms. 

ALC orientation

Schedule time with OCM's Instructional Technology Coordinator to review the technology in the ALCs. The Center for Educational Innovation (CEI) has partnered with OIT Collaboration for Academic Technology Innovation and the Office of Classroom Management (OCM) to create tools for faculty and instructors teaching in these active learning spaces.

To learn how to incorporate active learning classroom technology while instructing, please see the Office of Classroom Management’s instructional technology support page or contact us.

Inside ALCs

In all ALCs:

  • Cooperative learning environments that encourage collaboration and peer teaching
  • Student table displays that allow individual and group sharing
  • Furniture that facilitates small-group work
  • Alternate options for class structure, learning, and instruction

In Bruininks Hall ALCs:

  • Centered teaching station, promoting interactive coaching during learning activities
  • Accommodates between 27 and 126 individuals per classroom
  • Ability to route student display video to all displays

The University of Minnesota ALC is a modification of the “SCALE-UP” (Student Centered Active Learning Environment with Upside-down Pedagogies) Bio Science 64concept that originated at North Carolina State University and the TEAL (Technology Enhanced Active Learning) concept at MIT. It also uses an adaptation of the Projection Capable Classrooms (PCC) technology system.

Check out how an ALC was used in Biological Sciences Center 64 by Robin Wright’s biology class. More information on the background of this project can be found on the learning environments research page.

Back in 2007, the pilot phase of the Active Learning Classrooms research found overall positive reactions to the ALCs from students and faculty, particularly a reduction in perceived psychological distance between instructor and students and students among students. It was also found that the round tables in the ALCs are important for changing the pedagogical dynamic in the rooms.

Further, a series of controlled studies has shown that new learning spaces:

  • Help students exceed final grade expectations

  • Affect  teaching-learning activities, even when the instructor attempts to hold these activities constant

  • Are not conducive to a lecture-based approach; student performance improves when instructors move to active, student-centered teaching methods.

  • Are perceived in a largely positive light by students and instructors, but some adjustment of teaching techniques is necessary

Learn more at the Learning Spaces Research page summary and Information Technology’s  Academic Technology Support Services page.