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Edtech Advocacy &
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Three Perspectives on Active and Innovative Learning Spaces: A Discussion of Usability

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Panel

Monday, June 24, 8:30–9:30 am
Location: Nutter Theater: Level 1

Dr. Dikran Kassabian   Dr. Christian Penny   Jhalil Rivera   Dr. Jordan Schugar  
Amidst a variety of progressive changes in education, the typical brick-and-mortar classroom has not changed in decades. If we are serious about enhancing learning then we need to rethink our classroom spaces. Join this data-driven conversation as we address teacher preparation, flexible furniture, infrastructure and school politics.

Audience: Chief technology officers/superintendents/school board members, Curriculum/district specialists, Library media specialists
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Innovative learning environments
Grade level: Community college/university
Subject area: Language arts, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Education Leaders:
Equity and Citizenship Advocate
  • Ensure all students have skilled teachers who actively use technology to meet student learning needs.
For Educators:
  • Shape, advance and accelerate a shared vision for empowered learning with technology by engaging with education stakeholders.
  • Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Does the average classroom support the flexible agenda of active learning? Universally, the answer to this question is no. At almost every educational institution, the classroom furniture is not suited for multiple modes of learning. Desks and chairs often sit in tight rows that restrict movement and discourage collaborative work. Moving the furniture is time-consuming and inconvenient to such an extent that the next class often sits in the configuration of the previous class, whether it’s appropriate to the day’s activities or not.

In an effort to better understand learning spaces this panel will share insights from the front lines about what’s needed and what actually works in day-to-day classroom use. We will also discuss how to effectively prepare teachers to work in “smart spaces.” With many new teachers having little prior experience as students in these active learning spaces, the concern is that the educational opportunities will not be realized without sufficient teacher preparation.

Participants in this session will learn how our University creates these spaces; how faculty are using these spaces and also learning to use these spaces; and how students embrace these environments as a means to meeting their own professional goals.

Yet, creating these learning environments is no easy task particularly because the people designing these spaces are usually not the same individuals who are using them. So, in an effort to bridge this disconnect, our University has adopted a horizontal approach to implementation and adoption wherein all possible stakeholders are involved in the process; from the design to the actual classroom teaching.

At the heart of this approach is undoubtedly professional development. And in this session we will describe how several on-campus initiatives to encourage innovation and exploration of these new spaces. This program allows faculty participants to learn from outside experts, practice with their own pedagogy, and consort with similarly-minded individuals. Our workshop based approach leverages the faculty champions on campus; those persons who are willing to try new technology and new pedagogy even when the outcome (or impact) is unknown. However, the true measure of our success can only be measured by our students, so this panel will also include insight from a student teacher who intends to apply active learning principles to his own classroom.


Our session will begin with brief introductions by our panel members -- a student (Mr. Rivera), a professor (Dr. Penny), and a VP for Information Services/CIO (Dr. Kassabian). Then the moderator (Dr. Schugar) will ask a series of open-ended questions that encourage dialogue between and amongst participants. During this Q/A participants will be able to identify how an administrator, faculty member, and student view and use these spaces. The session will conclude with audience members having an opportunity to ask questions to our panel.

Supporting research

Our research examines some of the work done by Bob Beichner, John Belcher, and Carl Weiman. We are also interested in the work and research emerging from the U. of Pennsylvania, specifically their SAIL (Structured Active In-Class Learning) initiatives. Previously we have presented our research at a local area conference -- RECAP -- hosted by West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

More [+]


Dr. Dikran Kassabian, West Chester University
Dr. Christian Penny, West Chester Univ Of Penn
Jhalil Rivera, West Chester University
Dr. Jordan Schugar, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

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