Warrington unveils Active Learning Studio

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Warrington College of Business Administration at the University of Florida celebrated the opening of its new Active Learning Studio on Friday in Matherly Hall.

The new classroom is designed to blend active learning, a participatory style of learning where students engage and interact with other students, with distance education. This allows distance students to collaborate with their on-campus peers in real time providing a vibrant learning facility.

“This Active Learning Studio gives us the unique opportunity to try new ways of delivering curriculum as well as experiment,” said John Kraft, Dean of the Warrington College of Business Administration.

The Active Learning Studio combines students’ increasing use of technology with collaborative learning — two elements that are significant to the education of today’s college students. Here, students are expected to learn from each other through in-depth discussion and team activities. Instead of delivering traditional lectures, professors adapt their teaching practices to guide students toward interaction and discovery.

“The ability to have my student teams work together is what really makes this classroom unique,” said Dr. Craig Tapley, Graham-Buffett Master Lecturer of Finance. “It is students learning from each other, and that is an effective way to learn.”

To facilitate interaction between on-campus and distance students, the room is equipped with multiple cameras and microphones to capture communication between students and faculty, a video production studio to manage the capture and delivery of live and recorded video and online communication tools such as web conferencing and discussion forums to allow for synchronous and asynchronous interaction between students.

Unlike conventional classrooms with individual desks directed to the front of the room, the Active Learning Studio has circular tables promoting discussion and critical thinking among students. The tables are equipped with inputs allowing students to display data from their laptops, tablets or mobile devices to multiple projector screens throughout the room as well as on the screens of distance students.

“What this means is that a student can break down the walls, so to speak,” said Dr. Tawnya Means, Director of Warrington’s Center of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment. “They can come into the classroom remotely. They can call into their team and work on projects with their team with the instructor still walking around the room facilitating their learning.”