We recently interviewed five instructors who taught in Lecture Hall LE104, located on the IUPUI campus, and asked them to give their perspectives on, and experiences with, teaching in this unique learning space. In this blog, Pat Clark, Lisa Contino, Modupe Labode, Gina Londino, and Kathy Marrs generously share their experiences with engaging students in LE104 and how they addressed obstacles in the space. They also provide quick tips for any instructor new to teaching in this room.
If you were to meet with an instructor who was going to teach in LE104 for the first time, what would be your top two tips for teaching in this room?
Lisa Contino: Spend some time alone in the room before the semester begins. Acquaint yourself with the technology. Imagine how a specific learning activity will work. Walk around. Mess with the lighting.
Pat Clark: Design some collaborative activities for table work. This really lets you utilize the table computers and monitors.
Kathy Marrs: Set up the class to be a two-way dialog between you and the students, and/or students talking to other students. Do not use the room for lecture – use it to hear the students working, talking, making sense of complicated material, and synthesizing that into a final product.
Gina Londino: Practice lecturing while standing in different parts of the room. The room has different acoustics and your voice can sound different in different parts of the room. It is a good idea to figure out the best place for you to stand when lecturing.
Modupe Labode: Use the screens to allow students to work on detailed information (reading websites, examining primary sources, looking at artwork). Students were very excited about doing this work and then sharing out what they worked on when “their” screen was visible on all the tables.
How did you navigate the classroom space, furniture, and other classroom features in LE 104?
Kathy Marrs: The instructor station tends to be the home base of course – I would launch things from there, but then tried to stay away from standing and talking there.
Lisa Contino: I walked around the room a lot. Sometimes we all just laughed about how awkward it can be to follow a moving object. When speaking to the entire class, I tried to do so from spots where my back was not to any student. I did not view the instructor’s station as the focal point of the room. If I wanted students to direct their attention to a screen, I made sure that both the big screen and table screens were turned on.
Pat Clark: I used the Doceri App extensively, so I would walk around the room while presenting with my iPad. This allowed me to spend time near all the tables in the room and alleviated the problems with the alcove area.
Kathy Marrs: I tried to sit down and “visit” with every table while students were working, and I also tried to get students to either go up to the center podium to talk, or stand when they presented from their table. We would also use the table layout for a “gallery walk” where students would circulate around the room to get information from another group that they could take back to their tables.
Gina Londino: I made sure that there were an equal number of students at each group station. I also made sure that the student computers had my lecture presentation so that all students could see the slides.
What do you perceive to be the biggest obstacle to teaching in LE 104? How did you address it?
Gina Londino: The sound in the room is hard to control. From the center instructor station, I could hear all the side student conversions and sometimes it was hard to stay focused on the lecture material. I reminded students that I could hear everything they were saying and it was very distracting to me and other students.
Kathy Marrs: The large and inviting screens at every table can provide temptation for distracting activities, but I try to give students a little time to show others at their table some “off topic” websites as long as they were related to class.
Modupe Labode: The location of the instructor’s station. I tried to move around, or even teach from the back of the classroom, so that the instructor’s station did not become the focus of the classroom.
Pat Clark: If class size allows it, do not have students sitting in the back alcove tables. Their view of you and your view of them is obstructed for a large section of the large monitor end of the room. Also, the sound is not very good for the students in the alcove area. You can still utilize these tables if you break the class out into slightly smaller work groups then gather them back together.
What was your favorite “thing” about teaching in LE 104?
Kathy Marrs: I really enjoyed the freedom and ability to truly structure a class and the learning objectives/outcomes around group work (research, projects), as well as circulating around students immersed in working.
Pat Clark: The table size is great. The students at most of the tables really formed cohesive groups. Several of the tables said they formed study groups or were at least more comfortable asking their table-mates questions than they were in the standard lecture seating. Also, I love that the student tables all have their own monitor. This allows students to be more intimate with the presented material and be able to do their own group work while having it visible to all at the table. I found the students to be more interactive with the lecture when they could point at or touch the screen. That might seem like a small thing, but it seemed as though students were more willing to ask questions when they could show me on the screen what they were having trouble understanding.
Modupe Labode: I really loved when students reported on their group work, and asked me to use the screens to call up something they wanted to teach with. Having the ability to share group work performed at the table on the large screen allowed students to really show off what they could do in class.
Gina Londino: I really liked that students had access to computers and to engage in group work in the classroom. I made sure to build classroom activities to allow students do their own research together. I would have students share their computer with the whole class and explain how they discovered a new technique and share images with each other.
More about LE 104 and what students think of learning in the space:
Thank you, Pat, Lisa, Modupe, Gina, and Kathy for sharing with us! The tips our faculty provided are just a few examples of what’s possible in LE 104. If you’d like to share your own ideas, please add them in the comments below. If you would like to learn more about LE 104 or schedule a consultation, please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow us on twitter and instagram.