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Phoenix Forward magazine

In these classes, students don’t get in trouble if they write on the desks, walls and windows

 

When you think of a typical college class, you likely picture a setting in which students focus on an instructor at the front of the room and have little opportunity to engage with the material they’re supposed to learn. At University of Phoenix, however, Classrooms Without Boundaries (CWOB) offer an interactive alternative.

These classrooms at the Phoenix Main Campus and Yuma Learning Center blend features of a traditional classroom with the latest digital technology in what David Fitzgerald, vice president of the Phoenix Campus, calls a “marriage of software, hardware and pedagogy.”

According to Fitzgerald, students need time, effort and external resources to learn effectively. Traditional classrooms, he believes, aren’t set up with these fundamentals in mind. “The instructor is at the front of the room, and students are staring at the backs of each other’s heads,” he says. “There’s a one-way transmission of information.”

Classes in the CWOB, which opened in January 2012, typically last four hours every week. Students and instructors take notes, collaborate and give presentations. And they do it all using writable surfaces, collaboration monitors and the eBeam InfoWall™ digital projector that allows them to annotate, highlight and draw on anything displayed on screen.

And it’s not just the students who must make the grade in the CWOB — the tools are tested, too. “The University is funding ongoing research to determine which [technologies] enhance student learning and retention,” Fitzgerald says. The goal, he adds, is to continue creating an environment that encourages students to become actively engaged in the learning process instead of just sitting and listening to their instructors.

“How can you learn to ride a bicycle,” Fitzgerald asks, “without getting on one?”

 

Photos: David Matteson

eBeam, InfoWall and Scrapbook are trademarks of Luidia Inc.
PowerPoint is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

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