Ball State University has long believed in the value of immersive learning experiences. Now faculty practices are undergoing transformation through immersion in a learning community dedicated to the precepts of active learning.
Even the most cutting-edge classrooms are ineffective if nobody knows how to use them to enhance learning. Case in point: When Ball State University upgraded a couple classrooms with Steelcase "Node" chairs as part of experimentation in "active learning," the faculty response was less than enthusiastic. The chairs are designed to facilitate a pedagogical shift from lecturing to collaboration and problem-solving -- but without training, faculty were ill-equipped to recognize the potential of movable furniture.
"People hated them," recalled Marilyn Buck, associate provost and dean of Ball State's University College. "In fact, when I saw them, at first I thought, why would anybody do this? [Faculty] were just thrown in there. All they saw was that students could roll [the chairs] around and they had no idea how to use them."