Active classrooms help students learn

NW Staff

Northern constantly innovates facilities with new technology, and active learning classrooms are the next step to make learning easier for its students.

In the past, technological advances have included Northern’s Teaching, Learning and Communication Program, which allows full-time students and faculty members to use a university-distributed laptop.

NMU has also built a WiMAX network that helps students and faculty connect to the Internet off campus, covering much of Marquette County.

Now, Northern has innovated technology once again to help its students in the classroom. NMU built an active learning classroom in the LRC, with more active learning classrooms to be constructed in the building planned to replace Jamrich and Gries Halls.

Active learning classrooms use technology and other techniques to facilitate better learning and to help students retain more information.

The active learning classroom in the LRC has circular tables with LCD panels to project information from a laptop, whiteboards placed around the room and two projectors mounted to the ceiling.

Some subjects can be taught with nothing but a textbook, professor and whiteboard. However, there are some concepts, especially at the college level, that require more involved mediums.

Studies have shown that students retain 70 percent of what’s taught in the first 10 minutes of lecture. But by the last 10 minutes of a lecture, students only retain 20 percent of what’s taught.

Active learning classrooms can help remedy this problem. Lectures are an important part of education. Yet, lecturing is only one part of it.

A professor could lecture on a subject for 20 minutes, giving students the information needed to succeed in class. Then, the professor could ask the students sitting around the circular tables to discuss or debate each other on a question that the professor poses to the class.

As students discuss or debate one another, they will be using and working with the information that was discussed in class. By working with this information, students will gain a better mastery of the information and be more likely to remember it. After students are done with discussion, the professor can go back to lecturing.

Active learning classrooms are a step in the right direction for Northern, which teaches its education students how to use this technology. It’s time we take advantage of innovative learning instead of simply teaching it.