In Spring 2021, UITS Learning Spaces launched the ALCOVE (Active Learning Classroom of Valuable Experiences) in Woodburn Hall 203 at IU Bloomington. Designed as a sandbox space to explore options that could later be added to general inventory classrooms, the ALCOVE is outfitted with a variety of emerging classroom technologies (e.g., digital whiteboards, collaboration screens, mobile technologies) aligned with active learning space design.
Instructors use the space for an entire semester (two, if they choose), acquiring valuable experiences from actual course work that helps them to evaluate the space and the technologies – and providing feedback that drives the development of future classrooms across IU. For the Learning Spaces team, their input provides valuable insights into what faculty and students need and want, based on hands-on explorations.
For example, in an effort to untether the instructor from the traditional podium, an ALCOVE instructor’s laptop automatically connects to the audio and camera systems in the room. This lets the instructor seamlessly move around while still having full control of classroom technology wirelessly from anywhere in the space.
This approach is different than bringing in tech-savvy instructors and asking them to try out cutting-edge technology in a carefully calibrated environment. The idea with the ALCOVE is to have real classes experience the technologies, all working together and giving feedback about what works, what doesn't, and what would be better if tweaked. And the goal is to bring in as many disciplines and as much flexibility as possible.
The ALCOVE also explores new models for improving the HyFlex (Hybrid-Flexibile) model of delivery to ensure that in-class and online students can equally participate and have a quality experience. In particular, ALCOVE instructors and students value technologies that improve microphone coverage and camera tracking in the classroom.
The space continues to explore ways collaboration can be enhanced with digital tools. Other technologies targeted for evaluation in ALCOVE spaces include flexible student seating, improved support models for classrooms and instructors, and equitable technology solutions for all students. Ultimately, Learning Spaces sees this as a partnership with instructors, providing dedicated support and a learning community in exchange for direct, ongoing feedback.
The ALCOVE project started with one classroom at IU Bloomington, but will expand in Fall 2022 to include a second classroom at IUPUI. To learn more about the ALCOVE project or to sign up to teach in one of these spaces, visit The Learning Spaces website.