One of our professors was looking at local community gardens and sustainability. Her class worked on different spaces within the same canvas (document). She assigned each group a neighborhood and they used their phones or other devices to research community gardens, recycling, etc., and populated the canvas with information about their community. Once the information was assembled, students processed and rearranged that information within their groups and as such they’ve assembled, processed, and augmented their collective artifact. Next, the teacher invited the groups to swipe left or right to see other group’s works within the same canvas. She asked them to create a part of the canvas to collect all the commonalities. Students again worked on their own devices to access other group’s information, find commonalities and differences, and form conversations around artifacts.

For this teacher, the canvas became a semester-long showcase and an analysis of the Montreal community gardens and sustainability plans. She was able to leverage each group’s work as well as work between groups. Students could move around the entire room and discuss the artifacts as they scrolled through the canvas.

It’s a brilliant way to get students to work at all levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, and since it’s a cloud document, it’s accessible anywhere.

In another class, students created plot lines for historical films. They placed images from events into a timeline, which is another smart use of the space. These types of rooms let you become emotionally as well as physically involved.

One more example. A photography student used the Nureva room to showcase three year’s worth of photos for his final exhibit. He uploaded his work into a canvas that included 360-degree panorama pictures. People could scroll through pictures and within pictures and experience a continuous canvas that spanned three years of his brilliant work.

Q: How do students like these rooms?

Learn about active learning in this Q&A with Dawson College’s Chris Whittaker

One of the great things about these high-tech learning environments is that students see how other people think. They create formalized external explanations of what’s in their brain, and students say thing like, ‘I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective. That’s cool!’ and ‘I get to see how other students think.’

To see someone else as they’re representing information through a sketch, paragraph, or image is a great way to learn. These technologies also allow us to reduce the risk people take when they contribute to something. People feel more comfortable redrawing or erasing something because they can get it all back—all versions are saved in the cloud.

Q: Where can people interested in this kind of active learning get more information?

You can find out more at SALTISE (Supporting Active Learning & Technological Innovation in Studies of Education, a Montreal-area learning community that fosters the development and research of tools and resources for pedagogical innovations. For active learning activities tailored to specific learning outcomes and content, check out Active Learning Activities.

About the Author:

Ellen Ullman is editorial director, content services, for eSchool Media.

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