TEAL Classrooms Enable a Highly Effective Way to Teach

May 10, 2018

by Olivia Pelehach (COLA, '18)

The new TEAL (Technology Enhanced Active Learning) classrooms, which were part of the extensive Hamilton Smith renovations, have the potential to create a much more engaging environment by fostering collaborative, active learning for students.

Academic Technology has been receiving feedback on the classrooms and the responses have been uniformly positive. Stephanie Clarke, who taught LSA 798: Who’s On First? Interprofessional Colloquium in the 99-seat TEAL classroom, shared that she really enjoys watching students work together in this classroom.

“In a traditional classroom setting, you’ll get a handful of students who are comfortable raising their hand and speaking up, but you (almost) never get large-scale, whole-class involvement,” she said. “The setup of the TEAL room breaks down barriers to student discussion, and allows students room to feel comfortable speaking up, providing ideas and contributing to discussion.”

However, a TEAL classroom might not be the best set-up for some classes. “If you try to do a traditional lecture, or even a class that only has a few team-based formats, you will find that the experience is stinky for you and for the students,” says Clarke. “To be successful, you need a team-based approach for 90% or more of your classes/class time, and doing the work to plan that before starting the semester will be well worth it in the end.”

What are 4 things that you can do right now to use active learning to its full potential?

  1. Sign up for the Fundamentals of Active Learning hybrid course.  You will need to complete this brief course in order to have priority for the TEAL classrooms in Ham Smith. Learn more - https://www.unh.edu/it/active-learning

  2. Request Ham Smith 130 (large TEAL) or 105 (small TEAL) through the Registrar.

  3. Become familiar with the technology and organization of the rooms to unlock all of the capabilities. The professors who are the happiest and most successful in the TEAL classrooms are the ones who are thoroughly prepared to teach in the new space and have adequately prepared the structure of the class. Contact Scott Kimball, Manager of Instructional Design & Development (Scott.Kimball@unh.edu) for more information on our next TEAL open classroom session.

  4. Consider using one of the Active Learning ready classrooms, that is not a designated TEAL classroom.  Classrooms that feature flexible furniture, white boards, and projection technologies may be perfect for your active learning class.  There is anticipation that demand for TEAL classrooms will steadily increase. In order to help met the demand, more classrooms are being converted to make them suitable for active learning.

It can be a major shift to teach in a TEAL classroom, but research has shown that students who engage in active learning typically have higher performance than students in traditional lecture courses.  This reflects well on the professors who make the shift. “The students have really enjoyed the classroom and I think it gives them a sense of ownership over the course material,” Clarke said “They are proud of the work they create, and they’ve been eager to share it with us and with each other.”   

With the proper training and class re-structuring, TEAL and other active learning classrooms provide a unique approach to teaching. “When used correctly, the TEAL classroom is a huge learning tool that can enhance the student learning experience and bring a depth and richness to your teaching that can’t necessarily be accomplished in a traditional classroom,” Clarke adds.

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