The idea of smart cities, smart campuses, and smart homes is continued in the creation of smart spaces to enhance learning in educational institutions in many countries around the world. Active learning methods (ALM) have been discussed and used in school and university education a long time ago, since the second half of the 20th century many studies, textbooks have been written, hundreds of conferences and seminars on this topic have been held, both of a general nature and with an emphasis on certain specialties and disciplines (Mullina, 2016). It should be mentioned that these methods develop and become more complex under the influence of new technologies appear, this is a very interesting and creative process, primarily for teachers, who have to quickly and efficiently master new approaches, skills, and strategies. The flow of information and technologizing into educational systems is so rapid that it makes teachers have a difficult choice – either to meet the requirements growing from day to day or to make room for more advanced specialists.
However, active learning includes not only the improvement of teacher’s professionalism and skills but also the active involvement of students in the learning process through discussions, problem solving, studying specific situations, projects, and other methods. With its help, students study a number of educational processes, choose which of them can be more effective and interesting, and take greater responsibility for their education. At the same time, the use of active learning strategies does not imply a complete abandonment of the lecture format, but rather, it adds active strategies for effectively mastering the latest materials. These exercises can test understanding or practice skills (Study Guides and Strategies Website, 2018). The main component of many forms of conducting classes with ALM is collective activity and a discussion form of creative thinking. Experiments in a number of universities have shown that the use of collective forms of education had a great influence on the development of students’ intellectual abilities. (Korneeva, 2009).
However, in this battle for progress, much depends not only on flexibility, mobility, ability to adapt, learn for a short time of teacher and student, but also on the responsibilities that educational institutions should undertake. On the one hand, they should make every effort to promote professional growth and improvement of teachers; on the other hand, they must provide all the organizational, material and technical conditions for classes and training students.
One of the new concepts in modern education has been the creation of a learning space that is fully focused on active learning. For example, the Anteater Learning UC Pavilion at the American University of California, Irvine, which has been functioning since the beginning of the current academic year, is intended for the education of the 21st century. It added two large lecture rooms, six large auditoriums, four 30-person auditoriums, three computer classes, staff offices and meeting rooms to the existing learning space of the fast-growing campus. There are special training rooms, which students can book for independent work, as well as lounges. 15 smart classes and classrooms of the Pavilion are equipped with flexible furniture, several written surfaces, and wireless projection to optimize active learning. Outdated audiovisual equipment was replaced with sleek computer screens on each wall and desk. Each of them can be associated with a laptop or mobile devices. Teachers can switch devices between presentation mode (where students see what is on the teacher’s screen), group mode (where display control is transferred to students), and student sharing mode (information from any student’s display can be shared with the entire class).
The seats rotate easily and move around the class for group exercises. With the help of screens, it is possible to visualize to the smallest detail in the structure of the human brain, the historical landscape of the city of the 19th century, or raise the sea level, submerging the calculated number of various objects there as a comic task, but with quite real calculations.
Research conducted by experts shows that such active learning can help students better preserve knowledge, earn higher grades and acquire long-term skills. To get the opportunity to teach in the new building, teachers master the eight-week certification program on active learning methods and technologies. This program consists of eight seminars, after which the teachers conduct training in their class before receiving a certificate. Hundreds of applicants are already on the waiting list. (UCI Anteater Learning Pavilion, 2018)
To find out the degree of effectiveness of this expensive project, over the next year the university will conduct research in a new building. This study will include a combination of classroom observations, student and teacher surveys, interviews and focus groups, and course results. Much of the research will focus on studying the effectiveness of various active learning strategies in various learning environments. The project involves research students who will collect data using a network research system and special equipment developed at the University of California.
Another large-scale project at North Carolina State University is to create interactive learning with extensive collaboration opportunities for major courses. A study showed that this environment improves problem solving and conceptual understanding, generates a more positive attitude to the learning process, and the frequency of failures is sharply reduced (North Carolina State University, 2011).
Experts from the University of Minnesota also monitored the work of active learning classes (ALC) over the past 5 years of their use and found that the ALC gave a completely different dynamic, with much more discussion and less time spent on the podium. Thanks to these classes, students showed results higher than expected. More than 85 % of the students surveyed recommend this place to other classes. In general, in the US, more than 200 universities and colleges in recent years have been developing Active Learning Spaces, giving students the opportunity to work together, in groups with different numbers of students, in the same space (Center for Educational Innovation, 2013).
Most of the classes used today in educational institutions of Kazakhstan were built for traditional pedagogy under conditions of passive education. Inflexible layouts and furniture with limited mobility, incomplete projection equipment, outdated devices, and equipment make it difficult for students and teachers to interact, so the environment is often not an auxiliary factor, but a barrier to the learning process. In addition, some teachers do not always have enough technical competence or equipment to act as a consultant, to whom trainees can seek advice. Due to the lack of special training, courses for enhancing teaching competence, many new techniques, and technological innovations have to be mastered empirically through trials and errors.
However, even in the absence of an effective learning space, educators try to maintain a modern rhythm of learning, use available resources, including the classroom, in such a way as to support different styles of learning and teaching for different classes and courses and adapt to the changing needs of students.
When using ALM, the role of the teacher changes, he ceases to be a central figure of the educational process, but at the same time regulates the process and deals with its overall organization, prepares the necessary tasks, case studies, formulates questions or topics for discussion in groups, consults, controls time and the order of implementation of the plan for the development of the discipline program, prescribed in the teaching and methodical complexes and curriculum. Gradually, lectures by professors from the rostrum are receding into the past. Students in classes can and even must communicate with each other, check their mobile phones or take e-notes. ALM help to establish emotional contacts between students, teach them to work in a team, listen to the opinions of their comrades, provide high motivation, a strength of knowledge, creativity, and imagination. The use of ALM and the reorganization of space allows us to solve several tasks simultaneously, where one of the main aims is to improve the development of modern skills. As the experience of many modern educational institutions shows, the best space leads to the improvement of processes and learning outcomes.
The 21st century academic community witnesses how architectural and engineering ideas change the landscape of modern schools and campuses improve the learning process, increase its efficiency and practical effectiveness. Students who have been educated through active methods and learning environments begin to think deeper and more critically, communicate openly and more productively, build their activities rationally and independently. Of course, not every school, or even every university, can afford such innovative design and technical projects. However, the quality of education is an integral part of the quality of life. Finally, isn’t this process the essence of “Rouhani Zhangyru” program for the modernization of national consciousness?
Mullina E.R. (2016). Technologies of Active and Interactive Training in The System of Professional Training of Bachelor Students // International Journal of Applied and Fundamental Research. – № 12. – pp. 1057-1061. Retrieved from https://applied-research.ru/ru/article/view?id=10985. Accessed on 12.13.2018.
Study Guides and Strategies Website. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.studygs.net/activelearn.htm. Accessed on 12.09.2018.
Korneeva E.N. (2009). Active methods of social and psychological learning. Retrieved from http://cito-web.yspu.org/link1/metod/met110/node3.html. Accessed on 12.13.2018.
UCI Anteater Learning Pavilion. (2018). Retrieved from http://alp.uci.edu/. Accessed on 09.12.2018.
North Carolina State University. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.ncsu.edu/per/scaleup.html. Accessed on 14.12.2018.
Center for Educational Innovation. University of Minnesota. (2013). Retrieved from https://cei.umn.edu/active-learning. Accessed on 09.12.2018 .
Note: The views expressed in this blog are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the Institute’s editorial policy.
Nadirova Gulnar Ermuratovna graduated from the Oriental Faculty of Leningrad State University, in 1990 she defended her thesis on the Algerian literature at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, in 2006 doctoral thesis - on modern Tunisian literature at the Tashkent Institute of Oriental Studies, Professor.