Using the "Guide on the Side, Not the Sage on the Stage" Approach to Teaching

UMD active learning classroom
September 11, 2014

One of the latest technological teaching innovations, the active learning classroom, has been added to UMD's arsenal. LSBE's Financial Accounting class was able to use one of the University's five active learning classrooms this past summer.

The tools used to teach students have evolved and continue to evolve through technological advancements. Gone (mostly) are blackboards and chalk, overhead projectors and transparencies, reel-to-reel movies, cassette recorders, and floppy disks.

One of the latest technological teaching innovations, the active learning classroom, has been added to UMD's arsenal. LSBE's Financial Accounting class was able to use one of the University's five active learning classrooms this past summer.

The most advanced active learning classroom on campus, Room 410 in the Katherine A. Martin Library, consists of several tables with interconnected computer hook-ups and overhead video screens. Students are able to work together as a group utilizing one or more computers at their table. Controls allow their work to be projected onto their mounted video screen, shared/viewed at select other tables' screens, or viewed throughout the room on all screens. A table's project even can be given to the class instructor at the master control station whereby he/she can manipulate it as all students look at their screens–with the project "given back" to the original group with the instructor's changes. This methodology makes the class interactive and dynamic with the ability to utilize all students' input and contributions.

According to Accounting Instructor Loren Erickson, who taught the Financial Accounting class, studies have shown that students will learn more when they are actively engaged with their classes. With the flip of a switch, the instructor can turn over part of the class to a student, who then becomes, in essence, the instructor. Working from their individual laptops, "student teachers" then proceed to solve a particular problem with the rest of the class watching on overhead video screens.

"This type of classroom environment makes learning fun and engages students so much more than the traditional classroom and lecture format," said Financial Accounting student, Jireh Mabamba, who took the class this past summer.

LSBE encourages faculty to be innovative in the classroom and many are experimenting with the active learning classroom. The use of these rooms increases the students' opportunity to think critically by completing homework problems in the classroom with ability to ask questions as they go. This type of technology and this creative approach to higher education is another example of UMD/LSBE taking education to the next level.