Active Learning Classroom

Background: Active Learning and the Active Learning Classroom (ALC)

Active learning involves students' efforts to actively construct their knowledge. Active learning strategies often involve complex, student-centered interactions between faculty and students. The physical space of an ALC promotes and encourages these interactions though accessible and flexible classroom design.

Interactive modes of teaching can be difficult to attempt in classrooms where the design of the space assumes that lecture is the primary method of instruction. In spaces where lecture is the default design, barriers to active learning include fixed seating, line-of-sight issues, a single fixed screen at the head of the room, and lecterns. While USF has installed A/V and IT (e.g. wireless) in many classrooms, the classroom layout and modes of instruction these spaces support remain essentially unchanged.

ALCs are teaching and learning spaces that allow faculty to move their pedagogy beyond the lecture. The use of flexible furniture, writing surfaces, and technology all combine to support faculty in engaging with their students through collaborative learning activities and more participatory use of media. Active learning classrooms facilitate diverse sizes and groupings of students, creating a flexible and supportive environment for a class to transition seamlessly between presentation and facilitated student group work.

USF’s ALC in Gleeson Library

The Active Learning Classroom was designed with input from faculty/librarians, CIT/ITS, and the University Registrar’s Office.

active learning classroom

The ALC has 40 "node" chairs that are movable and color-keyed: "Node" chairs are highly mobile and have swivel seats that allow students to shift focus throughout the room.

color-keyed \"node\" chairs

These chairs provide clear sight lines to the instructor, fellow students, and whiteboards, and can dramatically enhance interaction.

The ALC has 6 LCDs with Airplay/Apple TV, and each can be used independently.

The ALC has multiple whiteboards that are also mobile.

Requesting the ALC for Instruction

The active learning classroom located in Gleeson Library has limited availability. As faculty, you have priority for this space. However, there is more need than available scheduling slots for classes. 

There are two steps for faculty who would like to request the ALC


  1. Develop a brief description of how you plan to use the ALC.

    The active learning classroom was designed as a student-centered, technology-rich learning environment. As you plan for how you might integrate the space into your pedagogy, please address the following:

    • Which of your learning outcomes align with the ALC design?
    • Of the activities built into your class, which ones will make use of the ALC design and how?
  2. Contact the classroom scheduler in your school or college with your scheduling needs and your written description to how you plan to use the ALC.