It is an exciting time to teach at UNC! In response to a 2012 faculty survey on classrooms, the University has been experimenting with alternative classroom designs to accommodate a wider range of teaching methods. Last fall, Provost Bob Blouin approved a master plan put forward by the Classroom Policy Steering Committee to expedite updates to roughly a third of the University’s general purpose classrooms. The Flexible Learning Spaces Initiative (FLSI) is a multi-year plan to implement these changes and help faculty, graduate instructors, and students make the most of them. 

  • 35 smaller classrooms have already been updated, with additional updates scheduled for winter break 2019.
  • Design work has begun on proposed renovations for several lecture halls.
  • The faculty-led Classrooms Modernization Advisory Group, with ongoing input from instructors and students, continues to help oversee implementation.

Resources for Instructors Teaching in Flexible Classrooms

Flexible Learning Spaces Open House: Drop by for this informal opportunity to familiarize yourself with a flexible learning space and chat with colleagues who have taught in these classrooms. No registration is necessary.

Thursday, August 15, 2:00pm-3:30pm
209 Gardner Hall

Flexible Classrooms Ambassadors: Reach out to campus colleagues who have experience teaching in a flexible learning space.

Active Learning Videos: Short step-by-step guides to implementing easy-to-adopt active learning strategies, plus discussion from UNC instructors on how they use the techniques.

  • Think-pair-share: Thomas Freeman (Chemistry) talks about his use of this popular interactive technique.
  • Whiteboards: Glynis Cowell (Romance Studies) discusses her students’ use of shared writing surfaces in the classroom.

Active Learning Web Resources: A curated collection of web resources on how to implement active learning techniques.

Classroom Management Guides: These brief guides provide practical suggestions and tips for utilizing space in flexible learning spaces at Carolina.

Classroom Configuration Slides (PPT): These editable Powerpoint slides can help you communicate with students as they reconfigure the mobile furniture.

CFE Workshop Series: Making the Most of Flexible Classrooms
Workshops in this series include an introduction to flexible classrooms and active learning, implementing small group activities, and designing effective prompts. The Fall 2019 semester schedule is listed below:

Introduction to Teaching in a Flexible Learning Space

Designed to help faculty take advantage of the newly renovated classrooms, this workshop provides attendees a brief background on the new furniture and other changes. Then, we’ll model a few practical teaching techniques that can be easily implemented in any class. In order to fully illustrate these ideas, this workshop will be held in active learning classrooms across campus.

Monday, August 19, 1:00pm-2:00pm
220 Peabody Hall     [Register]

Tuesday, August 27, 3:30pm-4:30pm
G205 Murray Hall      [Register]

Wednesday, October 9, 9:00am-10:00am
220 Peabody Hall      [Register]

Tuesday, November 5, 3:30pm-4:30pm
G205 Murray Hall      [Register]

Wednesday, December 5, Noon-1:00pm
203 Alumni Hall      [Register]

Best Practices for Small Group Activities

Using small group activities during class presents its own set of challenges and opportunities. In this workshop, we will generate examples of potential group work and projects that fit course goals, and reflect on how the instructor’s role changes using this format. We will also dig into some common pitfalls of group work and strategies to overcome them, including group learning contracts and assigning roles.

Wednesday, August 14, 11:00am-Noon
203 Dey Hall       [Register]

Wednesday, August 28, 9:00am-10:00am
220 Peabody Hall      [Register]

Monday, October 7, 3:30pm-4:30pm
317 Greenlaw Hall      [Register]

Wednesday, December 11, 3:00pm-4:00pm
317 Greenlaw Hall      [Register]

Designing Effective Discussion Prompts

The effectiveness of in-class activities is closely linked to the appropriateness of the question or set of questions being asked. In this workshop, instructors will be introduced to strategies for developing effective question prompts. Concepts and techniques covered in this workshop can also be used to create effective prompts for exams and out-of-class assignments.

Tuesday, September 24, 3:30pm-4:30pm
302 Woollen Gym      [Register]

Wednesday, November 6, 2:30pm-3:30pm
217 Bingham Hall      [Register]

Flexible Learning Spaces Retreat 

This event is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of best practices for teaching in the new flexible learning spaces. The retreat will incorporate our three signature workshops: Introduction to Teaching in a Flexible Learning Space, Best Practices for Small Group Activities, and Designing Effective Discussion Prompts. Attendees will get a brief background on the new furniture and other changes, take a closer look at effective group work, and get some practice creating higher-order discussion and activity prompts. In addition, attendees will have time to discuss new ideas with their peers. Lunch will be served.

Friday, December 13, 9:30am-Noon
Location to be announced      [Register]