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. Now, Provost Bob Blouin has approved a master plan put forward by the Classroom Policy Steering Committee to expedite updates to many of the University’s general purpose classrooms. The Flexible Learning Spaces Initiative (FLSI) is a multi-year plan to implement these updates and help faculty, graduate instructors, and students make the most of them. Over the next five years:

  • As many as 50 general purpose classrooms will be updated, including several lecture halls.
  • New workshops and resources will be offered to support instructors using the updated spaces.
  • The faculty-led Classrooms Modernization Advisory Group will help oversee implementation of the initiative.
These images from Genome Sciences Building 1374 illustrate three possible configurations of the same space. Instructors and students can flexibly arrange the furniture to best serve course objectives.

You’re Invited!

We hope that you will join for some of these upcoming events related to the Flexible Learning Spaces Initative.

Flexible Learning Spaces Open Houses

Visit one of our recently renovated classrooms at one of our upcoming open houses! Stop by and chat with instructors who have taught in these spaces, as well as instructional support staff from several campus organizations. These casual events are a great opportunity to get familiar with the new spaces and get inspired about ways you and your students can benefit.

Fall schedule to be announced soon. 

 

Workshop Series: Making the Most of Flexible Classrooms

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.

Fall schedule to be announced soon. 

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.

Fall schedule to be announced soon. 

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.

Fall schedule to be announced soon. 

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.

Fall schedule to be announced soon.