Last summer, Todd Shelton, lecturer in Media Arts and Science (MAS) at the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, learned he had been selected as an IU Mosaic Faculty Fellow for the 2018-19 school year. Shelton applied because of his interest in active learning and different ways he could engage the students. He had already experimented with the Lightboard in his online classes and wanted to add more engagement to his classes.
Fellows who take part in the Mosaic Initiative active learning classroom learn new ways to teach through reading, research, and monthly meetings with a cohort of other Fellows. Shelton said that each time they gathered in a new room, they were asked, “What would you do with this?” The objective was for participants to compare lecture (didactic) approaches with interactive approaches that promote more active learning and to bring back and implement ideas in their own classrooms, he said.
Active learning classrooms can transform dynamics between and among teachers and students and allow more accessible and egalitarian communication.
Instructional strategies can include high tech, but don’t necessarily exclude low tech, Shelton said. Some options the Fellows experienced included moveable furniture like desks and pods, moveable whiteboards, screen sharing and huge monitors, and Zoom meetings with large cameras and microphones. Shelton mentioned observing large lecture halls equipped with rotating chairs that permitted a change in layout as another example of how to leverage classroom space.
On completion of the program, the Fellows are given a stipend to enhance their own teaching through conference travel and research. Seniors, who are alumni of the Mosaic Faculty Fellows program, are invited back to talk to new entering cohort classes, receive email updates on new research into active learning, and receive support from the Mosaic community. There is also an annual Mosaic Symposium.
Shelton, who is teaching introduction to mobile applications and intermediate web design this summer, said that his involvement with Mosaic has changed the way he thinks. “I didn’t realize it would be so engaging or how getting students to be more active in class with hands-on or group activities could increase their learning outcomes,” he added.