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Learning Studio Classrooms

UNM Learning Studio

Classroom environments designed for collaborative learning in any discipline

In the Spring of 2012, Dane Smith Hall 224 was redesigned as a 54-seat capacity studio classroom (see illustrations below). Beginning in Fall 2014, two additional studio classrooms will be available for scheduling in the new Collaborative Teaching and Learning Building, one with 63-seat capacity and one with 126-seat capacity.

The prestigious Best Buildings Awards, sponsored by the American General Contractors (AGC) of America, recently announced its 2014 AGC New Mexico’s Best Buildings Awards 2014, which included the University of New Mexico’s Collaborative Teaching and Learning Building (CTLB) in the $5 million to $10 million category.  Click here for more information on this award.

Would you like to teach in this type of classroom space? If so, read on for more information.

Choose from the following proposal forms available.


New Requests

New Submissions: Use this RFP if you meet one of the following criteria: You have not taught in a Learning Studio before or you have taught in a learning studio before but not the course you intend on teaching in this proposal request.

Returning Instructors

Returning Instructors: Use this RFP if you meet the following criteria: You have taught in a Learning Studio before and want to teach the same course again, but have not been pre-approved for more than 1 semester.

Pre-Approved

Pre-Approved Returning Instructors: Use this RFP if you meet the following criteria: You have been pre-approved to teach in a Learning Studio and you are teaching the same course in this proposal request. If you are requesting to teach a different course use “Returning Instructor” RFP or if you want to teach a new course never taught in a Learning Studio, use “New Submission” RFP.


Information Below

Contact Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) Director Aeron Haynie (277-2297; cte@unm.edu) for more information and watch this webpage for upcoming information sessions. Click here to download and complete the form to propose teaching your course in one of these three studio classrooms.


Our group provides a forum for developing, sharing and curating knowledge across mutual interests in active learning, student engagement, assessment of learning, and teaching in the learning studio environment. We welcome instructors who are planning to teach in a learning studio and all others who are interested in how teaching and learning work in these 21st century learning environments. Please contact one of the coordinators for more information- Aurora Pun, Earth and Planetary Sciences, apun@unm.edu, or Sushilla Knottenbelt, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, sknotten@unm.edu.


DSH224-1  DSH224-2

Classroom 1Features of the DSH 224 Learning Studio:

  • Six, 9-seat tables, each equipped with three, secured notebook-PC computers with a standard UNM IT software image and enhanced Wi-Fi access
  • A centrally located teacher station with CPU, SMART Podium monitor, Blu-Ray/DVD player, document camera
  • Two projection screens and LCD projectors to maximize viewing from all seats; instructor can send images from any of the students’ table computers to the main screens
  • Whiteboards on all walls to accommodate student work for discussion

Features of the CTLB 300 Learning Studio:

  • 14, 9-seat circular tables
  • A centrally located teacher station with CPU, SMART Podium monitor, Blu-Ray/DVD player, document camera
  • Two projection screens and LCD projectors to maximize viewing from all seats; instructor can send images from any of the students’ table computers to the main screens
  • Whiteboards on all walls to accommodate student work for discussion

Pending final funds availability, each student table will be:

  • Equipped with three, secured notebook-PC computers with a standard UNM IT software image and enhanced Wi-Fi access
  • Microphone
  • Connected by HDMI and VGA (plus audio) cables to adjacent wall-mounted flat-panel display

Classroom 2Features of the CTLB 330 Learning Studio:

  • 7, 9-seat circular tables
  • A centrally located teacher station with CPU, SMART Podium monitor, Blu-Ray/DVD player, document camera
  • Two projection screens and LCD monitors to maximize viewing from all seats; instructor can send images from any of the students’ table computers to the main screens
  • Whiteboards on all walls to accommodate student work for discussion

Pending final funds availability, each student table will be:

  • Equipped with three, secured notebook-PC computers with a standard UNM IT software image and enhanced Wi-Fi access
  • Connected by HDMI and VGA (plus audio) cables to adjacent wall-mounted flat-panel display

For more information about the general features of studio classrooms, check out this 2010 article in Campus Technology.

Learning studios are designed to enhance and enable collaborative learning that is centered on the students rather than the instructor. This is obvious the moment that you walk into the room – there is no “front”. The instructor works from the middle of the room, lecturing sparingly, and with easy access to all students. Provided computers enable opportunities to access online resources, use simulations and animations, and for paperless team-generated assignments to be completed and submitted for instructor assessment. While many of these functions can be accomplished to varying extents in traditionally furnished classrooms, research at other universities demonstrates much better collaboration and learning that are facilitated by the 9-seat, circular tables. Although classrooms of this type were originally designed to improve student learning in college-level science courses, they have now been introduced at more than 100 campuses and are used for teaching physics, biology, geology, management, chemistry, literature, psychology, mathematics, writing, foreign language, music, engineering, sociology …

Learning studios are not computer classrooms; they are collaborative learning classrooms. Individual computers generally support individual in-class work rather than collaboration. For many collaborative-learning exercises a computer is unnecessary and the three notebook computers can be closed and moved out of the way to the center of the table.

Research at North Carolina State University has demonstrated the ideal learning opportunities afforded by having nine students seated at each table; this model has been followed at almost all subsequent implementations of learning-studio classrooms. Instructors are encouraged to use a system of 3-person teams with 3 teams per table. Proximity of teams permits synergy to address learning challenges during exercises, so that students help to teach one another – at the University of Minnesota, a single instructor (without teaching assistants) ably manages a learning studio with as many as 126 students.

To date, more than 100 campuses have introduced these classrooms. The original learning-studio classrooms were called SCALE-UP classrooms (Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs) and were developed at North Carolina State University (NCSU) for physics instruction. NCSU maintains a website that links to a variety of resources at other institutions, too. At MIT, learning studios are called TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning); at the University of Iowa, these spaces are called TILE (spaces to Transform, Interact, Learn, Engage); at the University of Minnesota they are known as ALCs (Active Learning Classrooms). To learn more about the development and assessment of learning in studio classrooms, check out this 38-minute video from the Rice University Scientia Conference On Research and Innovation in Undergraduate Natural Science and Engineering Education.

Check out videos (links below) that show “learning in action” in learning studios along with interviews with students and faculty. Some of these examples show rooms where each student table also has access to it’s own wall-mounted, flat-screen monitor; these screens are not available in DSH224 but are planned for the new classroom in the Collaborative Teaching and Learning Building that opened in Fall 2014.

  • ALC, biology, University of Minnesota
  • TILE classrooms, many disciplines, University of Iowa
  • ALC, many disciplines, McGill University
  • SCALE-UP, psychology, Virginia Tech

CTE holds occasional Information Sessions to engage with instructors who are interested in teaching in a learning studio. Contact us at 277-2229 or cte@unm.edu for dates, times, and places.

CTE is also planning web-page resources to assist learning-studio instructors to plan and implement their courses. In the meantime, consider using these valuable resources:

Successful Teaching in Active Learning Classrooms, University of Minnesota

Student Centered versus Teacher Centered Classrooms, Considerations for Teaching, Specific Challenges, Converting Your Course, UMN Research on Active Learning Classrooms, Teaching Resources

SCALE-UP, North Carolina State University “The purpose of this website is to share designs for state-of-the-art learning studios, teaching methods, and instructional materials that are based on more than a decade of discipline-based education research.” Request website membership (see link on website) to gain access to innumerable resources.

TILE Teaching Strategies, University of Iowa

Overview, Course Design, Facilitating TILE, Assessment

Collaborative Learning, California State University – Los Angeles

Before scheduling your class in DSH 224 or the new CTLB 300 or 330, you must submit a proposal for approval. Click here to download and complete the proposal form, then submit it as an email attachment, along with other supporting materials to cte@unm.edu.