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Steelcase Education Grant creates new opportunities in Ohio State classrooms

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Ohio State offers a range of art, athletic and academic opportunities for college students. As a recipient of the Steelcase Education’s inaugural Active Learning Center Grant, OSU will now offer another opportunity in its new Active Learning Classroom in Hagerty Hall, which opened in early September.

Steelcase’s grant allows recipients who demonstrate creative-learning use in classrooms to further transform physical classroom spaces into areas where smarter, more active learning spaces can exist, according to its website. The company combines furniture and architecture to “unlock human promise and support social, economic and environmental sustainability.”

“Our goal is to advance the understanding of active learning with institutions that share our passion,” said Craig Wilson, director of market development at Steelcase. “We believe that the Active Learning Classroom will free the instructors from constraints imposed by static classrooms and allow students to move freely between different modes to collaborate with one another and enjoy the experience.”

Hagerty Hall, where the new classroom is located, also houses a similar room called “The Space,” which is a Steelcase digital collaborative classroom. As stated in the grant, The Space has made an impact with facilitating small group work and sharing among students.

Diane Birckbichler, director of the CLLC, spoke about the benefits an innovative classroom can have on teaching.

“We have a lot of experience innovating in foreign language. One of the things we found that we liked best about the classroom is how it transforms your teaching practice,” Birckbichler said. “It is no longer a static classroom, but one that has maximum flexibility.”

As stated in the grant, the classroom allows for four modes: lecture, group, discussion and distance learning.

Rebecca Bias, assistant director of the CLLC, said there are advantages to configuring the room.

“Given the limited amount of time we have students in the classroom, we want to maximize that time with them in the immersion situation and enable them to use their own creativity and imagination to move into different groups and work collaboratively on projects,” Bias said.

Bias said this is one of the best ways to help students reach their goals in the realm of language learning.

The new Active Learning Classroom is currently home to classes in film, foreign language, literature and culture.

“When we set up the first classroom, people asked if anyone will use it. We told them it’s like the field of dreams: If you build it, they will come, and instructors have come,” Birckbickler said. “It totally transformed the way we look at how we teach, and I think that will also happen in the active learning center — that people will see the possibilities.”

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