Spotlights and News

Keep checking back to this page for the latest cool projects, pedagogical innovations, and excellence in teaching. Know someone (including YOU!) or something that we should feature next? Get in contact via an email to ATOL. Want to to see past newsletters? Click here for our archive.




Rethink. Innovate. Learn.

Over the past summer and fall, we worked with faculty and other departments on campus to develop an innovative, modern, and modular classroom to spark conversations and experiments with active learning. Come explore the Learning Lab in Science 1206 and transform your teaching today. Contact ATOL or drop by during our open office hours listed later in this email. 

Features of the Learning Lab

  • Walls filled with whiteboards
  • 4 Large-screen displays (1 per wall)
  • Modular tables and seating (reconfigure the classroom on the fly!)
  • Seating for up to 24 students
  • Webcam + Document Camera + Room Microphones for great experiences with Zoom
  • No "front-of-the-room" for a unique teaching experience
  • Daily office hours and 1:1 trainings with ATOL Staff

Experiencing the Learning Lab

Q&A with Shelly Richardson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Social Work

Shelly In Learning Lab

Why did you want to use the Learning Lab (Science 1206) for your class?

The first attractive quality was Jane Sims' excitement, experience, passion and research on the interaction with students and technology to engage in learning. Jane, Amy, Meg, and Eric made sure I was trained on the room, the hardware and the software. Jane and Amy trained me on active learning techniques to scaffold learning in this setting, Meg was on call during my class times if there was any back up needed, Eric came into the class and provided technical support (particularly for Mac users) and also taught us tricks for using Google Drive and storing Zoom videos.   

I teach face to face classes in research and policy. These are classes that can seem dry to students based on the course description. All of my classes are hybrid and I use a flipped classroom approach to teaching. The active learning classroom was a natural fit to my approach. My students are starting to fall into the Generation Z category and need to be aware of how to use technology to interact with each other and the world as this will be the expectation when they are in the field. I want to make the classroom experience as interesting and as applicable as possible for them.

What benefits are there to having a modular teaching space like the Learning Lab?

In other classrooms I do not have space to write on boards when I use technology on the projector, the tables and chairs are hard to move around in other classrooms to create a small group learning environment, and I have to interrupt groups constantly to gauge where they are at. In the Learning Lab, I am on my feet interacting with students constantly because I can physically see where they are at by examining their white boards, laptops, or TV screens from across the room. I can intervene at the teachable moments instead of interrupting the learning process.

What advice would you give to instructors who want to teach in spaces like the Learning Lab?

Meet with someone from the Academic Technology Team first, they will listen and provide you with great ideas and examples. Know that you are not alone if you choose to use the Learning Lab. The team will give you ideas that have the potential to amp up to something you never thought possible. In my case, I would call it "mind blowing."

How do you see spaces like the Learning Lab changing your style of teaching?

My time with the students is more efficient and effective, which gives it more value. I am interacting the entire time in the classroom, interjecting at critical moments of the student’s processing, and promoting the concept of "learning by doing" with technology.

What is the student's response to learning in the Learning Lab?

After every class they tell me how much the love the space, the technology and they want it every class session. Having been in our assigned room and the Learning Lab, they groan when I tell them we will be meeting in our assigned room.

Anything else you'd like to add?

This space would not have the same impact on my teaching and the students learning without the support, enthusiasm, and knowledge of Jane, Amy, Meg and Eric. It is only through their efforts the room, teaching skills, and student’s learning come to life through technology. I am with my students, I don’t ever want to go back to the ‘standard’ classroom.

graphic showing the office hours of the Academic Technology office

Join a Learning Community on Flipped and Active Learning.

Join your peers in discussing strategies for flipping your class and incorporating active learning techniques into the time that your students meet together. Research on flipped and active learning will be shared, and collaborations for CSS research are encouraged. Bring your ideas and questions on how to use these strategies in your classroom to engage and involve students in their learning endeavors, whether face-to-face or online. As Terry Boyle, who applies cognitive science and neuroscience to teaching and learning, notes: The one who does the work, does the learning!  

Join us Monday, Nov 27th from noon to 1 in the Learning Lab (Science 1206) or by Zoom at Bring your lunch!

If you have questions, please contact us at

Active Learning Resources from the POD Network Conference, Oct 2017

Check out the linked resources below for great exposure to some of the current research surrounding active learning.

It's Distance Learning Week!  
Learn more about the growth and impact of distance learning with these infographics.

1. The Changing Face of Online Learners
The Online Learning Imperative

a 5 by 2 grid of round black and white profile pictures of the Academic Technology Steering Committee members

An Update from the Academic Technology Steering Committee

The Academic Technology Steering Committee includes members from each School, GEO, the Academic Technology Team and the Student Senate. We each provide a voice in shared priority setting for online, blended and traditional learning at CSS.

Our mission includes:
  • Selection, deployment and adoption of academic technologies, including new initiatives
  • Teaching support and training for technology-enhanced instruction 
  • Centralized coordination that balances standardization and efficiency with flexibility for emerging, decentralized academic needs
  • Communication channel between Academic Technology and CSS academic community 
So far this year, we've worked to develop an experimental classroom (the Learning Lab mentioned in this newsletter), improvements in faculty training and access to technology, and a variety of initiatives to improve the overall academic technology experience across all the campuses and schools. Please feel free to reach out to your representative listed below if you have ideas, suggestions, or comments!


Craig Bridges, GEO  -   Donna Kirk, Sciences  -   
Gail Gaetz, Education   -   Mary Ann Marchel, Health Sciences  -   
Melissa Goodson, Business & Technology  -   Monica Boyer, Student Senate  -   
Robert Larson, Arts & Letters  -   Shelly Barlass, Nursing  -   
Amy Nelson, AT  -   Eric Mistry, AT  -   
Jane Sims, AT  -   Nikki Schutte, AT  -   

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