Associate Professor Gavin Brockett teaches his second-year Introduction to Muslim Studies course at Laurier’s Waterloo campus and at Sehir University in Turkey — at the same time.
Using videoconferencing technology to link classrooms, students from both parts of the world can participate in large group discussions and presentations, and can see each other at all times. Students also interact through online discussion, often on Facebook and in chat groups.
“With the emphasis on internationalization of our student body, and the costs and obstacles of students going abroad, an alternative is to bring them into direct contact with their peers in another country,” said Brockett.
Brockett’s class is one of several taught in Laurier’s Active Learning Classroom (ALC), which promotes a more exciting learning experience. Rather than rows of chairs, the classroom has 5 round tables that seat 8 students each, and features a dedicated laptop, 6 projectors and walls lined with projector screens and portable whiteboards.
Brockett was named a 2014/15 Laurier Teaching Fellow in recognition of his innovative teaching methods. His approach and the ALC were also featured in The Globe and Mail’s 2014 University Report in a section called “What universities are doing to create a more exciting learning experience.”
The outcomes and benefits of Brockett’s course are featured on Contact North, a resource for postsecondary educators in Ontario to find the latest information on new technology in online learning, and how to integrate technology in their teaching. They included students being engaged with the learning process, content and interactions, and taking responsibility for their own learning and supporting their peers.
“They are working a great deal harder and so am I,” Brockett says in the University Report. “The result is that they are happy and learning, and I am happy because I can see the learning.”