While everyone wants to take full advantage of the space they teach in, sometimes figuring out new options can be overwhelming. Taking a few steps in the weeks before the beginning of the term can make a difference in how comfortable and effective you and your students are through the term.

Begin by reviewing the learning objectives for the course and identify any changes you want to make in how each class session is utilized. Perhaps there are a couple of sessions where additional or different activities could make the material more engaging. While reviewing the content planned, research possible ideas. A new resource is ISS’ Active Learning Framework, a collection of information on our website that focuses on making the student experience “active” and engaging. This collection includes a list of activities and correlating definitions and examples, which may help you quickly identify ways students can apply the content they are learning.

Secondly, consider changing the furniture layout for a specific session to foster interaction and enable students to complete group or team activities. Although it may take time to move the furniture back to its standard location, using the doc camera to show students how to arrange their seats and then how the room should look before they leave could make the process easier.

Finally, learn about the space in which you will be teaching. A great resource for finding out basic information like the type of podium or other technology in the room, the number of seats, the type of window treatments is the MClassroom Database, which offers information about every classroom on campus. Identify any points of confusion or instances where a chronic problem, such as showing a media clip from a physical disc, takes extra time and doesn’t work reliably. Look for opportunities to use tools you may not have used in the past, such as annotating slides using the Wacom tablet in the podium. Perhaps adding a tool like a PowerPoint remote or presenter could increase your mobility during a lecture.

In addition to the classroom database, the ISS TAG team (734.615.0100) offers one-on-one room trainings by appointment. These sessions can provide one-on-one instruction on how to use the equipment in the room or offer an opportunity to do a “dry run” of a session you revised before the actual class.