Ball State University established the Interactive Learning Space Initiative with the purpose of strengthening learning though active learning pedagogy supported by learning space design and technology.

Pedagogy + Space


The purpose of Interactive Learning Space Initiative is to support pedagogy that moves away from the traditional lecture based course to an engaged learning course. In this environment, the course focus moves from content to application and support the implementation of active learning methodologies such as, but not limited to, Inquiry Based Learning, Team Based Learning, and Problem Based Learning. The intent is for the majority of content dissemination to occur outside of the class meeting time allowing the students to actively engage in the application of course content during class time. This type of learning prepares graduates to live and work in a world that requires collaboration and problem solving.

Learning Space 

The Interactive Learning Spaces foster learner engagement through the use of interactive whiteboards and smaller, portable whiteboards placed throughout the spaces to be used for notation of ideas as well as projection from various sources (i.e. instructor and student laptops) for viewing by the entire class. In addition, both learning spaces are equipped with Apple TV allowing instructors and students to project from Apple devices.

The type and arrangement of furnishings support student collaboration.  Replacing the traditional rows of desks with a variety of configuration possibilities allows students to see each other augmenting peer-to-peer interaction.  The instructor podium is placed within the space and reduced in size to support a facilitator, rather than lecturer, role.  TC 412 and TC414 support a maximum enrollment of 24 students (see floor plan).  

One classroom space (TC 414) has four media:scapes each seating six students with a large monitor display attached to one end (view media:scape animation).  The other space (TC 412) has 24 node chairs allowing multiple classroom arrangements to better facilitate small and large group interaction (view node chair animation). 

 TC 414 Media:scape                                    TC 412 Node

Three additional spaces have been renovated and in use beginning fall of 2015 in order to expand the initiative to additional buildings and class sizes. TC 411, the smallest ILS, supports class sizes of up to 18 students. BB 109 accommodates enrollments of up to 76 students and RB 109 serves classes of up to 36 students. 

TC 411, TC 412 and TC 414 serve as intake rooms for this initiative. Once a faculty member has completed the initial experience as in the initiative, he/she is eligible to teach in one of the additional spaces during future semesters.

View Steelcase LearnLab – Design Story for a discussion of the research and resulting implementation of this type of interactive learning environment.

Scholarship Component of the Initiative

An additional element of this initiative is the pursuit to study how pedagogy, learning spaces, and technology impact student learning. ILS faculty members are expected to participate in scholarship. This can be done individually, with another ILS faculty member, and/or as part of a large research study conducted by OEE.

The ultimate intent of the Interactive Learning Space Initiative is to replicate best practices for redesign of other spaces throughout the university keeping in mind how we can better support engaged learning pedagogy by transforming learning spaces.

Application to Teach in Interactive Learning Spaces

Faculty interested in teaching in one of the Interactive Learning Spaces must complete an Interactive Learning Space Teaching and Research Opportunity Application.  Applications are accepted during the beginning to middle of the spring semester. Go to the Interactive Learning Space Initiative- Application webpage for a detailed description as well as a link to the 2018-19application. 

Twenty-eight faculty representing 18 departments from all colleges including Honors College and the Intensive English Institute were selected to participate in the Interactive Learning Space Initiative for AY 2012-2013 (Cohort 1).  The second cohort--those faculty selected to participate during AY 2013-2014--represent 13 departments from five colleges and the Intensive English Institute.  Cohort 3--those faculty teaching in the ILS classrooms spring and fall 2015--represent 12 departments from 6 colleges and the Intensive English Institute. 28 faculty joined Cohort 4 (AY2015-2016) representing 17 departments from 6 colleges. Cohort 5, comprised of 16 faculty from 14 departments and 3 colleges, joined the initiative in 2016. In Spring 2017, Cohort 6, 20 faculty from 15 departments and 5 colleges, joined the initiative. A complete list of the ILS faculty can be found on the Interactive Learning Space Initiative Faculty webpage.

ILS in the News:

Room to Experiment, Inside Higher Ed
Transformers:  Building an Active Learning Faculty, Campus Technology
A Swivel Chair:  The Most Important Classroom Technology?, US News & World Report

Research by Steelcase:

node: Keeping Pace with Active Learning – University of Michigan Case Study 
Midterm Review: Colleges put Steelcase LearnLab™ environments to the test  

Other Institutions with Similar Programs:

The University of Iowa – TILE 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology – TEAL Project
The University of Minnesota – Active Learning Classroom 
North Carolina State University – SCALE-UP