The Space

This image depicts a panorama of FYW's Active Learning Center (ALC). The ALC is a classroom with mobile technologies, such as handheld whiteboards and tables/chairs on casters. Technologies such as SMART boards, LCD screens, blackboards, and whiteboards hang on the walls.


The Active Learning Center (ALC) features innovative furniture and technologies that help make writing an active and collaborative process.

Flexible Furniture


The ALC is designed to be flexible and modular, so that the space can be redesigned for multiple purposes. Click on the image below to access an editable floor plan of the room for download. You can use this map to plan out how you might want to set up the room for certain activities.

A floor plan of the Active Learning Center. The room is arranged differently than conventional classrooms. Instead of rows of desks facing the front of the room, chairs, tables, and sofas are arranged in groups so that students can collaborate with each other on activities.

Most of the furniture in the ALC is on casters, meaning you can easily wheel almost everything in the room into new configurations, before or during class sessions; casters can then be locked in place as needed.

Desk chair


Long table

A few objects (such as the "clover" tables and couches) don't have wheels, but are light enough to be easily moved.

Some objects are not designed to move at all—the cubbies, supply shelf, tall table, and TV table are not designed to easily move, and you should consult with the FYW staff before attempting to rearrange them.

Some of the room's furniture is height-adjustable. The trapezoidal "group table," the "elevator table," and all the chairs that go with these tables can be set to different heights.

Elevator table

Display Screens

The ALC features five screens that instructors can use in a variety of ways:

  • 2 large monitors
  • 1 SMART board
  • 1 whiteboard projector
  • 1 active media table


The monitors are just like large computer screens. They are controlled by the console in the corner of the room. They can show the same display or separate displays, depending on instructor needs. Each monitor can also show displays from laptops and mobile devices via wePresent.

SMART board

SMART board

The SMART board functions like the monitors (above), but has the added benefit of a smart display — that is, using the digital markers that come with the board, users can annotate slides or documents projected on the board. The board also functions as a touch screen, allowing users to navigate projected pages with their bodies.

Whiteboard Projector

The whiteboard projector is essentially a projected monitor. It can mirror other screens or show its own display. Because the projection overlays a whiteboard, people can write/draw on the "screen" with dry-erase markers. Like other monitors, users can project from devices with wePresent.

Active Media Table

The active media table (or "TV table") features a miniature monitor that can be raised from the table's surface at the touch of a button. Combined with wePresent, the active media table is a great place for students to collaborate on a digital media project.

Instructional Tools

The ALC features several unique instructional tools that might at first seem "low-tech," but which open up a wide array of learning opportunities.


The blackboard is large enough that most of the class can work on it simultaneously. You can write on the board using liquid chalk, which can be erased with a special fluid that can be found in the supply closet. The board is magnetic, which allows users to stick notes to it. Chalk and magnets can be combined to create organizational systems the entire class builds together.

Personal Whiteboards

Personal whiteboard

Sixteen personal whiteboards hang on the wall near the whiteboard projector (see under "display screens," above). The personal whiteboards allow students, alone or in groups, ready access to a basic and reusable writing technology. The boards are large enough that they can easily be "presented from." They also interface with much of the furniture in the room. For example, they can be slotted upright into the long tables by rocking them into the clip at the end of the table, transforming the boards into either easels or visual dividers.

Paper Table

The round paper table's surface is made up of dozens of layers of circular pages stacked on top of each other. This means that the table is essentially a giant notepad, ideal for group brainstorming.


Power Thread
Steelcase power threads can be plugged in to outlets to extend power supply.

Power sources are located in several spaces throughout the room. Wall outlets can be found on most walls, and floor outlets are distributed across the room so that students can plug in their electronics regardless of how the space is set up. The tall table has outlets built into it and can charge devices when the table is plugged in.

In addition, the Steelcase power threads expand the flexibility of power stations. Threads can be repositioned as needed based on the configuration of the furniture so that everyone has power access. This access makes the ALC a truly digital-friendly space.

Media Technologies

Media technologies are available for check-out by First-Year Writing instructors. Some of these are limited to use in the ALC, while others can be borrowed by instructors teaching in any classroom. These technologies include iPads, digital video cameras, desk mics, iPhone microphone attachments, over-the-ear headphones, and podcast soundproofing. For questions about how to access, check out, or use these technologies, please contact the First-Year Writing office at