International Forum on Active Learning Classrooms

High-tech classroom with students and teachers laughing

The 2017 International Forum on Active Learning Classrooms (IF-ALC) at the University of Minnesota focuses on advancing practice and research on active learning classroom spaces. The IF-ALC features session formats (see the Submission Guidelines) are designed to provide opportunities for participants to demonstrate innovative practices and research that leverage the advantages of technology-enhanced learning spaces and active learning pedagogies.

Formerly known as the National Forum on Active Learning Classrooms, the IF-ALC significantly expanded its reach to international institutions over the years since the inaugural conference in 2011. We enthusiastically invite our international colleagues to present at or attend the Forum this year. Our goal is for all participants to: a) examine issues influencing the effective use of these spaces, b) share successful practices that enrich the student and faculty experience, and c) build and deepen networks with colleagues to advance your campus efforts. 

Sponsored by

Office of Undergraduate Education, University of Minnesota

Center for Educational Innovation, University of Minnesota

Location, Accommodations and Getting Here


Founded in 1851 as the state’s land-grant institution, the University of Minnesota is one of the most comprehensive universities in the United States. Located in the heart of the Minneapolis/Saint Paul metropolitan area, the campus is minutes from downtown Minneapolis. The Twin Cities campus is situated along the banks of the Mississippi River and on the rolling hills of Saint Paul.

Most conference meetings and presentations will take place in Robert Bruininks Hall on the University of Minnesota campus. Opened in fall 2010, Bruininks Hall features 14 active learning spaces that can accommodate class sizes of 27 to 171 students along with lecture-based spaces that seat 236 students. A wide variety of disciplines conduct their courses in this building each year, and it continues to serve as a model space for the design of a 21st century education.


Graduate Minneapolis (formerly The Commons Hotel)
615 Washington Avenue SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
800-822-6787 or 612-379-8888

A group room block will be arranged with Graduate Minneapolis. Conveniently located on the University of Minnesota campus with a five-minute walk to the forum locations, The Graduate offers guests an on-site fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment, book butler, in-room art galleries, alchemist mixology lessons, and complimentary transportation within a five-mile radius of the hotel. The hotel is three minutes from downtown Minneapolis and provides easy access to several local attractions. 

Getting Here

In addition to taxis and car service, here are some other transportation options:

Light Rail

Light-rail service is available to the Graduate Minneapolis from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. From the airport take the Minneapolis/Target Field Blue Line to the US Bank Stadium Station, then transfer to the Saint Paul/Union Depot Green Line and, after a short five-minute ride, exit at the East Bank Station. The East Bank Station is across the street from Graduate Minneapolis. Trains operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and run approximately every 10−15 minutes. The trip from the airport to the East Bank Station generally takes 35−45 minutes. One-way fare is $2.00−$2.50 depending on time of day. View information and route map.

Travelers can find metro bus route information on the Metro Transit website.


Metro Transit also provides bus service to many areas throughout the Twin Cities. For information on schedules, maps, and fares, please visit the Metro Transit website.


SuperShuttle offers convenient shuttle service to area locations. Call 800-BlueVan or visit the SuperShuttle website to reserve your transportation.

2017 Featured Speakers 

Opening Night Speaker

Robert McMaster is professor of geography and vice-provost and dean for undergraduate education at the University of Minnesota. Bob is both an accomplished scholar in the field of cartography and a sound administrator who has led the campus effort to record highs in graduation rates and first-year retention of undergraduate students. He is a strong proponent of the value of ALCs on campus, particularly for STEM education, and his office has served as a sponsor of the Forum since its inception in 2011.

Keynote Speaker

Adam Finkelstein is an educational developer in Teaching and Learning Services at McGill University in Quebec, Canada. He is deeply involved in learning space development and learning technologies at McGill and is a sought-after national and international speaker on teaching in active learning classrooms. Adam’s ongoing work involves designing innovative physical and virtual learning spaces, and he contributes regularly to academic literature through peer-reviewed publications.

Plenary Speaker

D. Christopher Brooks, PhD, is the Interim Director of Research for the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research, managing their research portfolio and is a PI on numerous ECAR research projects. Prior to joining ECAR, Christopher served as a Research Associate in the Office of Information Technology at the University of Minnesota. He is a prolific researcher and coedited the 2014 New Directions for Teaching and Learning volume on Active Learning Spaces and also has a coauthored book, A Guide to Teaching in the Active Learning Classrooms (2016).

The Year of the ALC

Twenty-five years after the creation of the first active learning classroom (ALC), these innovative spaces are on the verge of becoming mainstream at colleges and universities around the world. At this critical juncture, we pause to consider the structural forces that produced an environment hospitable to ALCs, the evidence that has supported their global proliferation and adoption, and the future roles of ALCs in higher education.

Closing Address

Robin Wright is professor and head of the Department of Biology Teaching and Learning in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Her current research centers on scientific teaching, faculty development, and student learning in active learning classrooms (ALC). She has been a recipient of an HHMI Undergraduate Science Education Grant and is a regular presenter on active learning classrooms on the national scene. Robin is widely regarded as the authoritative voice on teaching in ALCs on the University of Minnesota campus.

Past, Present, And Future: Active Learning Classrooms as Catalysts for Evidence-Based Teaching
Almost twenty years have passed since the Boyer Report called on research universities to improve the quality of undergraduate education. Since then, the state of the classroom has profoundly improved for hundreds of thousands of undergraduates at institutions both large and small. A major part of that catalysis has been the emergence of a critical enabler of evidence-based teaching: the active learning classroom. We’ll briefly review life in the classroom before active learning classrooms and contrast it to life in today’s ALCs. We’ll then explore together what the future may hold and how we can support the evolution of active learning classrooms.

Steering Committee

David Langley (Chair), Center for Educational Innovation
Paul Baepler, Center for Educational Innovation
John Knowles, Office of Classroom Management
Robin Wright, College of Biological Sciences

Contact Us

For registration questions
Christine Preston | 612-624-4754 
Kristi Fischer | 612-625-4265

For program questions
David Langley
612-625-3343 |