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“Best engineering students, ever!”

Gathered in a large circle around two whiteboards, eight engineering students prepared for the upcoming Linear Algebra test.  Clayton, Adonis, Aaron, Nick, Richard, Taylor, Teo and Katie are all bio-medical engineering students, some in the Mechanical steam and some in the Electronics stream.

“After two hours, we almost understand material I’ve never understood before”.

With no TA in sight, this self-formed group had found a way to help themselves, through helping each other.  One (or more) were writing on the whiteboards, with the some of the rest calling out what to do, and a couple others in a quiet aside discussing a particular aspect.

For those instructors who are perhaps a little tired of new teaching methods seemingly always centred around the use of high technology, the scene reminds us that Active Learning unfolds both in formal and informal learning spaces, and with technology as simple as a large, visible, shared writing space.  For these students,   “Whiteboards are the best!”

As I leave, Clayton calls out, “I want to do a question where we have to prove linear independence of a non-square matrix”.