In 2015, Indiana University launched the Mosaic Initiative to support faculty teaching in active learning spaces. As Mosaic celebrates its fifth anniversary this month, the initiative continues its mission of supporting collaborative learning through diverse, flexible, and technology-rich environments.
Stacy Morrone, interim dean of the IU School of Education and IU’s deputy CIO, reflected on Mosaic’s first five years. “When we created the Mosaic Active Learning Initiative five years ago, we could not have imagined the impact it has had at Indiana University and beyond,” Morrone said.
“We now have a thriving community of more than 100 Mosaic Faculty Fellows and more than 60 Mosaic active learning classrooms across IU. We are delighted that Mosaic has become a well-respected national model for active learning programs across higher education,” she said.
Exploring active learning
The Faculty Fellows program is crucial to Mosaic’s mission. Each year, faculty members are chosen from a pool of applicants to spend two semesters researching and sharing their experiences with active learning classrooms.
“To say I am a fan of the Mosaic Initiative would be an understatement,” said Kevin Jones, associate professor of management at IU-Purdue University Columbus. Jones was one of the second cohort of IUPUI Mosaic Fellows, and his experience in the Fellows program inspired a commitment to ensuring that students are active participants in the learning process.
IU’s Mosaic Initiative planted a seed … Tracey Birdwell’s collegial mentorship was invaluable, providing our team with a sounding board to bounce ideas off of and glean lessons learned.
Sam Shields, Center for Teaching Excellence, Texas A&M
“I’ve been able to unleash a variety of instructional actions, such as design thinking, to enable students to engage in critical thinking and problem solving,” Jones said. “Most importantly, beyond learning content, by using an active learning framework, our students are able to apply their learning in simulated ‘real world’ contexts.”
The program had a profound impact on Kalani Craig, assistant professor of history at IU Bloomington and one of the inaugural Mosaic Fellows.
“My experience with Mosaic has shaped almost everything I’ve done since my fellowship year, teaching, research and service alike,” Craig said. “I think about space and how it affects everything now, and that was never more helpful than in March, when we had to start thinking about how to teach and do research in virtual spaces that were different from person to person.”
In just a few short years, the Mosaic Initiative gained an audience far beyond IU’s campuses. The Mosaic blog, curated by program director Tracey Birdwell, gives members of the IU community a space to discuss their experiences, share recommendations, and archive resources related to teaching and supporting faculty in active learning classrooms.
While 40 percent of the blog’s readership is within Indiana, analytics show readers representing 49 states and 102 countries, evidence of the widespread interest in active learning classrooms.
We are delighted that Mosaic has become a well-respected national model for active learning programs across higher education.
Stacy Morrone, interim dean of the IU School of Education and deputy CIO
“The blog’s international readership reflects the Mosaic Initiative’s broad reach across higher education,” Birdwell said. “This month alone I’m speaking with colleagues from Sweden, Canada, and Mexico, as well as U.S. institutions, about our active learning program, our Mosaic rooms, and our research.”
Closer to home, Birdwell and Mosaic were influential in Texas A&M’s classroom planning. “IU’s Mosaic Initiative planted a seed, providing our new active learning classroom building faculty development team with a model to guide our work,” said Sam Shields, instructional consultant in the Center for Teaching Excellence at Texas A&M. “Tracey Birdwell’s collegial mentorship was invaluable, providing our team with a sounding board to bounce ideas off of and glean lessons learned.”
From feedback to design
As part of the Fellows program, faculty contribute to the development of IU’s learning spaces. Each year, the design symposium gathers instructors from various disciplines and campuses to collaborate on classroom design ideas. Following the day-long workshop, Mosaic shares faculty ideas with IU’s Learning Spaces design team for future classroom design decisions.
The Mosaic blog draws readers from 49 states and 102 countries, evidence of the widespread interest in active learning classrooms.
IUPUI’s newest classroom building, Innovation Hall, incorporated both faculty feedback and ideas from similar student design symposiums to inform its design. The showcase in the new building is the Collaboration Theater, a football-shaped classroom with two curved LED video walls measuring 22 feet wide and 6 feet tall, and swivel chairs to encourage collaboration and conversation.
Mosaic’s first five years have seen growth, innovation, and collaboration beyond what the initiative’s leaders could have imagined. Birdwell is understandably proud of what Mosaic has accomplished, and what lies ahead. “People in higher ed know the Mosaic Initiative is a leader in this field—they want to know what we’re doing now and what we plan to do next.”