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​NTU flips classrooms with The Hive

Published on: 20-Oct-2015

NTU will spend $75 million to implement the new flipped classroom model for half of its courses within five years
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has launched The Hive, the centrepiece of its new learning pedagogy known as the flipped classroom. In this new model of learning, students access course content on their own and the face time with professors in class is devoted to team-based learning.
NTU targets to convert at least 150 courses in the first year, with a third of them already completed. About 1,500 courses will be converted within five years using this new pedagogy. It will spend about $75 million implementing this new approach to learning.
Designed to support this new way of learning, The Hive has done away with traditional classroom layouts with its 56 curvilinear smart classrooms that are equipped with the latest technologies. NTU has in the last three years converted most of its tutorial rooms into smart classrooms. A second learning hub with more smart classrooms is being built and will be ready by 2017.
Professor Bertil Andersson, NTU President, said, “In education, we are going from Gutenberg to Google and the next-generation professor is Professor iPad or Professor Smartphone. Digital devices and online media have changed the way the young acquire knowledge. The Hive will reinvent the learning experience and also create a unique social space for students from all disciplines to interact.”
The Hive was officially opened this morning by Mr Ong Ye Kung, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills).
Designed by top UK designer Thomas Heatherwick, the man behind the London Olympic Cauldron, The Hive will support NTU’s ambitions in pushing the frontiers of innovation in learning and sustainable building design.
“This is a university building like no other. It defies the norms of traditional university buildings and redefines them with its iconic shape and unusual use of space. Within its iconic shape and classroom structure lies the future of learning in Singapore,” said Professor Andersson.

Designed for the education of millennials
This iconic building, which has attracted a lot of international buzz as a new-age university building, is designed to facilitate collaborative learning and enhance student interaction. This is part of NTU Education, the university’s blueprint for preparing students with skills that will give them a competitive edge in the 21st century workplace.
NTU has been moving away from the typical lecture-tutorial format towards the flipped classroom model. Students get their course content online or through their smart devices before they attend lessons held in these smart classrooms where they tackle various questions in groups of five or six.
The smart classrooms come with flexible clustered seating, multiple LCD screens and wireless communication tools to facilitate small group discussions. Here students discuss and debate their ideas in their group before sharing and presenting them with the rest of the class.
Professor Kam Chan Hin, Senior Associate Provost (Undergraduate Education), said, “The Hive is designed to support new approaches in learning which centre on peer interaction and discussion in team-based learning. This prepares our students for future careers where they need to work in teams and where solutions to problems are not usually in black or white. 
“Leveraging technology, such blended learning methods will allow our students to acquire knowledge better, be more motivated in their learning and also, more importantly, learn how to learn. The ability to take learning into their own hands is an invaluable skill that will stay with our students even after they graduate.”
Final-year business and accountancy student Elysia Tan, 22, enjoys the liveliness of the classes that she has attended at The Hive.
“Doing away with the standard lectures and working in smaller groups really inject in me that excitement of coming to class. The flipped classroom allows us to spend more time interacting and exchanging ideas and concepts with our classmates and professors and that really helps in our understanding of the subject.”

Abuzz with activity
Apart from classes, NTU intends to hold regular events throughout the academic year at The Hive, such as talks, workshops, hackathons, debates, film screenings and performances.
Associate Professor Kwok Kian Woon, Associate Provost (Student Life), said, “The Hive is an extension of NTU’s vibrant and diverse campus environment where the student learning experience goes beyond the formal curriculum.
“A place the students can call their own, it is designed to encourage interaction amongst students from various disciplines and provides opportunities for them to develop important life skills such as leadership and intercultural competence.”
The Hive is also the home ground of student-managed social enterprises that promote the spirit of voluntarism and social entrepreneurship, such as the Co-op café which serves healthy and affordable food.
It has a library that offers a broad-based Discovery Collection with a treasure trove of 11,000 video titles and 1,200 books that will eventually grow to about 5,000. With Wi-Fi connection throughout the building, these materials can be easily streamed to students’ mobile devices.
For Chiang Wei Qiang, 22, the Library Outpost is now his favourite hangout spot. The second-year student, who is also the President of the Cultural Activities Club, said, “This library is unique as it breaks away from the regular library spaces with its extensive movie collection which even includes a wide range of foreign movies. It shows universities aren’t just about studying; they should also be about learning new things such as discovering new cultures and having fun at it."
Just outside the Outpost is the Automatic Reserves Machine – an automated book dispensing machine. Students can return and even borrow reserved books on their own using this robotic system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
NTU's Language and Communication Centre runs the Communication Cube at this learning hub where senior undergraduates and postgraduate students give students one-to-one personal advice and coaching in communication.

Designed for education, built for the environment
The Hive is designed with environment-friendly features, in line with NTU’s sustainability principles, its focus on sustainability research and its ambition to achieve a 35 per cent reduction in energy, water and waste by 2020 under its EcoCampus initiative.
Even before it was ready, The Hive was awarded the Green Mark Platinum in 2013 – the highest award for sustainable building design in Singapore from the Building and Construction Authority.
One of the building’s innovative green features is its unique air-conditioning system. It comes with special metal coils with cold water flowing through them. This cools the wind that enters classrooms and removes hot air quickly through convection.
Lined with lush greenery, the building also reduces solar glare and heat. Its inverted shape enables the upper floors to shade the lower levels, further cooling the interior.
Other energy-saving features include energy-efficient light and motion sensors in classrooms, toilets and staircases.

Last year, NTU set up the Centre for Research and Development in Learning (CRADLE) to raise the quality of research-informed teaching in higher education and to fill the void in research on the best learning practices in Singapore’s tertiary education landscape. This includes driving strategies that facilitate meaningful learning amongst today’s digital natives.

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The Hive by the numbers 
Site area:                        2,000 square metres
Gross floor area:              15,000 square metres (approx)
Building height:                8 storeys
Construction started:        August 2012
Construction completed:   March 2015

Media contact: 
Nur Amin Shah
Assistant Manager (Media Relations)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: 6790-4714

About Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).
A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.
The University’s main Yunnan Garden campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
For more information, visit

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