Classroom of the Future

Closing out the month of One Post a Day … its been a crazy experience that was even more complicated this time than when I did it back in August. It was well worth it however and I want to acknowledge those who went along for the challenge with me — Allan, Brad, Erin in ETS and several of the students in the Schreyer Honors College as well. All of the PSU One Post a Days can be seen in a tag aggregation at the Blogs at PSU.

With that said, I’d still like to explore an idea …

My colleague Allan Gyorke is leading a group looking at informal learning spaces on campus and they are doing some interesting work exploring spaces that are outside of our classrooms. With that in mind I wanted to ask what our classrooms should look like in higher education to embrace the future. I have a few ideas, but would love to hear more.

One thing I really think we should do is design a classroom that can project two sources to two different screens. This would allow faculty to teach with supporting content as they do now (typically PowerPoint, Keynote, or a web page), but would also engage in bringing the back channel to the front. I’ve done presentations and taught with a Twitter stream of a specific hashtag running behind me and it completely changes the dynamic of the room. For the most part our students have technology at their fingertips, why not work to engage them.

I see it at conferences all the time, why not classrooms? (credit, bjoern)

I see it at conferences all the time, why not classrooms? (credit, bjoern)

I’d have no problem working to socialize a tool like Twitter or the Harvard Live Question tool over the course of the first couple weeks of class. I think by doing that we’d see some really interesting things emerge. Twitter is becoming a powerful platform to do just about anything on, not sure why we aren’t seeing more teaching with it … it seems ideal as a place to engage in lots of good backchannel conversation. I think the students are ready … if you walk past any modern classroom there is technology everywhere.

Why not engage this? (credit, justin)

Why not engage this? (credit, justin)

An additional thing I’ve been thinking about is using a blog as a real time reflective environment. Invite students to comment on a post during class and see how things emerge. When we teach too many times we ask questions and get really very little verbal engagement … would that change if the conversation was seeded by blog comments? I am guessing yes.

To do any of this stuff you need a room to support it. I think a room that can project meaningful teaching materials as well as the backchannel is key to exploring this new way of teaching. What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Classroom of the Future

  1. Call me crazy, but I think that the only way this happens is if we (and maybe others out there) continue to teach course like Disruptive Technologies for Teaching and Learning. My honest and gut reaction is that if you can’t design a class that engages your students, then it is on you that they are off task. The only difference is that today you can more obviously see they might be off task because their lids are up. Does nobody remember writing and passing notes to your friends in high school (or for that matter just sitting and being)? Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, it is also a core problem in our higher education (and K-12) classrooms.

  2. there are two rooms in the IST building that can do this. one has screens at back and front of the classroom. the second has one giant screen that can display two signals (the cybertanic). you’re welcome to come back to IST and teach in either one 😉

    that said, i have to wonder when (if) we’ll get beyond the idea of making people go to a specific, physical location at specific times and expect them to learn. especially when students probably leave those rooms at end of session and go to other places (see your earlier informal comment) to make sense of what was said, assigned, etc.

    we talked about this years ago, moving infrastructure to support learning out of (cl)assrooms into dorms, fraternities/sororities, coffee houses, etc. backchannel in lecture theaters would be a nice step towards increasing participation, but i think we can do something far more interesting as an experiment outside of classrooms.

    wanna start tomorrow?

  3. @Scott McDonald I am more excited than ever to get back into the classroom and see what we can do. I think we should think really hard about the room we want to use so it can support some of these bigger ideas.

    @bsmith I’m serious when I say I want to design something that can support a new vision for teaching. I don’t care if it is in a dorm or a classroom building — they’re all just spaces. I do like the notion of being together and I don’t think the existing web-based classroom solutions support anything interesting. With that said, maybe we’re not thinking about it enough. Maybe tools like Twitter can support a non-location specific class? I wouldn’t mind talking more about those ideas.

  4. Pingback: Classical conditioning — design:learning

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