Classing up the classroom

Classing up the classroom

Classrooms are being redesigned to incorporate new ways of learning, teaching and new technology.

Educators have changed how they teach, what they teach and now they’re also changing wherethey teach. With all of this newfangled technology, why should classrooms stay the same? The classroom has remained remarkably unchanged over the past hundred years: a rectangle with some windows, rows of desks and one central wall where teachers share information.

Here are two brilliant ways universities found the ways to think “outside of the classroom”:

Dynamic and adaptable “smart space” – Two New York University students came up with a way to shake things up: a dynamic and adaptable classroom that can be changed depending on the type, subject or size of the class. It will be equipped with different types of projectors, walls built as white boards and other forms of technology.  “It’s really important to communicate why this flexibility is so important …. It will allow professors to experiment and try new things.” said one of the students who came up with the idea.  What’s revolutionary here is it’s not just about technology in the room, it’s the fact that anything and everything in the classroom can be moved around to accommodate the group, foster collaboration and ultimately foster creativity.

Life-size classroom reality– the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School is taking a different approach to adding collaboration to classrooms. They’re also incorporating brand  new technology: banks of 80-inch LED displays and a floor-to-ceiling projection system. The home theater has arrived on college campuses. The new system connects students who are 3,000 miles apart so they can all experience class at the same time. It’s currently being used to teach business and executive education classes, and helps the program’s Philadelphia and San Francisco students work together. It can also be used to stream in experts who can serve as guest speakers from the comfort of their home offices.

A large display shows a life-sized video of the instructor while screens on the back and side walls show students seated in other classrooms. The system also uses software that allows students outside of the two classrooms – like those traveling for work or studying at home – to join in live. All of a sudden students from remote locations, students in the classroom, and subject matter experts can all attend a class, and get the benefit of classroom lecture, real-time collaboration and live questions as if they were at the same location.  “As Wharton continues to expand educational opportunities globally, such as its planned facility in Beijing, the system also will enable a single-classroom experience internationally and offer classes that would be otherwise unavailable to remote students,” explained the school.

These type of “out of the box” thinking creates endless educational opportunities and allows to expand educational experiences beyond the university walls. It makes it incredibly easy to invite leading scientists to guest lecture the classroom.  It also transforms long distance learning experience into the “virtual presence” in the classroom.  The educational possibilities are endless and it might all start with the simple act of re-defining the classroom space.

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Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.