Remember those pre-internet days when, if you were curious about a topic, you had to go leafing through the nearest encyclopedia? Today, we can indulge in every one of our curious whims: string theory, the human genome, the complete filmography of Kevin Bacon – all available at our fingertips at any moment.
It’s no wonder that professors struggle to hold their students’ attention. There’s so much information it’s a lot to ask of a young mind to stop and focus on just one piece at a time. It’s possible that the traditionalclassroom just isn’t the best place to reach students.
What are the alternatives to the traditional classroom model?
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have gained steam over the last few years, quickly going from a curiosity to the brink of widespread acceptance. The tipping point may have come when the University of Wisconsin – Madison announced they would be launching an online bachelor’s degree program.
Virtual classrooms is another options with students from anywhere on the planet can sit in on a lecture or discussion using without ever having to get up off the couch. Will these methods will change the face of academics forever? What if students could one day get a degree from an Ivy League school from the convenience of their homes?
The world is your classroom
Those tech trends are still tied to the idea of the classroom itself, however. There are some tech-heads who would say that the future of education lies outside the four walls of a college classroom. These mobile apps are aiming to enable educational experience live and from anywhere:
- The HyperCities project will provide users with a thorough history of the world around them. Just point your phone at a location and see how it has changed over time.
- The Smithsonian’s Leafsnap app, meanwhile, can analyze a photo of a leaf taken on your phone and return a wide range of information like the species and whatever flowers or fruit may be associated with it.
They not only move education out of the classroom, but provide amazingly rich experience that turns into a lecture every trip or hike you take. Now that’s interactive learning!
Although we will always need experienced instructors to prepare students for their future careers, technology is changing the way we interact with information. With a wider launch of similar apps, the world will become our encyclopedia.
Are the available alternatives a good substitute for the traditional classroom? Tell us what you think and be sure to drop us a line on our Facebook page!