The Classroom of the Next Generation

The classroom of the next generation

I was asked yesterday to be thinking about what the classroom of the next generation might look like as we may invest in the redesign of a classroom here at UNI to use with the grant.  As I was thinking about what I would want in my classroom for pre-service teachers, I came up with the following:

    • Moveable furniture that is lightweight and allows for a number of configurations
    • Displays mounted around the periphery of the classroom to allow students to work in small groups and for students to display mastery
      • There would be no front of the classroom
      • A larger display or IWB could be used for entire class problem solving and discussion
    • A wireless mobile device for all learners, including the instructor
      • Necessary for connecting to the outside world and for changing the configuration of the classroom learning in the 21st century
    • Comfortable and easy to move seating, preferably with wheels and cushions
    • Video conferencing technology to connect with experts in multiple content areas as well as in the field
    • Audience Response System for increasing the number of formative assessments given during the course
    • Ubiquitous wireless Internet access, it just has to work
    • Writable surfaces (walls, tables, windows, floors, etc.)
    • Sound proof teaching rooms
      • Each room needs video conference technology and display
      • Allow pre-service teachers opportunity to teach during course to put theory into practice (I’m thinking a Distance-based PD School type experience)
      • Experts (faculty, teachers, other experts) are available to assist, observe, co-teach, etc.
    • Other classroom technologies (digital cameras, camcorders, scanners, slates, etc.)

However, the physical classroom is only part of the equation.  There is a virtual classroom that must also be accompanied with all physical classrooms.  Here is my short list of general features of virtual classrooms:

  • Common online meeting space that can be accessed from anywhere, anytime
  • Membership to the virtual class should include experts in multiple content areas and experts from the field
  • Needs to allow for high levels of collaboration
  • Needs to be flexible and user friendly to have as low of a learning curve as possible
  • Needs to allow for high personalization at the user level

This is what I see as being crucial for transforming learning in schools.  The role of everyone in the classroom changes.  There is no front of the classroom for the teacher to “teach” from, rather, the teacher moves around the room supporting small groups or individual students.  Those groups will change, which means the basic structure and configuration of the classroom needs to be flexible.

Above is a crude, very crude, sketch of what I think the physical classroom would look like.  (Please excuse my awful drawing skills).  The main point I want to get across is that the classroom needs to be flexible, open, comfortable, and highly structured for collaboration.

What does your classroom for the next generation look like?  Leave a comment!

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About dmourlam

Technology Specialist Teacher Quality Partnership University of Northern Iowa View all posts by dmourlam

3 responses to “The Classroom of the Next Generation

  • johnstmm

    I like this! It breaks down a big class into several learning groups. I love doing “stations” in my class. Student don’t always need a teacher to learn.

    • dmourlam

      Thanks! It’s always nice to know that others agree with what you’re saying. I think what I like most about this type of learning environment is that everyday the environment can change to be responsive to the needs of the learners. Maybe one day it’s small groups and the next day larger groups or individual work. It all depends on what the learners need to succeed.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • dmourlam

    As I thought about what would be important in the classroom of the next generation, I thought it would be important to also have an archive of the classroom activities. I’m thinking of the open courseware you can view on iTunes. At UNI we use Panopto for classroom video capture. So in my classroom of the next generation, I’d add a couple cameras to capture multiple perspectives in the classroom and then have a small table (probably near the IWB) for a laptop that could run the Panopto software. Then then the content could be hosted on an LMS (most likely BlackBoard or Moodle).

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