What does the classroom of the future look like? The 4 big trends

The classroom of the future looks nothing like the classroom from your school days. The physical spaces are becoming 'student-centred' and technology is transforming the way we gain knowledge, develop new skills and collaborate.

Today’s classroom

Technology has already put its mark on classrooms, transforming them into digital hubs. In many countries, most classrooms have internet access, chalkboards are extinct, and other digital solutions have changed several aspects of the education system.

Some examples of these digital solutions include:

  • Intranet or communication platforms to enable communication between students, teachers and parents
  • E-learning and course management platforms for coursework, assignments and grades/report cards
  • Cloud storage create paperless systems
  • Tablets to replace school books
  • Interactive displays or whiteboards that enable active and engaging learning

As a facility IT or AV manager, if this type of technology is not present at your school, it’s important to consider how it can be implemented on your facility. When working on modernizing your school facilities, it’s important to think about who you are doing this for; the user. The children and teenagers going to school now have all grown up with technology being a central part of their daily lives. They probably cannot even remember a time where technology was not so heavily present. Smart home devices, IoT, social media, apps and streaming services are standard issue in every modern household. Lack of technology in the classroom, therefore, will heavily clash with their perception of school and education in general.

Are your classrooms digital?

We cannot emphasize the importance of integrating technology into today’s classroom enough! Life is becoming more digitalized at breakneck speed, where new technology is becoming outdated at the blink of an eye. Digitalization is not going to slow anytime soon, and that is why it’s extremely important to prepare students for the reality that awaits them when they get out of school. The workplace and general society will not have the space or the tolerance of those who struggle to understand and use technology. Students must not only be familiar with but excellent users of the technology they will be using in the future.

The purpose of the school system is to equip them with the knowledge, skills, competencies and tools they need. Old technology and outdated classrooms don’t engage, motivate or inspire students. Classroom technology and equipment should be inspired by the same type of technology found in the modern home if schools want a high level of motivation and engagement for their students.

You might be thinking “All the students in my facility have had a tablet thrust into their small hands since they were 1 year old. They know how to use technology instinctively. Why do they need to learn how to use technology at school too?” That’s a very fair point! The reason why technology in the classroom is important is that it’s a unique opportunity to teach them skills that they would not necessarily learn when using technology for entertainment.

Some competencies and skills that are enhanced by using technology in the classroom:

Creativity

Technology provides access to the Internet, where a world of information awaits. The internet can expose children and students to an infinite source of inspiration. Technology also facilitates creative expression, empowering students to create art through any form of digital media.

Critical thinking

Never in history has there been a bigger amount of freely accessible information than the 21st century. This free access to every type of information imaginable has made the traditional way of “learning” - memorizing facts and regurgitating them during an exam – completely redundant. Critical thinking has become a key skill that enables students to filter through information, critically analyze it and review its validity, before using their findings to come up with a conclusion.

Collaboration

Technology offers highly effective, cloud-based platforms that empower students to communicate, collaborate on projects, share content, comment and provide peer pressure. They are also practicing other soft skills like negotiation, conflict management and leadership.

The 4 big trends

AR & VR in the classroom

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are not far-off, futuristic technologies. The technology is ripe enough to implement in schools as learning tools today. AR content provides the opportunity to bring hands-on learning into the classroom. An example of this is simulation, as is already used in pilot training academies and medical schools. This creates an authentic, real-life scenario without the risks and dangers associated with real life, and enables students to immerse themselves in the scenario, learn how to perform the tasks and learn how to manage the feelings that emerge in such scenarios.

AR content brings lessons to life, providing a multisensory experience that proves to be much more fun and engaging. AR also enables hands-on learning is also proven to improve information retention rate as more senses are used to process information, while also giving students the freedom to further explore a topic at their own pace. There are many AR apps and experiences out there that can support K12 lessons in topics ranging from mathematics to history and science. Equipment such as interactive whiteboards, interactive projectors, tablets and headsets are essential tools to enable AR in the classroom.

VR can be used to create an experience that is otherwise inaccessible due to costs. For example, instead of an expensive school trip to a museum located far away, schools can use VR technology to replicate the experience of visiting an art exhibition in a museum. This can also be an interactive experience when students could learn more the story behind the different works of art by seeing video clips of artists talking about their work.

Adaptative learning plans

It is now commonly recognized that students are different, have different learning speeds and different learning styles. Unfortunately, the traditional education system had one model that is applied to all students; helping some students move forward and others, unluckily, fall behind. The students who are struggling in the traditional education system will seldom come forward and admit that they are not thriving. Unless teachers can sense the issue, they miss a critical opportunity to intervene and adjust a lesson plan to make it more accessible for all the students of the class.

The concept of adaptive learning is based on creating a learning system that gathers data and adapts learning plans for each student’s needs. This unique and personalized approach to learning ensures that all students are equally empowered to learn and develop their skills. Other benefits include:

  • a higher level of enthusiasm and engagement among students
  • a higher quality learning experience for every student
  • a higher level of mastery in different topics
  • a higher level of self-awareness about the students’ learning styles

Such a system requires a massive amount of data; starting with an in-depth analysis of students’ interaction with the learning material. Such a system then uses AI to constantly adapt the learning material on an individual level and provide feedback to the teachers. Adaptive learning technology is a huge project to implement in schools and can very well encounter some resistance from teachers from older generations who are skeptical of new technology. It also requires a large upfront investment (time and finances) to create a tailored system for your school. Such a system also requires a stable server and network, which can be a challenge if the school is in a rural area with poor internet coverage.

Gamification

Games are part of the cultural landscape and children’s favorite form of entertainment. The great thing about games is that they are not only entertaining; they also provide an active and immersive learning experience. In fact, playing games challenges a wide range of skills including creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving. Furthermore, games create an environment that promotes communication, cooperation and a healthy level of competition.

Gamification is defined as implementing game elements into non-gaming contexts for a specific purpose. This could be to increase participation, engagement or brand loyalty. Gamification has already been used successfully in industries like retail and SaaS. A simple and classic example of gamification is point-based loyalty programs that unlock special discounts when enough points are gathered.

Gamification is growing and is also making a huge impact on the education sector. As mentioned previously, games challenge the use of different skills. Introduction a gamification element to teaching can be a fun and engaging way of teaching, conditioning behavior and testing new skills. Some examples could be point systems that encourage students to meet academic objectives. Reaching a certain number of points could unlock special rewards or benefits. Gamification can also be used to foster collaboration skills with “team missions” that encourage students to help each other reach a common goal.

In the age of information, students have access to all the knowledge available on the Internet with just the click of a few buttons. Many might even question the purpose of school when all the knowledge a student wants to gain is so freely available. To compete with what the Internet has the offer, schools need to create a learning experience that cannot be replicated by reading an article on Wikipedia or watching a YouTube video. The engaging experience of gamification could be the ‘competitive’ advantage they need to keep students interested.

Flexible classroom layouts

We bet that when you were in school, the furnishing in the classroom was simply a chalkboard or whiteboard and several rows of desks and chairs facing the board and the teacher’s desk. This kind of setup was neither inspiring or especially conducive to learning.

Today’s final trend is the flexible classroom layout. This trend focuses on furnishing learning spaces based on students’ needs. A flexible classroom does not have a fixed seating plan and has furniture that can be easily be moved around to create open collaborative spaces or closed, private spaces for focused studying. Furniture would include different seating options such as stools, bean bags or stability balls, adjustable height desks, tables with wheels, movable walls or partitions and storage space for students’ belongings.

The flexible classroom layout provides several benefits. Having the freedom to choose where and how to sit and move around as they please empowers students to make choices, an important skill that is especially important for younger children to develop. As we all know, it’s especially challenging for children and young people to sit still for several hours a day. Flexible classrooms provide movement and comfort, creating a space that is more conducive to learning. Students are normally very happy to have the freedom provided by flexible classroom layouts – and happiness is an important factor that contributes to their engagement and performance in class

The equipment to support the next big trends

he AV industry is constantly innovating and creating new products that support the trends and changing needs of the education sector. The common denominators in all these trends are the increased focus on collaboration and creating an engaging and personalized learning experience. AV technology can be the tools that support these goals.

Lessons become more engaging with interactive multimedia presentations. An interactive display or whiteboard allows several pupils to simultaneously interact with the material. For flexible classrooms, a small interactive projector provides all the benefits of an interactive display with added portability. These tools can also be used to bring an AR element to the classroom. For older classes with BYOD (bring your own device), a wireless presentation system would be very beneficial, so that students and teachers can quickly and mirror their screens and present material to the class. Of course, we cannot forget to mention the importance of audio systems to create a rich and immersive multimedia experience in the classroom.

Finally, you can connect and control all the different AV equipment in a classroom with an AV control system, that provides equipment users with one user-friendly control interface. A control interface can be in the form of a keypad or touch panel and acts as an intuitive starting point for users when entering a classroom. The benefits, of course, are that teachers and students know what to do when they see the control interface and feel comfortable operating the equipment without requiring help from IT. Familiarity with the equipment also ensures that AV equipment is used and becomes a good investment for your school.

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