In 2017, learning spaces and environments are the next frontier.
GUEST COLUMN | By Bob Hill
We’ve seen technology infiltrate the classroom in a variety of ways, from physical technology to creating connected, global classrooms. With this integration and the use of technology in the classroom, the way learning happens has changed. Consequently, both teachers and administrators have had to recognize the impact all this change has had on the learning process and help students and the classroom adapt.
What else is ahead in 2017? Here are a few important predictions as we head into the New Year.
Generally, in 2017 we expect to see further personalization of learning tools and technology. Those in the technology side of the industry have traditionally thought of the “tools” as the devices, software and curriculum (and the network infrastructure to support this), but non-tech tools are proving to be critically important in the evolution of personalized learning, too. Learning spaces and environments are the next frontier to bring out the best in our learners.
What else is ahead in 2017? We’ll continue to see the integration of technology in the classroom, the rise of personalized learning and classroom spaces that accommodate every learning type. Below are a few important predictions as we head into the New Year.
As teachers become more experienced in managing the flipped classroom model, they are gaining greater insights and opportunities for differentiated learning. Mobile computing devices and digital curriculum continue play an important role both in and out of the classroom, but the physical learning environment becomes much more important as well.
The flipped classroom model uses educational technology as a means for students to study information outside of school (as opposed to during class time) through tools such as videos, slides and notes. Time in class is then spent discussing the information, with teachers offering guidance, addressing key issues or dealing with any points of difficulty that students may have. By studying the material prior to class, students can spend time asking questions with the teacher and fellow students, creating a more active and collaborative learning environment.
To execute on the promise of collaborative and adaptive curriculums, we need to provide learning spaces that are conducive to cooperative grouping strategies and individualized physical learning needs. Visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners all take in information differently. Teachers must recognize these differences and align their curriculum to these styles to ensure that students are accessing information the way they do best.
Schools will continue to support the integration of technology into students’ daily classroom time to assist with the flipped classroom. Tablets, laptops and desktops will be more readily available to every student and the classroom itself will need to be transformed to accommodate for less lecture style teaching and make room for more collaboration between students and teachers.
In 2017, blended learning will gain a strong foothold outside of well-funded, magnet school. It is an approach to teaching that combines online with traditional classroom methods. Typically, students get facetime with teachers in schools that are then combined with activities completed online through the use of desktops, laptops or tablets. This type of classroom learning allows students to then set the pace and timing of their learning, providing a more personalized learning process.
As teachers continue to implement this type approach, in conjunction with the 1:1 computing trend, students will gain critical skills that the 21st century workplace demands – better collaboration and idea sharing through the use of technology.
While curriculum modernizations create opportunities for teachers and students to use the classroom space more effectively, traditional classroom furniture does not. It may not always be the first priority, but classroom furniture at the most foundational level should enhance the educational tools and technology it’s supporting. At an aspirational level, it should also support the teachers’ curriculum, the students’ health, comfort and learning styles.
Given today’s intersection of technology and education, the classroom set-up is at a crossroads. Case studies have shown the positive role that physical activity and height-adjustable desks can have in modern education, helping address the physical and cognitive challenges experienced by students in what has traditionally been a sedentary environment. Classroom furniture can play a critical role in making today’s classrooms where healthier, more collaborative behavior can occur and will be more conducive to learning even as schools prepare for the next wave of digital instruction.
Technology is continuing to shape the future, and our students’ ability to excel in that type of environment depends on how we equip them to succeed. Enhancing the physical environment to support these changing learning styles is the best place for teachers and administrators to start. By integrating useful technology in the classroom and changing the way students interact and learn with those tools, we will bring about happier and more successful students.
Bob Hill is Education Manager at Ergotron, a leading provider of ergonomic products for computer users.