There are a number of emerging trends in classroom technology that will likely shape the way we teach and learn in the very near future. These trends include mobile technologies (BYOD), improved wireless connectivity, and an increased demand for flexible learning spaces.
The Learn Lab at the Holden University Center is an example of an active learning classroom. With three interactive projection whiteboards placed strategically around the room, students are able to connect and to share their work using interactive screens and their laptops. The instructor can display content for all students or small groups from anywhere in the room. The direct line-of-sight configuration creates an optimal environment for student-to-student, student-to-instructor, and student-to-content interactions.
When this classroom was built a few years ago it was considered “state-of-the-art”. With the current configuration tables are outfitted with hubs that are wired into the interactive projection screens. Students plug in with their laptops to collaborate with their group. In the short span of a few years we have seen the rapid adoption of tablets and other hand-held technologies. Students are now bringing their personal technology into the classroom with the expectation of using them in support of their own learning.
We are now at a point when wireless technology permits students and faculty to connect and share their devices: laptops, iPads and other tablets, as well as smartphones. This mobility will change how we interact with classroom technologies. It means no longer having to place tables in a fixed location – resulting in greater flexibility. High definition monitors with build in Wi-Fi (or connected devices such as Apple TV) will likely replace interactive projectors and whiteboards as the preferred projection surface – with content from our apps on our hand-held devices.
The next generation interactive classroom…
1) will support students bringing their smartphones and tablets (BYOD) into the classroom. Students can expect to interact with their peers and the content / media on-the-fly, at the same time, discovering new ways to use classroom and web-based technologies to support their own learning.
2) will be increasingly wireless. Apple TV is already being used in classrooms where students and their teachers share their assignments and class projects on high definition TV screens. Emerging wireless technologies such as 802.11 ac, mean faster connection speeds and improved quality of shared media.
3) will mean classrooms are more configurable around the people using them rather than the fixtures and technology in the room. The use of multiple surfaces fosters collaboration, creativity and design, permitting students and instructors the ability to display, capture and share these interactions.
New learning spaces are emerging as a blend of the formal and informal – with flexibility driving design. I envision the classroom in the not-so-distant future will require multiple screens, myriad writing surfaces, configurable and mobile furniture with high speed Wi-Fi and the ability to connect and project from the student’s device of choice.