“How do I see my classroom in 5, 10, 15 years?” This is probably one of the hardest questions to answer, because when I think to 5 years back, when I first started teaching at AISR, I could never have assumed that my classroom and curriculum would be what it is today. Had you asked me 15 years ago, when the internet was still a wondrous notion, what I thought a typical first grade classroom would be like, I would have probably said “the same as it was when I was in first grade.” But how wrong I would have been.
The internet, globalisation, cross-collaboration and the sheer access we have to the world’s vast wealth of knowledge, available at our fingertips, has changed everything. Not just the way we learn, but the way we teach, what we teach and how these lessons are communicated.
The general consensus from the reading assignments this week seems to support the fact that the way we teach today needs a serious overhaul to be able to imbue students, aka. the next generation of workers, with the requisite skills they need to add value and contribute to an ever evolving economy. As stated in The Classroom is Obsolete: Its Time For Something New “classroom-based education lags far behind when measured against its ability to deliver the creative and agile workforce that the 21st century demands.” The same sentiment is echoed in Collaborative Learning For The Digital where it is mentioned that “unfortunately current practices of our educational institutions – and workplaces – are a mismatch between the age we live in and the institutions we have built over the last 100+ years.”
We can already witness some educational institutions attempting to overcome this challenge by implementing initiatives that “would not necessarily get rid of classrooms, but instead redesign and refurbish them to operate as ‘learning studios’ and ‘learning suites’ alongside common areas reclaimed from hallways that vastly expand available space and allow better teaching and learning.” (The Classroom Is Obsolete: Its Time for Something New). These ‘learning studio’s’ enable “variety, flexibility, and comfort in their environment” which research has demonstrated improves both teacher and student performance.
I have briefly touched upon the new concept of informal learning above, which I will go into deeper dialogue about in the coming paragraphs. According to A Communique From The Horizon Project Retreat “there is a rise in informal learning as individual needs are redefining schools, universities and training.” The article goes on to state that “business models across the education ecosystem are changing.” This is very easily seen through the growth of the number of MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) and the integration of ‘play’ into the curriculum, as well as more and more academic entities incorporating the flipped classroom concept into their teaching methodology.
I strongly agree with Learners Are People, Not Isolated Test Taking Brains when it is mentioned that “play not only fosters productivity and creativity, but also makes life more meaningful- and it helps learning.” I have seen this in my own classroom, as my students creativity and imagination is heightened when they are left to their own devices and not limited by the constraints of outdated curricula. This is best articulated later on in the same reading which states that “if our ultimate goal is to educate human beings, then we must focus not only on knowledge and information, discipline and surveillance as measured by tests, but also on non-academic pleasures, motivations, skills, and he full array of human engagement that sustains attention and meaning.”
We already have seen the research which proves that standardized testing is perhaps one of the worst ways to determine intellect; that differences should be celebrated rather than censured; that lectures are ineffective without engagement. Laptop-U probably says it best when it claims that “student’s, if all you’re gong to do it lecture them, no longer see any reason to show up to be lectured.” All the information students need for a lecture is readily available through the internet so why should they bother having the same information regurgitated in the classroom? Class time is better spent assessing how well students have retained the information taught, and evaluating if they can aptly apply this information to solve real world problems.
A further way in which I see the classroom evolving/adapting in the future is through the implementation of peer reviews. Referring back to Collaborative Learning For the Digital Age “every study of learning shows that you learn best by teaching someone else,” and this is something I concur with. The more we integrate the concept of students teaching students, and being a part of the grading process, the more involved and entrenched they become in a topic/subject matter. Not only is involvement increased, but students’ approach and understanding of the topic also adapt, enabling them to move from their own personal opinion on a subject to a position where they can evaluate and assess another students work. I’m going to end my blog post with a very pertinent question obtained from Collaborative Learning For the Digital Age“and that is “if constant public self-presentation and constant public feedback are characteristics of a digital age, why aren’t we rethinking how we evaluate, measures test, assess, and create standards?”