Every educational system in the world is being reformed at the moment, and it’s not enough. Reform is no use anymore because that is simply improving a broken model. What we need is not evolution, but a revolution in education. This has to be transformed into something else. Sir Ken Robinson
With the rise of technology and the digital age, classrooms are transforming in a way that we could never have imagined. Though we cannot predict precisely how the classrooms of the future may look, we can see trends emerging rapidly that suggest a total transformation. This transformation occurs in the way we see the barriers to entry of education, the role of a teacher, learning materials and the physical classroom.
Anyone from anywhere can access first class affordable, if not free education.
One global Classroom?
Technology aided learning globally is spreading fast, we may in the future see the dissolving of national curriculums altogether to give rise to one global classroom in which all students can access world class information and learn together across continents. Platforms such as Coursera with large global communities are successfully proving that not only is a global classroom possible, but that the emergence of having people working together on projects from different cultural backgrounds enhances the experience of learning and the sharing of knowledge.
Language may not a barrier.
With many translation technologies available online as well as a multitude of digital learning materials, learners now have access to courses in multiple languages and therefore access to multiple cultures and ways of thinking. As the scope and depth of content and technology increases the possibilities of interacting and learning globally are endless.
The classroom could be anywhere.
With mobile learning, the classroom need not be bound to a physical location at all. “Being there physically doesn’t add much value,” Bill Gates founder of Microsoft told CNN Money in an exclusive interview. He believes the days of big lectures with hundreds of students gathering in university classrooms may be numbered.
The exclusive becomes inclusive.
Education is becoming more and more affordable and moving away from its elitism. Future Classrooms could see developing countries using courses and content from traditionally prestigious and exclusive institutions such as Harvard and Cambridge. The impact that technology has on reducing the cost of education, both in the form of teachers, textbook, travel costs and tuition makes top class education available to anyone.
The classroom can happen at any time.
In the classrooms of the future we may see a complete dissolving of the semester/term and of the ‘school day’ as learning can happen at any time of the year, at any hour. Technology could one day provide education that is truly independent of fixed time which can also accommodate varying time-zones in a global classroom.
A complete re-invention of the role of a teacher
Flipping the classroom
Video recorded lectures are a primary form of technology based learning. In this form lectures are recorded on video by expert teachers who are dynamic at teaching, thus levelling the quality of teachers. These video lectures get watched outside of the class environment in the personal time of the student, and exercises and ‘homework’ are done in the classroom (flipping the classroom). The teacher’s role in the classroom then becomes a facilitator rather than a lecturer free to hone in on the individual learners needs.
Peers as teachers.
Peer to peer teaching is emerging as a powerful supplement to teaching. It’s a very simple concept. Learners who have mastered a concept share their knowledge with learners who are struggling. Whether in a physical classroom or in online forums this form of peer teaching and tutoring is proving to be highly successful. The role of the teacher shifts to assist in pairing up weaker students with stronger ones.
Besides for individual and peer to peer learning the most unlikely of candidates can become teachers. The Granny Cloud devised by Sugata Mitra is one such example. This is a group of grandmothers all over the United Kingdom who assist and encourage students in India with their learning via Skype. Sugata Mitra hopes to see a 25% increase in attainment thanks to this coaching/feedback mechanism.
Learning Materials will be unrecognisable.
In future classrooms we will see each learner with some technological device, be it a computer, a mobile, tablet etc. as their primary learning ‘station’. However with touch the emergence of touch screen technology we may even see the entire class working on one giant touch sensitive wall, or screen.
Interactive and fun learning materials.
learning materials will be geared at stimulating the learner through multi-media. Gaming, video lectures, interactive apps, and learning programs of any sort are progressing in a way that entertainment and learning are synonymous. The boring old text book will fade away in favour of content and technology which is exciting and relevant to the digitally savvy learner.
Personalized and relevant content.
Similarly, the learning content will shift from a ‘one size fits all’ model to a more personalised way of delivering content in a culturally relevant way. Information will always be relevant always aggregating new global affairs and discoveries.
Considering the rise of technology in the classroom environment it is not together unfathomable that learners will operate in a completely paperless environment.
The physical appearance of the classroom will transform.
No more lecture style classrooms.
In the Classrooms of the future, due to developments in both the philosophy of ‘flipping the classroom’ and the rise in technology, students will no longer sit in rows at individual desks. The Classroom will take on more of a loosely structured cluster shape where desks are huddled into groups and easy to move around depending on the project and technology at hand. This resonates with the idea of teacher as facilitator rather than lecturer.
Alternative architecture for the classrooms of the future
New designs for school architecture are suggesting rounder more inviting style of building which moves away from a cold ‘prison’ like feeling to a warm sustainable building which is equipped with solar panels, roof gardens and other ways to integrate warmth and sustainability to learners of the future. The idea is that the learning environment needs to be dynamic and interactive.
In conclusion, these contributing factors have seen an increase in the development of innovative schooling models, an upsurge in homeschooling as well as other non traditional education models. With an increase in creative content driven technology solutions – the classroom of the future is set to change. Whilst these changes may not happen rapidly, or all at once, we need to begin the journey into transforming our classrooms for tomorrow, today.