The Classroom Of The Future, Today05-11-2015
Technology is changing the way we teach and also the physical environments that students are taught in. Pupils are encouraged to be innovative and to take the initiative – a far cry from a 100 or so years ago when pupils had to be silent in class, stifling creativity and enthusiasm. Creativity cannot be developed when sitting in straight lines – so classrooms have adapted to inspire pupils and cater for modern learning methods.
Current classrooms don’t always facilitate 21st century learning methods. It used to be that a teacher’s desk sits at the front of the classroom and student’s desks are neatly aligned in rows, but now, classrooms must be flexible enough to accommodate different teaching styles.
When classroom furniture can easily be moved to allow for comfort and practicality, it can increase seating comfort, aid understanding of the teacher, and aid viewing of materials. Flexible seating is important – pupils need to be able to move, especially at the primary school level.
Students prefer learning spaces that allow them to work independently or in groups, interact with fellow-students and seek an environment that fosters understanding and development. Classroom spaces shouldn’t be static but should adapt to what activity the teacher uses to teach that day’s lesson.
There are certain types of furniture that are well-suited for this type of learning environment, for example, chairs that flex to the user’s movements and tables that allow reconfiguration. Our FlexiTable Tilt tables are perfect for an adaptable classroom setting because they allow a space to be cleared easily so it can be used for another purpose. The table tops fold down for ease of storage and due to the wheels on the legs they can easily be moved out the way when needed. Using reconfigurable furniture means that multiple layouts can be achieved for group projects, private study, discussion and presentations.
For storage solutions, TeacherWalls are becoming very popular – they can include a teacher’s desk and integrate storage, interactive whiteboards, charging points, standard whiteboards and also blackboards. If you are thinking of having a TeacherWall in your classroom, read our recent blog post to get some inspiration.
New technology resources are available to help educators connect their students to new ideas, challenges and resources. Many classrooms today have iPads, interactive, touch-screen whiteboards, and Kindles instead of library cards. In the future, we will be using more technology, and using that technology more effectively – a vast amount of progress and changes have been in made in the last few years and I think we can see this trend continuing into the future.
So, what will the future hold? Could we take virtual school trips to study other countries? Maybe we will see teachers shared between schools with screens and speakers to save money and resources and share specialists (video conferencing technology). Perhaps all lessons will be downloaded on iPads – maybe children won’t write at all but will be taught typing skills and how to use electronic equipment instead of pens and paper. Will pupils be taught by using 3D technology so that they can learn more interactively? Pupils and teachers may have something like the Apple iWatch or Bluetooth earpieces that connect them to the internet at all times.
Changes to the physical environment will include furniture with charging points, furniture will be much more flexible as pupils will walk around with tablets and choose where they sit and how they learn. Teachers will project onto walls wherever they choose, so lessons can be taught in different places every day! There will be a growing need to have charging outlets, WiFi, electronic equipment storage, and also movable furniture and walls.
However, the relationship between teacher and pupils is very valuable. Children must continue to use interpersonal skills in order to learn how to interact with people. Therefore children should continue to have real teachers so they can keep communicating out loud, learning skills such as project presentation and public speaking.
Techniques Of The Future
Flipping The Classroom – An example of this is to watch videos of lectures at home and study and do the practical work and essays at school where the pupil can ask the teacher questions, discuss understanding of the subject and have assistance with the ‘real work’. Class time will then be for group projects and engaging discussions to help students apply what they learnt.
Self-Directed Learning – SDL empowers individuals to take responsibility by taking their learning into their own hands. It can involve various activities such as participation in study groups, self-guided research and writing activities. Pupils seem able to transfer their problem solving and self-directed learning skills from one subject and situation to others, therefore learning valuable life skills. The teacher walks between pupils and assists where necessary but plays a role rather of the advisor than teacher. Classroom design may be different due to the lack of a need for all pupils to face the front while the teacher explains the lesson. Instead separate study pods and areas will become more important and students take their work schedule into their own hands.
Exams – Perhaps children will take exams when they are deemed ready, rather than being compartmentalised by age and take exams at the same time as all the others their age. Just because a student is 12 years old, it does not mean they perform as expected of that age group in all content area. A pupil could be doing maths at a 10 year old level but reading like a 15 year old.
To conclude, classroom learning has evolved a lot over the last few years and we can expect it to continue to change massively in the future. One thing that will never change is the need for people to learn and therefore there will always be a need for classrooms and teachers. Technology is continuously playing a larger part in the teaching and learning process, but students need social interaction with teachers and other students to optimise the learning process and bring out the full potential in every student.
To discuss your classroom design or for more information on this topic, please call us on 020 8641 1000 or email us a [email protected].