The Classroom of the Future

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Most of you might also feel identified with this situation, now or at some moment of your youth: Preparing your backpack and carrying a huge pile of heavy books to school. And once you enter the classroom it’s all about paying attention to your teacher who lectures using a blackboard and traditional white chalk. However, this is already changing and there are a lot more significant changes coming in the not too distant future.

We know how education works in 2013, but can we imagine how will classes be held in 2020? Manufacturers and education experts have pronounced their ideas about this and their theories are very interesting. We will go over some of them and present two initiatives with innovative propositions on the matter.

What Experts Say

David Vogh is a professor at the University of British Columbia and he is also a pioneer in the way he teaches his classes. For him, the BYOD philosophy (”bring your own device”) will also become important in the educational sector. At his own university, a research group developed a video tool which allows students to take virtual classes and helps each of them prepare a certain topic and exchange information later on (whether by making a video, writing text or using other formats) in order to obtain exponential knowledge growth through cooperative learning.

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, believes that digital classes have a lot to offer to students if you compare it to the crowded “face-to-face” classes that in many cases are the present day reality. This new way of learning makes the advice of true experts available for the given classes and materials can be provided without great costs. Gates defended this personalized education for each student on more than one occasion and likes to emphasize how new technologies can provide cheap and easy solutions for the education sector. And these are not empty words: Bill Gates invested 100 million dollars in inBloom, a startup company working on these kinds of solutions.

Recently, more than 600 American teachers met at a conference with the headline Teaching & Learning in a Digital World and explored what everyday life in a classroom could look like in the year 2018. Ruben R. Puentedura, one of the people who intervened there, proposed a fundamental change in the structure of classes using new technologies as tools for support and creation. In addition to that the concept of ”Running before walking” was presented. It allows students to take a look at learning contents which are too advanced for the age and helps them put what they are learning in perspective.

One of the big debates that appeared recently with the e-learning boom and new trends like MOOCs (massive open online courses) is related to whether education must be face-to-face or it can also be imparted from a distance. For Clifford Orwin, professor at Toronto University, the answer is clear: ”My educational theory is simple: You have to be there.” His opinion is shared by many teachers, who argue that the dynamic of studying a subject can not be “transmitted electronically” and that in addition to that teacher-student interaction as well as interaction among the students themselves is lost.

However, many experts believe, a mixed model could deliver good results. At Toronto University and at other schools theoretical lectures given by teachers are recorded and made available on the institution’s website. This way, students can access these “one-way” learning contents anytime and from everywhere, while the time on campus can be used for practical activities or group learning.

However, distance learning over the internet has many other advantages. Imagine for example being able to receive a class together with students from all around the world and share notes and exchange your impressions and ideas with them. The technology, as we mentioned earlier, is already available. Now we have to start making use of its possibilities. Is this kind of globalized education imparted only over the internet going to become a reality by 2020? It is difficult to foresee, but we are certainly seeing a lot of models at the moment that successfully combine both methods: Face-to-face classes as well as distance learning.

Gamedesk, a Project to Keep in Mind

Gamedesk is a non-profit initiative which was born in 2009 in the heart of the United States with the idea to respond to problems which, according to statistical research, some students in the country had in the fields of maths and science. Its proposition? Create games and other interactive content that is fun for kids but based on an educational foundation helping them obtain knowledge in a practical way.

Specific Examples? There are many. With Aero students can learn about aerodynamics making a seagull fly from their iPads or directly on their game consoles. Photo-synthetics? Can be learned with this app which contains various mini-games that make students understand all the details of this process. And it goes on and on like this with a great variety of projects they are currently developing.

It is impossible to predict exactly how education will be in the year 2020 but all experts seem to agree on the important role new technologies will play. The times are over when students had an hour of computing class a week using outdated terminals at the high school’s computer room. It seems as if students and technology will be working together closely in the educational process. And technology will broaden their access to resources and offer them new ways and different opportunities to learn.

The mSchools programme is a multi-year, multi-faceted mEducation initiative by the Mobile World Capital Barcelona. The mSchools programme is designed to lower dropout rates, improve student attainment in schools across Catalonia and throughout Spain and, ultimately, to better prepare students as they pursue further education and employment in today’s digital world.

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