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May 26, 2014

Comic by Patrick Corrigan

 

In the article, “The Classroom is Obsolete” by Prakash Nair from Education Week, he concludes by stating that classrooms shouldn’t be abandoned but perhaps we need to,

“…. 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. In many parts of the country, limited classroom space can be significantly expanded by utilizing adjacent open areas while simultaneously improving daylight, access to fresh air, and connections to nature.”

Doesn’t that sound cool?

I really like Prakash’s idea.  His inspired retooling of the classroom doesn’t really prescribe anything specific regarding technology but it does go against the idea of the MOOC.  To me, the MOOC seems uninspiring.  I can appreciate the efficiency of online classes and I definitely see the utility of taking SOME classes online.  However, I think there is a lot of value in being a part-physically being-a part of a learning community.  I personally would like to use technology to enhance the “learning suites” that Prakash describes in his article.

Prakash references the failure of the American “open classroom” experiment of the seventies. I understand how and why this experiment ultimately failed but I also feel that we learned something through the experiment. Experimentation is vital. Learning what doesn’t work is just as important as learning what does work.  If we never try new things, we never evolve.

Perhaps we’ll look back at the 1-to-1 technology model that we’re currently engaged in as a failure.  Maybe we’ll recognize how much time is wasted wrestling with tech and how distracted students are by having so many glowing screens in the classroom.  I kind of doubt it.  Technology in the classroom is here to stay, but it will continue to change; such is the nature of technology.  I can’t possibly imagine what direction it will take.  Whenever I’m asked to predict what will happen with tech in the future I think of Marty McFly in 2015 cruising on his hoverboard and cruising around in flying cars.  I’m sure my predictions would be equally ridiculous.  Whatever shape the evolution of technology in education takes I hope I’ll still be IN a classroom and not only teaching from behind a computer screen, to students who are miles away.