Saturday, May 12, 2007

Does The School of The Future Have Walls?

As technology and education come together and as more and more educational institutions look at online, blended,distance, and other forms of delivery to augment their brick classrooms, are we at the cusp of an educational revolution? Will there be a paradigm shift away from "traditional" classroom-based learning environments to ones designed and dictated by learners that are highly customizable, mobile ad distinctly non-traditional? My answer to that question is yes, but...

As adult educators we need to get out of our current focus on the space (classroom), method (delivery), and content and focus completely on the learners and their learning. This means developing strong, measurable, authentic outcomes and the competency-based assessment systems to evaluate learners competencies against these outcomes. It has to be about the learning and what works for the learner.

So let's look at how learners learn, where they want to learn and what they want to use in order for their learning to happen. It will mean a lot more work and planning for educators (particularly at the front-end), but will result in a much better experience for the learners.

The reason I said yes, but.. earlier is that I think there will always be "classroom" learners and we need to continue to offer those learners an environment that works for them. We will also need to offer learning environments for the distance learner, blended learner, mobile learner, and learners we have not even thought of yet. We will need to include all learning styles when we develop these learning environments and their supporting learning resources. The learners must be included in that development too. I do it now, and once they get over the initial shock of being asked to engage in the development of their own learning, most learners really appreciate it and take an active role.

So, will the classroom of the future have walls? Well, yes, but I think they will be much softer, portable, and porous than now and hopefully a lot more inclusive...

(Photo "final exam" by dcJohn)

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