Classroom 2.0

Imagine this… FOUR smartboards surrounding your classroom, each with the ability to broadcast a separate feed. An Elmo hardwired to the ceiling that allows you to share anything with your class with a touch of a button. Students with laptops and iPad collaborating on project-based learning assignments. Think this is a fantasy? Not anymore.

New education candidates at USC’s Rossier School of Education will construct knowledge in these new classrooms, located in downtown Los Angeles, in what hopes to be a growing trend and not an anomaly.

Unfortunately, these USC students may only experience technology in their classrooms while on campus. Despite several schools reporting high rates of computer access, most have yet to develop any initiative for how to properly use technology to increase student engagement, collaboration, or ownership of learning. Placing an aging computer with basic computing software at the back of a classroom will not transform education. Dynamic tools capable of connecting students to real-world applications will begin to give students a voice in their education.

Computers, iPad, Smartboards, e-portfolios, and real-time applications are wonderful tools that, when put in the hands of leaders with vision, can begin to close the achievement gap. By allowing for more time constructing knowledge, students are able to be more active thinkers. Think about a traditional classroom. In order to be successful you need to be able to listen, pay attention, take good notes, and pass tests. Better classrooms push students to apply their notes to higher order thinking situations, but how often does the teacher actually connect with each student? To properly facilitate, students need to be able to access a teacher’s expertise. Growing classroom sizes pull teachers in several directions through the day and access to their teacher after-school varies on the schedule of the student and teacher.

A 21st century classroom has the potential to provide access to a wealth of information. When properly prepared by the teacher, or a group of teachers, students would be able to access supplemental information, request help from their teacher, or even collaborate with people outside of the classroom who have experience in a topic they are discussing.

I hope USC’s technological initiative will lead high schools in the LA areas to follow their lead and hopefully allow future students to expect the tools within their classroom.

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