21st Century Classrooms

By Amber Hart,2014-06-16 22:40
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21st Century Classrooms ...

    How to Plan, Design and Re-Engineer

    High-Performance, Technology-Supported Classrooms

    for the 21st Century

? Re-Engineering the Classroom is an Important Step Toward Re-Engineering

    the School for the 21st Century

? Shift from Classroom Full of Computers to Computerized Classrooms, Use

    Computer and Its Monitor as a Medium for Education and Training in a

    Cooperative Learning Environment

? A Modern Multimedia “One Room High-Tech Schoolhouse” which Makes

    Possible New Forms of Multi-Modal Distance Learning

? Simplify the Educational Technology to Empower Teachers with

    “Consumer-Like” Tool Rather than Just Adding Technology

    James K. Chang

    President, COMWEB Technology Group

    Founder, Global Knowledge Exchange Program

    155 Route 46, Wayne Interchange Plaza II

    Wayne, New Jersey 07470 USA

    Tel: (973) 890-0010

    Fax: (973) 890-9077

    Videoconference: (973) 890-9664/5793


    How to plan, design and re-engineer etc. etc.

    I. T H E S I S

“Business Week” in its February 28, 1994 issue offered an in depth analysis of the educational technology

    revolution of the past 10 years. This cover article revealed that, despite millions and millions of dollars spent on new learning technology, schools (for the most part) had not achieved real improvements in teacher productivity or student achievement. The article further explained that school spending for learning technology had taken a similar course to that of corporate spending on information technology during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Initially, Corporate America was puzzled why, despite huge investments in computers and related office technologies, the actual corporate performance - i.e. efficiency and profitability -had not shown immediate and dramatic improvement. But eventually, U.S. Corporations came to understand that while there was nothing inherently wrong with information technology itself, IT could not be the total solution. It was not enough to simply automate the old manual business processes using computers. Rather Corporations must fundamentally change the way they do business in order to take advantage of technology. Re-Engineering the corporation soon became mainstream practice in the United States.

    Educational institutions are just now beginning to go through the same important learning curve. Experts in instructional technology are realizing that simply buying into the latest technology or installing high bandwidth networks (fiber, etc.) or connecting to the Internet is not the path to the 21st Century. These are only tools. As practitioners we must fundamentally change the way teaching and learning take place. And what better place to begin that in the classroom itself? Re-engineering the individual classroom into a multi-purpose, multimedia networked learning environment is the greatest step we can take toward re-engineering the school as a whole for the 21st Century.


What exactly has COMWEB Technology Group learned after being involved in over 1500 classroom

    infrastructure projects over the past 14 years? This includes work in K-12, Higher Education, Corporations, Government and Professional Training Centers around the world.

Lesson 1:

    Re-engineering the ”Mindset” of the teacher and the administration is more important than the technology

    itself because too often we use 21st Century tools and still follow 18th Century methods.

Lesson 2:

    The “integration” and “application” of technology is far more important than the technology itself.

    What the administrators want for their teachers is a complete “CAR” (Classroom), not mere auto parts!

Lesson 3:

    Rather than using the new educational tools to continue doing things the old way, we must fundamentally change the way we teach and learn in the classroom. What we are moving toward is a continually updated, just-in-time, and true lifelong learning environment.

Lesson 4:

    Educational Technology need not be “complicated” and “expensive.” Teachers and School Administrators must learn how to manage their technologists (and the technologies) rather than being managed by them.

Lesson 5:

    Teacher In Service Training and Professional Development in the area of Educational Technology is the single most critical element for Educational Reform. Do not build a “21st Century Car” (Classroom)

    without also providing a training program for the driver (Teacher) and traffic rules (License) to be obeyed.

Lesson 6:

    Do not re-invent the wheel (21st Century Classroom) or try to be the proprietary designer and engineer of the modern school building. Teachers and administrators should focus on defining the functional requirements for the classroom rather than specifying the details of the technology components.


III. 21st Century Classroom Functional Requirements

Based on the over 1,500 technology-based classroom and corporate training facility projects in which we

    have participated, we conclude that 80% or more of the functionality for which educators are looking is

    fundamentally similar by nature. Rather than focus on the technology components, the teacher should be

    focused on the functional requirements. We conclude that the following are among perhaps the most

    important capabilities:

    ? Multi-Purpose ? Open Architecture

    ? Multi-Functional ? Knowledge Automation-

     Capturing the “Process Knowledge”

    ? Software- & Curriculum- Independent ? Communication within Classrooms

    ? Accommodates Various Teaching Methods ? Multi-Channel Communications

    ? Highly Interactive Cooperative Environment ? Faculty Development Program

    ? Distance Learning Capable ? Global Knowledge Exchange Program


* Multi Purpose:

In order to maximize the return on investment, the classroom should be designed to support the teaching of

    any subject ranging from ESL, Math, Science, Law, Engineering, Management, and Medicine to CAD.

    The classroom should also be designed to be accessible to both highly computer -literate users as well as

    relative beginners.

* Multi Functional

There should be no such thing as a “computer classroom” but rather “a classroom with computers.”

    Rather than design a classroom for a single function, the infrastructure should be designed to support a

    variety of needs such as:

    ? General Use Classroom

    ? Computer Lab

    ? CBT Training Center

    ? Video Conferencing Room

    ? Multimedia-based Classroom

    ? Lecture and Presentation Room

    ? Distance Learning Room

    ? Internet Web-based Learning Center

    ? Curriculum & Student Portfolio Production Room

    ? Administrative Meeting Room

* Software- and Curriculum-Independent

In the life-long learning environment of the 21st Century, educational needs will be constantly changing.

    Therefore, the classroom should be designed to accent any computer hardware, computer operating system or application software and it should be easily adapted to any curriculum program.

    * Highly Interactive Cooperative Learning Environment

The classroom design must provide real time 3-way interaction:

    ? Teacher to Student(s)

    ? Student(s) to Teacher

    ? Student to Student(s)

    ? At both local and remote sites

    In addition, the design should provide for synchronous interaction as well as asynchronous interactions.

    * Multi-Modal Distance Learning Instruction Capable

There should be no such thing as a “Distance Learning Classroom,” but rather a “Classroom which can

    Support Distance Learning.” It should be used for both site-to-site and site-to-multisite Distance Learning Programs. Applications include software training as just one option. There are MANY good reasons to use

    a computer-supported, multimedia-based distance learning classroom. Under one scenario teaching and

    learning still begin and end in a real classroom with a group of real students and teachers, not the “virtual

    classroom” of the hype. The classroom should be designed to support every type of “multi-media

    communication”-- both “short-distance learning” (in which teacher and student are in the same room) and “ Long-distance learning” (in which teacher and student can be separated by hundreds or thousands of

    miles). Two or more classrooms anywhere in the world can be easily and inexpensively linked and

    function as a single high performance and highly interactive learning environment. An instructor in either

    room or a team of teachers can communicate face-to-face and screen-to-screen with students at the remote

    site in an approach to education, which we call “classroom-to-classroom communications.” The

    synchronous (real-time) links are supplemented by asynchronous links (Email, WWW, etc.). What we are

    witnessing here is the birth of an inexpensive hybrid digital-analog, synchronous-asynchronous medium,

    which goes everywhere to connect groups large and small.

* Open Architecture


    The classroom must support any computer platform: PC, Mac, Sun, etc. and work even without CPUs, just monitors only. It can integrate with any data or videoconferencing systems or any multimedia peripheral.

    The design should provide a migration path for integrating old equipment with any emerging or future


In a unique multi-layer configuration designed for maximum flexibility, a modular, plug-together hardware

    backbone interconnects all the various digital and analog devices. This hybrid digital-analog instruction

    delivery system is the central “structure” which integrates ALL the other technology at the point of

    instruction. Think of it as a “network-of-networks.” Additional digital or analog devices, like simple

    building blocks, can be introduced on the fly as the lessons dictate.

* Knowledge Automation - Capturing the Process Knowledge

19th Century education was among the most labor-intensive industries. The 21st Century classroom,

    similar to the automated office, should facilitate knowledge automation and should record both teacher

    presentations as well as student work which can later be re-used when developing case studies, curricula or

    student portfolios. The classroom will be the source of new knowledge creation. We should systematically

    look at how knowledge is created, assembled, presented, published, preserved, synthesized and distributed.

    The “economics” of “Knowledge” and its productivity will be of great importance in the 21st Century

    learning environment.

    * Communication within Classrooms

While many schools are pursuing distance learning applications which connect individual classrooms to

    other locations, we should be aware that most current classroom designs always put teachers and students at

    a distance, even though only 10-20 feet may separate teacher and students or student and student. Too

    often people concentrate on connecting from one classroom to other classrooms. We must also

    fundamentally change the way we communicate within the classroom.

    * Multi-Modal Communication

Just as the most up-to-date transportation networks today are multimodal in nature, exploiting a

    combination of airplanes, ships, trains and trucks, the 21st Century classroom represents a multimodal

    approach to educational communications. A hardware backbone within the classroom acts as the localized

    information delivery system, a feeder and distribution-switching device for whatever other communication

    links happen to be in use. The connections between classrooms can be digital or analog, wired or wireless

    (e.g. ISDN, Fiber, ATM, etc.) including even ordinary telephone lines. The choice of medium depends

    simply on where you are connecting and what you are teaching today. You can have more than one

    connection running at the same time or change the connections during the course of a class. The “best in

    practice” of current distance learning programs often require creative packaging of different

    communication media.

* Faculty Development Program MUST be Included

Before driving a car, every driver must go through practical training and an exam in order to get a driver’s

    license. Each teacher and/or trainer must likewise go through a professional development program. Some

    specific technology training programs are as follows:

? Educational Technology Seminar Series

    ? Computer-in-Education Certificate

    ? Multimedia-in-Education Certificate

    ? Distance Learning Certificate

    ? Instructional Technology Degree Program


    * The 21st Century Classroom - KnowledgeWEB Classroom

Based on these functional requirements, the following diagram illustrates how to design the best possible

    classroom. Please note that the standardization of the functions is what we are after, not the arrangement of

    the furniture or the aesthetics of the classroom.

? We need to simplify the Education Technology tool to “empower” the teacher with “consumer-

    like” tool rather than just adding technology. In other words, what the teacher needs is a fully

    functional car (classroom) rather than just a room full of auto parts. Computers, Internet,

    Network, TV, and furniture, are just auto parts. Teachers are the drivers; they do not need to

    know how to build the car. They just need to learn how to drive it. Today, almost everyone

    knows how to use a VCR’s, cameras, calculators, without having to learn the technology. We

    should focus on the classroom as a product (system) and its functionality rahter than focus on

    each auto part.

? We need to shift the design concept of a classroom ful1 of computers, to computerized

    classrooms. Use the computer and its monitor as a medium for Education and Training in a

    cooperative Learning Environment.


     TM Program* Global Knowledge Exchange (GKE)

    Perhaps the best way to think about the 21st Century Classroom is not simply as an intersection of outside

    networks with local resources, but rather as the intersection of people and institutions and ideas. The 21st

    Century Classroom is a place to tap into the global brain. And it’s all so simple. In the hands of a creative instructor, this room almost appears to operate in 3 and 4 dimensions. A student at one end of the room end

    can view the screen of a student sitting at the opposite end of the room. An interesting and dynamic mix of

    group with individual hands-on activities becomes possible. The 21st Century Classroom will become the

    focus for innovative thinking about how best to apply technology to enhance student achievement and at

    the same time facilitate the Knowledge Exchange Program.


IV. Re-Engineering the Classroom is an Important Step Toward Re-Engineering the School

As we are about to enter the 21st Century, the substantive issues will begin to surface. What is the

    “Accountable School” in the 21st Century? The real challenge ahead will not be the technology itself. It’s

    what we use it for. To date, no country has created the educational system which the knowledge society

    demands. We need to work together to develop new specifications for the school. The technology will still

    be significant, but primarily because it should oblige us to do new things rather than because it will enable

    us to do old things better. The diagram below illustrates a conceptual infrastructure for a KnowledgeWEB


    V. S U M M A R Y

? Defining functional requirements is the first step toward re-engineering the classroom

? Re-engineering the classroom is an important step toward re-engineering the school

? We must promulgate a global vision for resource sharing and Global Knowledge Exchange.

? Education institutions around the world must move away from competition to co-opetition.

? We must shift the focus from building islands of National Information Infrastructure (NII) to a


true Global

Information Infrastructure (GII).


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