Closing out the month of One Post a Day ... its been a crazy experience that was even more complicated this time than when I did it back in August. It was well worth it however and I want to acknowledge those who went along for the challenge with me -- Allan, Brad, Erin in ETS and several of the students in the Schreyer Honors College as well. All of the PSU One Post a Days can be seen in a tag aggregation at the Blogs at PSU.
With that said, I'd still like to explore an idea ...
My colleague Allan Gyorke is leading a group looking at informal learning spaces on campus and they are doing some interesting work exploring spaces that are outside of our classrooms. With that in mind I wanted to ask what our classrooms should look like in higher education to embrace the future. I have a few ideas, but would love to hear more.
One thing I really think we should do is design a classroom that can project two sources to two different screens. This would allow faculty to teach with supporting content as they do now (typically PowerPoint, Keynote, or a web page), but would also engage in bringing the back channel to the front. I've done presentations and taught with a Twitter stream of a specific hashtag running behind me and it completely changes the dynamic of the room. For the most part our students have technology at their fingertips, why not work to engage them.
I'd have no problem working to socialize a tool like Twitter or the Harvard Live Question tool over the course of the first couple weeks of class. I think by doing that we'd see some really interesting things emerge. Twitter is becoming a powerful platform to do just about anything on, not sure why we aren't seeing more teaching with it ... it seems ideal as a place to engage in lots of good backchannel conversation. I think the students are ready ... if you walk past any modern classroom there is technology everywhere.
An additional thing I've been thinking about is using a blog as a real time reflective environment. Invite students to comment on a post during class and see how things emerge. When we teach too many times we ask questions and get really very little verbal engagement ... would that change if the conversation was seeded by blog comments? I am guessing yes.
To do any of this stuff you need a room to support it. I think a room that can project meaningful teaching materials as well as the backchannel is key to exploring this new way of teaching. What do you think?