There has to be a change of perception, as to what a learning environment needs to look like, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that the physical appearance of the classroom needs to change. This is more about modifying the traditional classroom mindset into something that more closely works for educators, students, with the many, varied tools of today—and future.
We need to begin, from the start, thinking differently, even if many educators are still leading from the front of the class, and directing an orchestra of students in traditional fashion without, yet, the proper tools. And those proper tools aren’t a one-blueprint-fits-all either. It is quite possible that mix and match solutions can play a role in reworking the classroom into the new learning center of today.
We’ve heard that it’s not about individual devices, hardware, or solutions, but rather about changing our concepts of the learning environment—the classroom. Today that requires knowing where you are, what you want to do, where you need to go, as well as the ability to mix and match education and education technology solutions for the classroom with appropriate educational purposes. That may not be easy to understand, especially because the connotation of mix and match may be confused with the mismatched way school technology used to be, and still is to some extent.
Schools, in the past, would pretty much take whatever technology they were offered, and in whatever quantity it was offered. It’s why most classrooms had many, different types of technology, trying to work together, at the same time. That is difficult for educators, no matter how experienced they are with technology, because getting devices working together, which were not meant to work together, very simply, isn’t teaching. The unplanned mismatching of technology is not the mix and match concept of today. There is a difference. Getting many solutions, such as tablets, Chromebooks, presenters (document cameras), whiteboards, response systems, laptops, and smartphones working together, whether in a cloud environment, or a closed network environment can happen today. Technology, universally, is more compatible, and more seamless in its compatibility and uses regardless of the type of devices.
Today, schools can create the most perfect classroom learning environments by trimming the puzzle pieces a bit, or a lot, to make everything fit a solutions’ planning design based on need, and not want. Mixing and matching solutions and tools that work together should be the goal and can be done, today. Again, a plan doesn’t have to require just 24 tablets and done. An education technology plan could be 12 tablets, 12 notebooks or Chromebooks, maybe a presenter (document camera), and possibly a whiteboard, or touchscreen flat panel, various apps, and software, and possibly some response systems. These could all be connected in a closed classroom network—centered and working through a WiFi-connected teacher computer or laptop. Alternatively, everything could work through broadband and a WiFi/Cloud connection, over a secure school network—directly to the Internet. Think of the possible personalized learning and collaboration that could happen in an active classroom learning space set up like that! That would be an incredibly wonderful teaching place, as well.
Mix & Match
Furthermore, a mix and match can also allow for the rejuvenation of older and already purchased solutions to be woven together into the fabric of a new learning environment. All this can be done and contained in what may still look, to an outsider looking in, as a traditional contained classroom. Rebuilding the classroom doesn’t mean taking down the walls for teachers and students to gain access to more tools and resources. When thinking about education change, creatively rethinking the learning environment should be one of the first steps. You’ll find that when that happens, the perfect education and education technology solution puzzle pieces can be just as creatively chosen to best fit the needs of educators and students.