If we don’t look at how to improve the classroom experience, we end up with a very dysfunctional approach to the modern learner where we deliver most of our learning in the classroom, but spend more time researching new technologies we almost never use.

 

Most of the research, discussion and general buzz around learning today is all about what’s going on outside of the classroom. There are so many new technologies that allow us to deliver unique, personalized learning experiences right when and where people want/need them. If we were to followthe modern learner the 70/20/10 model to the letter (or number), only 10 percent of the learning we deliver would be in a classroom setting. But the truth is, we still deliver an enormous amount of instructor-led classroom training. It has been the number one modality in our research for years, far outpacing even eLearning. The classroom is still king, and it will remain so for the foreseeable future.

But because of all the new technology and focus on informal and experiential learning, the classroom isn’t being discussed much. This is a problem, because part of the classroom’s challenge is that the experience seems outdated. If we don’t look at how to improve the classroom experience, we end up with a very dysfunctional approach to learning where we deliver most of our learning in the classroom, but spend more time researching new technologies we almost never use.

There is a multitude of technology available to enhance the classroom experience. Far from simple lectures and PowerPoint presentations, instructors now have the ability to engage learners and draw them into a more collaborative classroom environment. The global spend on edtech in classrooms is on the rise, fueling a market that is projected to reach $19 billion by 2018, according to a market study released by Futuresource Consulting.

Much of this technology is designed to facilitate the flipped class — a form of blended learning in which students learn content online by watching videos, contributing to discussion groups, and accessing resources; and the classroom is used for collaboration, scenario building and problem solving. The dynamic nature of this approach enables instructors to create effective and engaging asynchronous and synchronous learning experiences. This helps mitigate the classroom’s biggest drawback – hours of uninspiring face to face PowerPoint lectures.

Beyond how the classroom is used in the learning ecosystem, there are also ways to address the classroom itself. Many organizations and universities are having success with modular classrooms. This allows you to arrange the room into the format that works best for the task at hand, whether in a circle, small groups, lecture, etc. But the real way to take advantage of all that “butts in seats” time is with technology:

 

Big Screen Projection

The most basic screen-sharing technology gives instructors and/or learners the ability to broadcast the screen of their computer or tablet to a big screen in the classroom. Technologies like AppleTV, Miracast and Chromecast can turn any TV into a Smart TV, allowing for interactive projection of material.

Instructor/Student Screen-Sharing/Management

Beyond projecting the instructor’s screen, there are more advanced tools for classrooms where the learners are equipped with computers or tablets. Instructors can manage what the learners see on their screens, people can share screens, and they can collaborate in real-time. These platforms all share similar features such as annotation, messaging and screen lock.

Digital screen projectors

Projectors have moved beyond simply pushing images to a large screen. Users now have interactivity options, turning any display surface into an interactive white board. Some projectors require a pen or stylus for interactions; others need just finger gestures or touch.

I still believe we need to focus our energies on delivering more engaging learning experiences outside of the classroom and making the most out of informal and experiential opportunities. But if we are going to continue to leverage the classroom to the extent we do, we need to look at it with the same eye toward the future as we do these other learning experiences.

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Learning & Development, Brandon Hall Group

@DavidMWentworth

David Wentworth

David Wentworth has been a senior research analyst in the human capital field since 2005 and joined the Brandon Hall Group in 2013. He has authored reports and articles on various human capital subjects with an emphasis on workforce technology. He has contributed to several reports published by ASTD, including authoring Mobile Learning: Learning in the Palm of Your Hand, The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations, and Instructional Systems Design Today and in the Future. His work has also appeared in Compensation & Benefits Review and T+D Magazine.

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