The Future of Classroom Learning

The death of the classroom has been announced repeatedly since the first CD-ROM found its way into a desktop computer, but here we are in 2018, and the classroom is still going strong. Instead of going away, the classroom is evolving to work alongside new technologies and meet the needs of the digital workforce. It’s a topic I’m looking forward to discussing at this year’s REACH event by VitalSmarts, being held February 5-7 in Salt Lake City.

Year after year, Brandon Hall Group’s research finds that the classroom is the number one way companies deliver learning to their employees. Other modalities and technologies have grown in popularity and adoption, but never at the expense of the classroom. Organizations find the classroom to be one of the most effective ways to deliver learning and are looking for ways to keep the experience relevant and engaging during learning’s digital transformation.

The advent of new technologies in learning – social, mobile, virtual, etc. – has given organizations an opportunity to really sharpen the classroom experience. There is no longer a need for companies to plunk 100 people down in seats and talk at them for an hour. Lectures can be delivered in video formats and watched at convenient times. Learners do not have to walk into a classroom cold, not having familiarity with the content, the facilitator, or their peers. Social networking allows groups to come into the classroom ready to work and learn together, having already connected.

There is a multitude of technology available to enhance the time in the classroom itself. Far from simple lectures and PowerPoint presentations, instructors now have the ability to engage learners and draw them into a more collaborative classroom environment.

Much of this technology is designed to facilitate the flipped classroom — a form of blended learning in which “instruction” occurs online, and actual work is done in class with instructors and learners discussing and solving questions. The dynamic nature of this approach enables facilitators to create effective and fun asynchronous and synchronous learning experiences. As flipped learning becomes more prevalent, the distribution tools and video streaming that are central to this approach must be optimized for interactivity. Features such as powerful analytics that measure student responses and mobile learning capabilities will become the hallmarks of the best flipped classrooms.

Mobile devices, once seen as a tool to end classroom learning, are becoming indispensable tools for the classroom. Learners can share the screens of their tablets or phones to facilitate collaboration. Classroom collateral can be downloaded, rather than printed and distributed. Engagement and participation can be facilitated and measured with mobile apps. Many organizations are even using mobile devices for assessments and attendance tracking. Even traditional staples of the classroom like projectors are evolving. They feature interactivity tools as well as gesture control and multiple simultaneous input devices.

Between physical set-up and emerging technologies, the classroom has been changing dramatically. The goal is to make the most of the time learners spend face-to-face with instructors and their peers. There is a focus on making the classroom experience:

  • Immersive
  • Collaborative
  • Extroverted
  • Experiential
  • Fun
  • Engaging
  • Progressive
  • Inspirational
  • Designed around the learner

Using the classroom to focus on collaboration, problem solving and hands-on application of knowledge is the key to the future of the classroom.

David Wentworth, Principal Learning Analyst, Brandon Hall Group