New technologies have crossed our houses, our offices, our services, and have finally reached our schools. Now, it is uncommon for a teacher to provide lesson to his class without a computer on his desk. Sometimes, some of them even desert their classroom to give these new distance lessons we call e-learning. Indeed, this new learning model offers the indisputable strength of flexibility. Now, student can choose what, when and how he wants to learn. However, distance-learning cannot certainly answer a question as quick as a physically present teacher. So how to combine both? Do teachers enjoy same benefits that e-learning offers? Several recent digital projects give an idea about what classroom of the future would look like.
ClassDojo: turn class into community
While internet allows people to instantly interact whatever the distance between them, some schools took the decision to improve communication inside and outside the classroom through a new digital model. ClassDojo, an educational communication application, is based on interaction between teacher, students and parents during the class. The tool includes a Facebook-like timeline which allows to communicate through texts, pictures and videos. That way, doting parents can follow their children during the eight-hour length scholar day.
The application also highlights a points system in which a student can be rewarded with one “working hard” point, or one “living” point, depending on one of 7 behavior categories. ClassDojo finally proposes several activities to encourage students to debate. It is based on a user-friendly design to save teachers time. No data entry are required. The program has already been tested in 70% of British schools, according to ClassDojo, but data are too recent to be studied. Even if testing are still ongoing, ClassDojo showed how gamification can serve to engage users as a community.
Recent studies showed that video is growing significantly in classrooms. Video appears as an efficient way to share knowledges because it is the first form of entertainment for youths today. It also encourages speaking at school owing to its sound features. However, teachers mainly use video subjectively and for any reasons which makes its usage at school quite confusing.
The franco-german tv channel Arte, specialized in documentaries, just launched an interactive VOD platform to schools: Educ’Arte. The video library has more than 800 documentaries classified in several categories depending on the discipline and the academic level. Besides struggling against illegal streaming, Arte wants to give students and teachers access to culture numerically through a playful educational tool. Educ’Arte offers a range of features for the teacher to adapt documentaries to his lessons such as video editing, quiz editing and lesson plans. Students can also use mind-mapping shareable with the whole class.
The platform is currently experimented on 500 French schools and hundreds of German schools. Pooling medias and breaking down the educational barriers appears like a successful way to share knowledge, to revolutionize teaching.
Deck.Toys and the breakout games
What if learning was a game? Deck.Toys, a classroom engagement platform, allows teachers to create their own interactive lessons. Looking like a game editor, the website proposes an important toolkit to edit gamified exercises for students. On the canvas, teacher can create his own game, drawing paths with crossing point-like exercices that players have to solve if they want to escape. Flashcards, quiz, presentation slides, mazes, math exercises, as many way a teacher needs to make his class interactive and active.
The platform extends its “breaking game” concept much further by allowing teachers to turn classrooms into real playgrounds. In the style of the new educational escape rooms, students have to investigate classroom for clues, the only way to solve teacher’s riddles. The whole point of using Deck.Toys is the capacity for the teacher to collect data about his class. That way, the latter can save time to personalize their classes with specific data depending on his own students. This could help to create a more diverse education system with more creative control for teachers and schools.
Digital seems to be part of the basic teacher toolkit now. Whether it changes class into community, it shares plenty of knowledges freely or it turns classroom into playground, digital interactivity allows to think learning differently. Classroom of the future will certainly be flexible and will allow much more freedom to its teachers although it is still early to assess the effects of its new tools.