Pediatricians are becoming happier people. For decades they have been warning parents and their kids about the long-term effects of carrying book bags laden with heavy texts.
Now, they are welcoming the new trend to distribute tablets to students – devices that hold all of their textbooks in a sleek, slim, low-weight venue. Their hope, of course, is that this trend will ultimately become universal. Also becoming possible with the options of cheaper tablets in the market.
This is just one way in which mobile technology is transforming learning spaces. Here are five others that are already in the works in schools and colleges all over the world.
Computer Labs Will Become Obsolete
There is no longer the need for expensive and continually depreciating hardware that has traditionally encumbered huge amounts of space. Instead, docking stations in comfortable smaller environments allow students to plug in and collaborate with one another in a much softer climate. In some schools, even docking stations are not needed. Wi-Fi technology allows a virtual computer lab in any classroom. Charging outlets are all that is needed.
Learning Can Occur Anywhere
Imagine the traditional situation when a child was ill and would be staying home from school for a few days. The teachers would gather assignments and books and carry them to the office for a parent to pick up and take home, so that the student could stay current. Now those assignments are transferred digitally, and the books are sitting in the tablet that the child has at home. This is especially valuable for the student who is out with a long-term illness. Done and done.
Virtual Classrooms and E-Learning Opportunities are Exploding
More and more, college students are given options of taking a course in the traditional classroom environment or via an e-learning classroom. And the exponential growth in learning apps which keep students organized and more efficient in their learning processes makes e-learning an attractive option. Coursework can thus be completed at the local coffee shop or while on vacation. Collaborative projects can occur with participants spread out in any number of remote locations. Indeed, entire degrees are now possible from any remote location on the planet. The long-term impact of the continued growth of e-learning has yet to be seen, but the need for expensive hardware and hardware replacement in learning labs all over campus will continue to decline.
Student Distraction at K-12 levels is Reduced
Research from Project Red, out of the One-to-One Institute, has found that putting tablets into the hands of school-aged kids engages them much more than traditional learning environments, and teachers report far fewer incidents of distraction.The other perhaps more significant result of the Project Red study is that the 1-to-1 model positively impacts test scores and graduations rates, as well as reduces disciplinary incidents.
Physical Classroom Design is Changing
Students with mobile devices, rather than cumbersome texts in their hands can physically work together far more easily. And, when they need to work independently, they need a different physical space. Physical environments of classrooms need to be flexible enough to accommodate both types of learning. Students need to be untethered from desks. As schools are replacing classroom furniture, they are now purchasing lightweight flexible furniture that can easily be moved into a variety of configurations to accommodate a large variety of learning activities.
Technology is disrupting all areas of education, from planning to delivery, to assessment, and communication. With all of these changes, thinking about classroom space itself is often neglected, if not forgotten. But that space is changing rapidly, whether it is for students physically gathered together in a classroom or for virtual classrooms in which students are scattered all over. And planning for the additional innovations that are still to come will mean still greater disruptions. Consider, for example, just how iOT, wearables, and VR may change learning environments in the very near future.