Talking about the classroom of the future, people tend to think that technology is the most important part of it. I thought that this time, I am going to take a moment to talk about the pedagogical idea behind the classroom of the future and why I think that technology is not as important as one may believe. The most important part of the classroom of the future is the pedagogical concept behind it. The concept itself derives from the Future Classroom Lab in Brussels. The European Schoolnet put together the findings of a number of European projects tackling pedagogical concepts of the future.
The Future Classroom At A Glance
The basic idea is to divide the pedagogical interaction into six steps. These steps are called learning zones and are: Interact, exchange, investigate, create, present and develop. In principle, we are moving more towards a self-determined pedagogical interaction that involves a lot more teamwork. The traditional classroom is orientated towards a structured approach by the teacher and is highly individual. The closest thing to a traditional classroom is the Interaction-setting. A smaller group of students receives input and explanations from the teacher. In the Exchange-zone, students collaborate with one another and tackle problem solving and critical thinking skills. The Investigate-environment is about tackling a research question either resulting from the interaction with the peers or given by the teacher.
In the Create-zone, videos, presentations and other forms of presenting are generated by the students. In the Present-zone, findings are communicated with the peers and students are able to learn from one another. Lastly, one can find the Develop-setting. This setting is highly individual and rather self-structured. It provides a quiet space for the students to elaborate things on their own.
Did anyone mention how important technology is, yet? It is. But it has nothing to do with the pedagogical concept behind the classroom interaction. If we are able to see the role of technology as supportive of the pedagogy, we are fine. Technology should be seen as the pencil we use whenever necessary. Of course, all learning zones described could be enhanced by technology and moving forward, the use of technology should be taught in order to teach the competences necessary for the 21st century. But remember: Technology could be thrown into the classroom - it is there. Skills need to be taught.
Teaching Skills Rather Than Content
Behind the classroom of the future stands the idea that content and technology are subjected to constant changes. Skill sets are not. They are just broadened. And in order to teach the skills required for any task in the future, the classroom needs to adapt to what is happening outside of school. That is the main reason why the pedagogical interaction is spread out in the spectrum of the chart displayed. The next step would be to shift towards tasks and research questions rather than school subjects. But that is for another time …