For millennia, the classroom essentially revolved around teachers. Students came to class, sat down, and faced the educator. The flow of interaction was primarily teacher to student, with little need for reciprocity. As such, classroom tools and technologies also focused on primarily serving the needs of teachers, while student-centered tech boiled down to desks and chairs.
However, with advancing technology, societal trends, and of course recent events, classrooms are becoming increasingly student-centered. Education and learning demand more flexible models to accommodate a growing range of topics and also new teaching models such as blended, hybrid, and remote attendance. All of these put the emphasis on students, more so than before. Current learning trends call for students to engage more with each other and teachers as opposed to traditional teacher-focused classrooms, where students were more passive and often simply learned by rote.
That has changed over time. Experience shows kids and learners in general absorb and retain knowledge better when engaged and active. That kind of engagement means classes no longer exist as channels for teachers to impart knowledge in a sort of one-way street. Classes now exist to enable engagement and exchange, and that requires good technology and tools to make the most of.
The biggest differentiator is the logical structure of the class. Students are encouraged to express themselves and teachers shape the curriculum with greater consideration for student interests. That’s a big change from the previous top-down model of education that tended towards a “one size fits all” approach. Grading is also much more personalized and less rigid, and classes can get far livelier than the passivity associated with traditional learning spaces. Students don’t just listen and answer questions once in a while. They’re actively encouraged to be inquisitive and engaged.
Team work is another big change. While group work exists in traditional classrooms, it’s not a priority and often simply used to keep students from literally falling asleep. In student-centered classes, collaboration forms a major staple of learning. Students help each other and spend much of their time interacting among themselves rather than just with the teacher.
In addition to being more engaged in learning and thus better retaining knowledge, students also benefit from being trusted more and having greater autonomy. Previous teaching models had students almost entirely reliant on educators, but student-centered learning encourages initiative and as such helps learners become more independent and confident.
New teaching modalities place growing importance on projects and goal attainment, not just grades. This helps prepare students for later stages of life, most notably professional careers. And while traditional learning often settled for remembering page numbers in a textbook, new trends rely on critical thinking, active inquiry, peer-to-peer collaboration, and social skill engagement. All of these prove incalculably valuable for students as they move towards entering society at large.
Because student-centered classes are so divergent from teacher-focused classrooms, the very setup and structure must change. That applies doubly when talking about blended and remote learning.
Traditional classrooms, even modern ones, are quite simple. One screen or surface to write on, one projector, one laptop, and so on. The frequent appearance of “one” makes sense, because the focus was almost entirely on a single person, that being the teacher. That’s insufficient for student-centered classrooms, because educators want to bring students into the conversation and increase engagement, so the tools used must adapt. The technology employed further needs to enable extensive collaboration and provide a basis for proactive engagement on the part of students, who are no longer expected to be passive knowledge sponges.
Much of the emphasis is now shifting to BYOD, or bring your own device. Whenever possible, students are encouraged to use their smartphones, tablets, and laptops to engage with teachers and more importantly, with each other, either in pairs or in groups. Again, this is even more evident for students taking part remotely, as they need their own devices to attend classes virtually.
Another interesting aspect is that students are encouraged to explore knowledge independently and find additional resources through their personal devices. This requires student-centered classrooms to be fully online and cloud enabled. And because much of the classwork takes place on student devices, a need for many-to-one tools emerges, the opposite of the one-to-many model of traditional classes. In other words, there’s a requirement to screen mirror student devices to a focal display that the entire class can access and engage with. That calls for a large screen, as it needs to be visible to everyone, and wireless mirroring from student devices to said large screen. Wireless presentation systems now offer these capabilities, with good models providing dedicated Wi-Fi and extreme speeds that prevent time-sapping delays. It also stands to reason that student-centered classrooms should avoid cable clutter, so tools have to be almost entirely wireless by design, as well as very simple to use, with no complex setup or a lengthy power-on process.
It’s all good and well talking about student-centered learning and moving gradually away from dated teacher-focused classrooms. But without the right tools, it’s not easy to do and in many cases may prove impossible. In addition to changes in methodology, schools and educators should remember to evolve the technology they use to implement change. Because without the right tools, classroom evolution remains a theoretical concept, while to experience benefits it must be put into practice.
To learn more about BenQ technologies that facilitate student-centered learning, get in touch with our team by dialing 888.818.5888 or connect via chat by clicking on the chatbox on the lower right on your screen. Alternatively you can leave us your contact information below. We will reach out to you.
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