Flickr: Corey Leopold
By Greg Stack
So much about how and where kids learn has changed over the years, but the physical structure of schools has not. Looking around most school facilities — even those that aren’t old and crumbling – it’s obvious that so much of it is obsolete today, and yet still in wide use.
1. COMPUTER LABS. Students are connected to the Internet everywhere except in school. Regardless of their income bracket, most kids carry around a world of information in their pockets on their mobile devices, and yet we force them to power down and disconnect, and we confine them in obsolete computer labs. A modern school needs to have connectivity everywhere and treat computers more like pencils than microscopes.
At Northern Beaches Christian School students learn everywhere.
2. LEARNING IN PRESCRIBED PLACES. When you ask people to remember a meaningful learning experience from high school, chances are the experience didn’t take place in a space designed for learning. Working in groups, while on a trip, while doing a project or learning while talking with friends — those are the lasting, meaningful learning experiences. Yet we don’t design schools to accommodate these activities and focus only on the formal spaces.
3. TEACHER-CENTERED CLASSROOM. Classrooms were designed for lecture and crowd control, with the teacher as the central figure of knowledge and authority. The teacher had knowledge to impart through direct instruction and the current classroom structure works pretty well for this. This basic classrooms structure is the same, though in some schools, the chalkboard has been replaced by the interactive “Smart Board.” In progressive classrooms, the structure has changed: small groups of kids working, project work, and student presentations require rethinking this model.
4. ISOLATED CLASSROOMS
. Tony Wagner of the Harvard School of Education and the author of the Global Achievement Gap says: “Isolation is the enemy of improvement” and yet most schools Continue reading
Mobile cart carrying iTouch and netbooks
Imagine if at your workplace, you had to sign up to use a computer during an allotted time in a computer lab.
Sounds bizarre when you think of it in those terms, but that’s the system that some say we’ve set up for most of our middle school and high school students who don’t have access to computers in the classroom, where most of the work is done.
“Computer labs are outdated, as is the idea that computers are something separate from learning, like typewriter labs,” said Joel Rose, CEO of New York’s School of One at the Education Nation conference in September. “Learning technology is not a vocation. Technology is not the ‘it.’ Technology is the fundamental enabler of education.”
At the Acalanes School District in the Bay Area, there are labs specifically allotted for computer-dependent classes such as video production, photography, and computer-aided design that accommodate students in those elective classes. But for teachers who want students to use computers for work in English, world languages, science, or history, there are not enough slots in the drop-in computer labs to accommodate everyone. So district leaders have found a way to deliver the technology to students with the use of mobile carts. Continue reading