The Uniform Classroom….not what you think

When we talk about uniform we don’t mean there can’t be any personalisation, no posters, no student work, all grey walls…….. no personality. We mean that, from a technology perspective, in an ideal world each teaching room would have the same basic set of tech. For example, all classrooms would have the same capacity to evolve as and when technology does, while allowing tutors to go to any room and use any of the available technology without any unnecessary complications.

To do this you need a uniform technological base room template, so to speak.

How would it be implemented?

We’re all for trying new and emerging technologies so to keep the balance between classroom tech being the same and being static you’d employ trial and error techniques.

New tech could be tested in a beta teaching room, and when understood and found useful to teaching and learning could then be applied to all teaching rooms. I don’t mean “oh look Apple TV/Kindle Fires lets put them in every room straight away”, but that there is the physical IT capacity to have one in there where it can work at it’s maximum potential. What do we mean?…..well gone are the days of VGA cables, where you have to sacrifice sound to get picture. After all isn’t this the age of multimedia teaching? But with the previous future proofing of the room with the internal wiring and break out boxes allowing for future changes, this wouldn’t be as big as a task to implement later down the line.

So what’s the benefit for the students and teachers?

From a teaching perspective: At it’s most basic level the set up would allow for ease of use of technology due to familiarity as the tech set up is the same across every room. It also fosters confidence in using technology effectively to allow for developing digital skills, as tutors would not be put out by technical difficulties (as these would be reduced through the versatility of the rooms). Lesson plans, digital assessment, feedback and resources could be effectively implemented, allowing for further redefinition of teaching and learning.

From a student perspective: They can concentrate on their learning, as the tutor can guide them without worrying about technical glitches. It also means that the students don’t feel demotivated or disengaged due to technical difficulties. This allows for higher engagement from students to deepen their content knowledge and embed digital literacy skills.

Any issues?

Changing the rooms in which teaching and learning occurs, to be uniform, would mean that physically the whole institution would have to change from what they are now to include uniform technologically capable classrooms. To do this may mean more cost in the short term, especially in older buildings (getting the different cables in and allowing for any advancements, by keeping break out boxes easily accessible for IT to conduct further installations or changes in the future) but in the long run it would create a future proof room in which smaller changes could be made. This would allow for saved time, cost and hassle in the future.

How are we setting up our uniform rooms?

We’re currently in the process of creating this environment in the H.E and Teaching blocks in the College to allow for ease of movement for the tutors.

Our Hardware set up includes the following per room:

An Apple TV

An interactive Whiteboard (in H.E)

A projector (in the teaching block)

Breakout box for future cable connections (this can be either hidden or visible)

The Uniform Classroom is not static….

This versatility between different types of hardware (Apple and Microsoft) allows for multiple uses of the same teaching room while being inclusive of different students, in the case of the B.Y.O.D schemes. Similar set ups to this can be viewed across multiple colleges and in newer builds for colleges the idea of this version of a uniform classroom, is a predominant feature. So sometimes the idea of being uniform can be a good thing, in an age where everything is about the individual a uniform base adds a brilliant foundation for developing technology to suit everyone.

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Multimedia Teaching

What is Multimedia?

Multimedia is the combination of different media components such as text, sound, image and video. It is mainly used to present information in different formats:
“Multimedia can be used to convey information to people effectively. It has brought fundamental changes to the way people learn, play and find information.” (BBC Bitesize)
Text: A great tool for tutors to act as an inclusive mechanism and increase resource accessibility for those who have hearing issues by clear and concise information in a written format,embedding literacy skills. It’s also another way to engage students on a different level, allowing for different learning styles.

Images:  A great tool for tutors to act as an inclusive mechanism and increase resource accessibility for those who have hearing issues. It’s also another way to engage students on a different level other than simply verbally communicating, allowing for different learning styles. Here are a few examples of uses of images in education.

Audio:  A brilliant tool for tutors to act as an inclusive mechanism and increase resource accessibility for those who have visibility issues. It’s also another way to engage students on a different level other than simply visually. Here are a few examples of uses of audio in education.

There’s a few general formats out there for end product Multimedia, anything from interactive learning packages and videos to simply audio layered on top of an image.

Video killed the audio star…

After our recent visit to the BETT show 2016  we noticed there was a higher preference to using videos in learning over simply adding audio or audio only podcasts, which have previously been used. Not only were videos used to demonstrate ideas, used as a student and tutor content creation tool or simply put on for students because they were having a lazy afternoon, but it was shown about how to use them effectively in blended learning.

One of the talks that stood out to us was the ‘Mooc videos in blended learning practices by Laia Albo’ where it was highlighted that flipped classrooms were not necessarily the way forward but instead a more blended learning hands on approach would be the best way to engage students and increase student progression. This is due to the Multimedia use as an autonomous, flexible and significant learning tool. Videos were used in practical classroom sessions as an instructional aid, where the students followed the instructional videos at their own pace, while replicating the task and the tutors acted as floating facilitators who guided and assessed the students work. To us this rang true of supporting vygotsky’s zone of proximal development theory and Bloom’s taxonomy

But also brought up the idea of, if the tutors are to act as guides, for elearning or mlearning, could it be possible to incorporate the questioning assessment side of the teachers role into the video themselves?

interactive videos?

Previously interactive packages have been designed in complex, time consuming software which may not be compatible with all devices (Apple and Microsoft) This can be  off putting for teaching staff, due to time constraints, but these packages have been widely successful in their use, and though now may be dated, the concept of having interactive packages, which include multimedia components, to be used in blended learning or flipped learning seems to be the future of multimedia use in education.

Now with the introduction of HTML compatible software and websites which lets you easily create, share and reuse interactive HTML5 content online, the prominence of interactive multimedia and it’s uses in education has become much clearer. It’s the way forward, the mix between video and interactivity reflects the cultural norm of being in front a device screen and the pedagogical benefits of video learning It also allows for teachers to be able to use these platforms without having to spend hours creating the resources.

So what does this mean for teaching?

Multimedia is a way of conveying information to people, and to do that effectively it needs to be communicated through storytelling in all sectors, from primary to H.E from onsite to elearning. As teachers, this is part of what they do. Physically teaching itself is a form of multimedia, giving the media of theatre, verbal, written and live action storytelling mixed with interactive questioning through being there to communicate and teach students, to convey the information and encourage learning on the subject at hand.

The introduction of interactive videos could possibly include the assessment side for teachers/tutors to include hands on blended learning  classrooms which allows for more guided learning to occur. Helping students progress through the use of multimedia to engage different types of intelligences in learners. With this in mind teachers should embrace new multimedia technology to encourage their students to learn and be engaged with the course content.