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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