ENP Capstone Blog

classroom of the future

week 1 of 26 of my stint as a blogger!

Hi, I’m Tess. Here’s a place for me to collect my thoughts and share articles that inspire me related to our Engineering Psychology capstone. As our class discovered this week, we will be working to design the classroom of the future, lead by Professor Intriligator http://sites.tufts.edu/classroomofthefuture/. After 3 years in college and 17 years in classroom settings, it’s surprising how few extensive conversations my friends or I have had about what makes classrooms successful or how little seems to have changed between when my cousins were in college 10-15 years ago and now.

Though technology available for and used in classrooms has been changing rapidly over the last several decades, lecture styles and tradition classroom setups seem to have frequently resisted this change. We still have many courses taught with students sitting in rows, writing down verbatim what the professor articulates and jots down on the board. Why is this? How to do we use technology and spatial organization to rework classroom engagement and productivity? How do we help students learn and encourage clear communication?

Within the last week, I’ve been asking some of my friends about a great class experience they’ve had and what made it standout. A lot of what they alluded elements that aligned with the MUSIC model. They wanted dynamic classrooms, where professors do not just stand in front of slides every week. This is easier to add to some courses or majors of course. However, they appreciated it the most when the professor would talk to the students and leave flexibility in the course plan, so it could be adapted to what the class wants the most time discussing and strongly reacts to rather than an entirely restrictive, pre-determined model.

They said their worst class experience was in a course that felt like the professor was just getting through teaching while wishing they could get back to doing their own research. Though a hopefully rare example, this kind of professor can give students the impression that they do not expect much from them. This often seems to encourage students to display apathy. We need to reframe the narrative, remind everyone that failure is survivable, discussion and working through problems is productive and necessary, and that we each have personal accountability over what we get out of our education.

In response to my questions about classroom setups, my friend asked the table in return about our qualities we most want in friends and mentors. Everyone listed a variation of honesty and authenticity, respect, communication, sense of purpose. When I studied abroad in Denmark, professors demanded that we call them by their first names. They frequently went out to dinner with students and gave more general life advice. They spoke to their life experience and journey, not just their expertise. It felt unnatural to me for a while, and I am not implying that this is inherently better or even feasible for all American college classrooms. However, I think the goals of the classroom should consistently be evaluated or reaffirmed.

When evaluating values, schools have taken different routes. One school picked teaching empathy as a core value https://www.thelocal.dk/20150812/danish-classrooms-are-built-for-empathy-and-happiness. Another prioritized teaching 21st century skills through technology use and limited classrooms at all. I’m not behind this idea for age groups in this article at this point, but it’s interesting to see some schools around the world taking this approach https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/canada-competes/no-classrooms-and-lots-of-technology-a-danish-schools-approach/article12688441/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com& . Many people agree that the college classroom is similarly going to be drastically altered in the near future https://www.fastcompany.com/3046299/this-is-the-future-of-college. I’m not entirely convinced by some of these predictions, but I think one thing that has begun to change and should continue to is communication structure between professors and students.

In recent years, employee feedback systems have changed quickly at many consulting and tech companies. Many are becoming more casual and frequent, rather than annual or bi-annual reviews. This allows more real-time changes and mutual benefit, with employers benefiting from increase employee productivity and employees feeling seen and heard, as is referenced in this HBR article and has many points that could benefit college professors and students https://hbr.org/2016/01/can-your-employees-really-speak-freely.

first thoughts, may change next week. tbd

1 Comment

  1. Yes! Let’s reframe the narrative!

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