6 Steps for Building a Collaboration Classroom
Building a Collaboration Classroom could be the answer for budget-strapped schools and districts finding it difficult to outfit every classroom with all the latest technology tools educators and student need today. If there’s space to add a room, by outfitting one, or possibly a few rooms in a building with many, varied instructional technology devices and solutions, it can be an educationally sound answer to moving forward. This concept isn’t new, but rather a modification of what used to be done with computer labs in the last century.
What Could a Collaboration Classroom Look Like?
While a Collaboration Classroom could take on as many looks as creatively possible, the concept should really help teachers and students accentuate and amplify collaboration opportunities in learning—in a cross-curricular and frequently scheduled way. Instead of signing out a computer lab for use with students, an educator, instead, could regularly schedule time in a Collaboration Classroom. There, teachers and students will have access to all the possible tools available in the district—or in any individual school. It is by far, easier to outfit one or two rooms for total school population use, than to completely avoid the purchase of the right learning tools and solutions for students. By doing so, it allows school and district leaders to discover what works through actual, real teaching and learning testing. That can help make individual classroom purchases more a sure thing—when that opportunity happens. Furthermore, this sort of Collaboration Classroom works well, even if a district has already set up individual classrooms in instructional technology learning spaces. Going to the Collaboration Classroom raises the bar, and it can become and career motivational meeting place for students, as well as a great professional development center.
What’s in a Collaboration Classroom?
- On the walls, or on stands, there could be one or more touch whiteboards, or possibly one or more touch screen flat panels. Spending for more than one of these displays, or a combination of them makes sense in a Collaboration Classroom like this. Interactive whiteboards are a known technology for bringing a class together as a larger group, and the latest touch flat panels fit in, perfectly, with their similar-to-tablet, but larger screen, user interface. Teachers and students will be comfortably at home touching, manipulating, and interacting with these surfaces.
- Touch screen tables are not a luxury in a Collaboration Classroom environment. They are actually a brilliant match for a Collaboration Classroom. There could be as many as six, of more in one of these rooms. They, too, have the appeal of being table look-a-likes, but in a digitally magical way. The table appearance, again, makes them user friendly within reach of every students, including those with special needs. Manipulating and interacting on, and with, a digital table, rather than on a traditional table top, will initiate many more conversations necessary for problem solving and project-base learning challenges.
- Individual student handheld devices can be part of a Collaboration Classroom as well. These can take on many forms—with varied combinations, which could include tablets, smartphones, laptops, Chromebooks, digital readers, response devices, and also student tools brought from home through a BYOD program.
- Desktops as stand-alones, in this type of collaborative environment, are welcome, too. Older desktops as well as newer, smaller, and lighter All-In-One models continue to be a viable work option at school, work, and home.
- In a Collaborative Classroom learning environment you can be as creative as you’d like with apps, software, online cloud, or networking solutions, but the most important thing may be the ability to organize, and standardize the right possibilities for a district. Those solutions can range from classroom management, to student response and feedback for learning, to tying in, and organizing all the devices, as well as all the work done on multiple devices by every student participating—as well as work in student groups, too. This is now possible in classrooms, and a Collaboration Classroom can provide opportunities to put this idea into practice. It is the perfect proving ground.
- There are other things that can be added to a collaborative environment like this, and those things may change, or be modified, too. For instance, while it may be difficult to place a 3-D printer in traditional classrooms, it could be a possibility in a Collaboration Classroom, along with imaging, audio, video, and augmented reality choices, which may include 3-D simulation glasses as well as other state-of-the-art tools and solutions.
Propose a Collaboration Classroom in Your School, or District
There are alternative ways for a district to get into instructional technology, as well as continue to develop its use with existing curricula, as well as with new and future needs and mandates. It is sometimes easy to say no to good ideas and concepts, and walk away without trying them. Because instructional technology isn’t free, looking at alternative options can be a steppingstone to more. New Collaborative Classrooms can rejuvenate primitive computer rooms and technology plans by adding a spectacularly creative and realistic instructional technology possibility for every school, or district. Investigate this idea at your next faculty, administrative council, or board of education meetings. Proposing a Collaborative Classroom might make a learning difference.
About the Author
Ken Royal is a former educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience. He has written at many of the major education publications, including District Administration, TechLearning, and Scholastic Administrator. Presently, Ken is a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is a Promethean storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.