This semester, I’ve had the privilege of teaching a seminar on game-based learning research in Teachers College’s Smart Classroom Prototype. As soon as you spend a few moments in the room, you quickly realize that this is no ordinary classroom. You’re greeted by two large touchscreen panels, four displays, video cameras that enable videoconferencing, versatile furniture including modular whiteboard surface walls, chairs that can convert into tables; tables that double as whiteboard surfaces…
It’s been a useful environment that promotes the values that I’m trying to promote for the course: experimentation, collaboration, tinkering, and exploration of the cutting edge developments in interactive learning technology and game-based learning. In my game design course last semester, I experimented with using game principles and applying them to the classroom in order to foster a mastery orientation and 21st century skills such as creativity, problem-solving and an entrepreneurial learning mindset. This time around, I’ve been experimenting with newer modes of communication and various technology tools during class, including a live Twitter feed for the class that allows students to ask questions and share links to relevant and useful resources during class discussion. The whiteboards have been useful for collaborative concept mapping and allowing students to critique each others’ work.
So far students have enjoyed the space, and I would say it has fostered improved collaboration, common ground and distributed cognition.
With so much innovation originating from the mobile consumer electronics and online informal learning space, part of me wonders if this smart classroom prototype needs to project even farther into the future. As gamification of education, augmented reality apps, wearable computing devices, learning apps, MOOCs and new models of education become increasingly mainstream, it will be interesting to see how this classroom will be able to support any changes in the coming years.
I would love for there to be some easier modes to display information from personal devices (something like Apple’s AirPlay technology), and perhaps some interesting new gestural interaction technology, such as the Leap Motion device. More reflections soon as I have them.