Will classrooms still exist 20 years from now? Do we have traditional classrooms in a physical sense anymore? What is the classroom anyway? For most of us, a classroom consists of four walls, ‘closed’ doors, chairs, tables, perhaps a blackboard, and sometimes a desk - simple but efficient pieces of furniture. A quick glance at the history of pedagogical practices reveals that the classroom has scarcely evolved over a period of many years. Is the traditional classroom intrinsically outdated or has it rather survived the test of time because it is already self-reconfigurable and has been adapted in many different contexts of use? Do we even need a classroom anymore? Do we need a teacher in the classroom? What do we teach and what do we want pupils to learn? What kinds of knowledge and skills will be required in the future? These are some of the questions that we should bear in mind when thinking about the classroom of the future.
Over the last few decades, our understanding of learning and the conditions under which it is facilitated have substantially improved. In most contemporary theories, learning is conceived as a constructive and social activity, as a result of which the roles of the teacher and the learner within the classroom have been redefined. Development in technologies that can be used to enhance and support learning has been even more rapid. Nonetheless, it would appear that the majority of the classrooms in today’s schools and universities remain unreached by these developments. In our roles as students, parents, tax payers, policy makers, teachers, designers, or researchers, the future of the classroom is an important issue of concern to many of us. It is certainly an issue that has the potential to fire one’s imagination. It is also an issue that can unite people from various educational and vocational backgrounds or divide them even further. However, despite the wide range of ideas and perspectives on this topic, multi-disciplinary efforts to design the classroom of the future are scarce. Our presumptions surrounding the classroom are alive and well and for most of us, classrooms are something very physical. We therefore need multiple perspectives to shake up our own traditional way of thinking about classrooms and to stimulate a real discussion concerning what the classroom actually is.
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