The VPM Blog

The Learning Shift & Classroom Innovation

Posted by admin on Feb 4, 2013 4:49:58 AM

A learning revolution is budding within higher education. While MOOCS, distance learning, and mobile education are hot topics, the conversation driving everything really hinges on RESULTS. How do we prepare students and add value to an increasingly connected, high-tech, fast-tempo global economy?

Colleges and universities that fail to mount the rising attention on the academic needs and expectations of the incoming crop of millennials will join a slow race to the bottom as practical alternatives emerge in a place where students are comfortable - the digital world.

Currently, college classrooms are built for lecture and discussion that is focused on the delivery of information. Almost every student comes to class equipped with a small arsenal of portable, web-enabled devices, but the traditional classroom isn’t designed to take advantage of these tools.

However, these broken delivery systems can be modified to take advantage of today's digital environment and play to the strengths of their students.

China is doing it. Finland is doing it. And many of our own institutions (not just top tier) are taking brave steps toward classroom innovation, and consequently positioning themselves to thrive in the impending revolution.

Modern students are digital natives who are comfortable with self-directed exploration and learning with new technologies, but, sadly, most students and educators are unaware how the same technologies they use every day can enhance the interactive processes of traditional teaching.

The college experience is slowly shifting toward a blend of on and off campus experiences. While the talk about MOOCS and distance learning as an education alternative may be a little premature, the idea of focusing class time on discussion, rather than information delivery, is one worth talking about.

Mobile technology is not an additional screen to display lecture slides from the Whiteboard. Simply placing a tablet in the hands of a student will not enhance learning.

By giving students ways to collaborate and get information outside of the classroom, lecture time can become a place for peer-to-peer discussion and mentorship from professors - And this interaction is further enhanced by the use of powerful mobile tools that take the learning experience far beyond traditional note-taking.

Consider what's already developing within higher education:

Virtual Learning - The discussion of MOOCS and distance learning doesn't mean a radical disruption of proven teaching strategy or the massive shifts in the economical structure of the University (yet). But it does mean EVERY university needs an online strategy. With the progressive institutions figuring how they can provide meaningful credentials online, and, in the increasingly tough job market, students are looking for results that deliver bang for their buck.

Self Directed Learning - Changing the structure of information dissemination means that students are expected to learn on their own, developing self-discovery and problem solving. Flipping the classroom reserves time for focused learning and group work and demands that students prepare themselves in advance to be successful.

Teaching analytics - Moving learning into the digital world means that teachers will have the ability to track real-time information on student learning and performance. These dynamic online platforms are equipped to collect data from those interacting with it. Data enables instructors to tweak and adapt future plans to the needs of individual students throughout the semester - without having to wait on semi-useful surveys given once a semester.

Shared Devices - Many universities like Lynn University are requiring their incoming students to purchase an iPad mini, which will come loaded with the student’s reading and core curriculum texts. Priced at $475, the iPad mini will cost half as much as students were paying for print versions of their course readers, and they will get to keep the device.

Students using challenge-based learning and the iPad were happier with the class – and had learned more.

Take lecture material and make it come alive through rich media both in and out of the classroom for half the price of textbooks. No brainer.

Integrated Presentation Mobiles - As college and universities are redesigning the classroom to accompany the learning shift, they are making space for Integrated Presentation Mobiles - systems that makes it possible to share information from multiple devices via an integrated monitor. These systems are often positioned at custom pod-style tables to facilitate group work, and connect to the students personal devices.

Gamification of Learning - Gamification is about finding incentives to guide students on their education journey. Gamification engages the competitive drive and explorative, digital nature of Millennials and applies it to learning. Students can earn badges or take on challenges alongside the work they are already doing, which encourages them to push boundaries and earn peer status.

In last week’s article, our Head of Ops, Meredith Singer, mentioned that In order for higher education to adapt to a more agile, mobile learning environment, the right infrastructure has to be in place.

A high-tech classroom toolkit is something worth discussing, but the people — the professors and administrators and culture — must build a foundation that can support the learning revolution ahead.

And Those that mount the changing digital landscape will, not only produce excellent, sought after students, but they will a structure in place with massive scalability potential as virtual learning matures beyond the venture of a brave few.


Author: is the Social Architect and Co-Creative at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.

Topics: higher education

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