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How does the idea of the connected classroom impact teaching and learning?

connected-classroomEvery educator wants to teach in a connected classroom, and every student wants to learn in one. But what is the “connected classroom,” and what are some of its most important features?

Ideally, the connected classroom expands on the ever-popular concept of 21st century skills and puts many “must-have” ideas into practice.

Connected classrooms have many moving parts, and each must work in sync to give students the best and most effective learning experiences possible.

(Next page: Six characteristics of a connected classroom)

1. Reliable broadband and Wi-Fi internet access

This is arguably the most important part of a connected classroom, and the first step. Without reliable high-speed internet access, student learning won’t reach new levels. Wi-Fi access throughout school buildings enables anytime, anywhere learning and encourages students to take ownership of their own education and learn outside of the classroom. Many schools are creating efforts to extend Wi-Fi access to surrounding communities so that community members, as well as students, are able to connect at home.

2. One-to-one and/or bring-your-own-device

Some districts operate both of these initiatives at the same time and allow students to bring their own mobile devices while also providing school-owned devices, either for in-school use or on a take-home basis, for students who are unable or not allowed to bring a personal device to school. When students have access to a mobile device all day, they are more engaged and are able to absorb more information. Increased technology use also gives students some of the skills they’ll need to be successful in college and the workforce.

3. Teachers who give up control

Sometimes, students know more about classroom technology than teachers do. And while students don’t always know how to apply that knowledge for educational purposes, their natural inclination leads them to explore with classroom technology and discover new and innovative ways to learn with it. Teachers must make sure students are learning, but they also must be willing to cede some classroom control and let students explore for the sake of learning.

4. Students and teachers learn together

The “sage on the stage” and “guide on the side” debate goes on. But as countless ed-tech enthusiasts, stakeholders, and experts point out, today’s students don’t necessarily learn well in a lecture format. Often, students are excited when they are able to share newly-acquired knowledge with their teachers and peers.

5. Administrative support

Principals and superintendents, and all building- and district-level, must support any school technology initiative. Because without proper leadership, and without those leaders to secure stakeholder support, most technology initiatives will falter. Classrooms need support if they are to be connected.

6. Communication and collaboration between IT and curriculum leaders

Cross-department collaboration is another important part of the connected classroom. When teaching and learning are changing, curriculum leaders must be involved. And when new technology tools are chosen and implemented in order to achieve those teaching and learning goals, IT leaders are involved. Therefore, collaboration between the two departments is instrumental in ensuring the success of a school- or district-wide effort to establish connected classrooms.

These are only a few of the many qualities a connected classroom has. What else makes a connected classroom? Leave your comments below, and let us know.

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Laura Ascione

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