Magazine article Technology & Learning

Future-Ready Strategies to Deliver High-Impact Learning Experiences Now

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Future-Ready Strategies to Deliver High-Impact Learning Experiences Now

Article excerpt

Today's educators dream of an interconnected educational structure that merges important resources, purposes, and properties into a single productive ecosystem. Unfortunately, this vision is still a far-off dream for many. That's because in many K-12 districts, the IT department establishes the technology, the curriculum department develops the instructional methodologies, and most of the physical classroom components cither are leftovers from the mid-20th century or were purchased and deployed without consulting the instructional teams and students that will use them.

It's true that some schools and districts have broken down silos in these departments, but change seems to be taking place at a snail's pace.

At Burnet (TX) Consolidated Independent School District (CISD), we felt that one of the biggest barriers holding us back was actually a design problem. Although our schools were continuing to function very much like they did a century ago, the challenges facing our educators have dramatically changed over the course of those ten decades. In addition, the skills that students will need for future success have changed. And let's not forget that students themselves have gone through a metamorphosis: they're simply and verifiably wired differently than those of previous generations.

So with all of these factors in mind, it was time to hit the "redesign" button. We decided to break down the silo approach in the fall of 2016 when we chose to pilot the Inspired Classroom project. Utilizing an infusion of technology, high-impact classroom furniture, teachers' creativity, and student and community input, we created classrooms that look, feel, and operate differently than traditional models. These changes have resulted in new culture of learning.

The following are four strategies we implemented to create smarter school spaces that deliver high-impact learning environments for our students.

1. The Survey Says! Prior to receiving their Inspired Classroom spaces, teachers and students in the pilot classrooms took a ten-question survey. They were asked to react to statements like:

* The furniture in my classroom helps me to learn

* The furniture in my classroom is comfortable

* We move the furniture around in my classroom

* I get to work together with other people in my classroom

* The furniture helps me use technology in my classroom

The same survey was given again three months later. Interestingly, before the installation, 43 percent of all students surveyed felt that the classroom furniture had no impact on how they learned. After using the new furniture for three months, 88 percent of the students felt that the furniture helped them learn. In fact, two out of three students felt the furniture had a significant beneficial impact on their learning.

2. Meet and Greet. We brought department ambassadors together, from technology to facilities to teachers, to consider holistic redesign approach. Our project began with a meeting with pilot participants from six schools in September 2016 to share ideas and talk about lesson plans that would take advantage of the new furniture and technology offerings we would be deploying with the help of MeTEOR Education. We defined strategic drivers for the initiative, outlined goals, and determined what criteria we would use to measure and define success. …

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