There are literally hundreds of thousands of classrooms on the planet today that can successfully call themselves ‘interactive’. A few years ago this was most certainly not the case, and it took a lot of investment by governments and schools to encourage the use of both techniques and technology to create truly unique interactive learning environments. These places are buzzing with thinking and sharing, and always productive as regards attainment of the young people who sit in them. Interactive classrooms have features that fall into two distinct areas: the strategies used to teach, and the technology used to facilitate learning.
Strategies used to teach
This is not necessarily bound by budgetary constraints so it is all the more embarrassing for the school if this kind of things is not taken care of. An interactive learning friendly teaching strategy places the responsibility for learning squarely on the shoulders of the students, while the teacher simply supports or facilitates the learning that is taking place. In a truly interactive classroom therefore, you won’t see a teacher standing at the front of the room imparting knowledge for an hour. This is now the ‘old way’ of doing things and it has no place in the truly interactive classroom.
The general model is quite simple to understand. The teacher starts the lesson with a very brief introduction of a topic or learning point, and then allows the students to learn by essentially leaving them to research, discuss and discover solutions and concepts. The teacher will spend the rest of the lesson circulating around the classroom facilitating learning. This is much more effective because the learner learns for themselves, and this helps with retention and reinforcement of learning.
Once a classroom is truly interactive through good interactive strategies, then the technology comes into play. This is where technology like e-pens and tablets really help to boost the learning potential of students.
An e-pens smartpen allows a child to write their work and have it displayed on the screen. It also allows for quick editing and storage of work, so all work can be contained in one place, and then easily managed and assessed. This is the future of the recording and assessment of student work. In a truly interactive classroom the student would be able to walk around the classroom and write responses to work that he or she makes from each desk, and then communicate their responses to the computer and whiteboard at the front of the room.
The growth of tablet usage is also leading to much more interactivity in the classroom. Some schools are finding that they have the budget to buy tablets for all of their students. These devices help with interactive learning because they allow students to search for and find information, create responses in different formats and on different platforms, and generally take control of their learning.
If you walked into an interactive classroom you would see a teacher generally in the background, and students using devices to record learning and respond to tasks. If budgets are not a problem and teaching can keep up, this should be the case in the majority of classrooms worldwide, and very soon too.