Throwing out the teacher’s desk


New technology – traditional pedagogy

Most classrooms have the technology, but does that mean that they have new ways of organizing the classroom? Or are the students still seated in rows with the teacher in the front? In our school, we like to stress that the teacher should move around and not stand in the front of the class, or worse sit in front of the desk behind the computer while the students are working. In this article I found in EdSurge News from Australia written by Kelli Anderson, they have reinvented the classrooms. It looks new and cool, but is it working? I guess to make it work it would require a new mindset, a new way of thinking about teaching and learning,  both from the teachers and students’ perspectives.

When Central Coast Grammar School (CCGS) refurbished a block of classrooms recently, it installed wireless screen mirroring technology in every room. Then the Australian K-12 school did something really radical. “We literally threw out our teachers’ desks,” says Damon Cooper, an English teacher and the director of teaching and learning at CCGS, in New South Wales. “There are just classrooms, and we can teach from anywhere within them.” He explains, “we’ve physically centered the room around the children. It’s not a theory; it’s not a philosophy; it’s not an approach. Literally, physically, the children are the center of the classroom.” We literally threw out our teachers’ desks.

Wireless screen mirroring, which allows the projection and sharing of device screens without cables, doesn’t just free teachers from worrying about what became of the HDMI cord or which dongle goes with which tablet. It eliminates the need for them to be glued to the front of the room—and the imperative to stand and deliver. Cooper calls wireless screen mirroring a game changer

This changes not only how students are seated, but how students are working together. As the teacher in the article says; we move towards student-centered and cooperative learning. I am including the video they made here in case you get some new ideas you would like to adopt in your school. Granted this might set you back a few dollars/kroner, but might it be worth it?

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4 comments

  1. Great post!

    We constantly underestimate the role of our environment in shaping our behaviour. Changing our classroom environment is the first step in rethinking education as a one-way flow of information from one teacher to multiple students.

  2. Hi Ann,
    Thanks for linking to that article about our Next Generation Learning Spaces. I’m the Director of ICT and designed the (unique) Copper Mesh Shielding that allows much more wifi bandwidth than can typically be delivered, which in turn enables the multiple screens to run independently-sourced HD video simultaneously. I created the first video you linked to which shows the space on a fly through with some features highlighted, and also this video from the educators that designed and now use the new spaces:

    The total additional cost for the copper shielding was AU$40,000 (half for material, half for the install) which is ~AU$5,000 per shielded classroom. Each room has 2 AP’s, and of course there is the cost of the screen or projector, plus the Vivi for each.
    I have watched the teachers use the new spaces and it’s amazing. The ability to team-teach in large double rooms, the fantastic visual learning and showing thinking visually capabilities, the collaboration options, and above all extreme flexibility of the spaces make it an absolute game changer. I would definitely say it is worth the investment.

  3. Thanks for engaging with the exciting work we’ve been doing here at Central Coast Grammar School. It has been an interesting and rewarding experience for our staff and our students. You are completely correct in your comment that “it would require a new mindset, a new way of thinking about teaching and learning, both from the teachers and students’ perspectives”. By changing the way we think about teaching and learning we have been able to generate some very positive results. In particular, we’re seeing higher levels of engagement, more authentic collaboration, more purposeful use of digital technology, and a rise in the amount of incidental feedback.
    Obviously, the changes are multi-dimensional – environmental, technological and pedagogical – and so are the impacts.

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