Intelligent Classroom – The List

I’ve received about a dozen comments on the Intelligent Classroom post last month and several emails. Many of you questioned whether we should be discussing the technology at all while others mentioned that sometimes it is about the technology. There was also some mention of technology that we should be rid of… like filters. I appreciate all your comments and suggestions for what you’d like to see in an Intelligent Classroom. I took the liberty to highlight some general base technologies that the majority felt important in a classroom for 21st Century Learning along with some commentary by yours truly, so without further adieu…

  1. Computers – While several mentioned an ideal 1:1, others mentioned 2:1 student to computer ratios, this may take more time, but in the meantime, teaching can be structured to take advantage of the 4:1 or 5:1 rations common in classrooms. Remember the computers available throughout the school and that out of school students may have access as well.
  2. DVD/Video Player – may be a thing of the past with online video, but let’s not throw this out completely, Computers that have DVD drives are ideal as long as they are hooked to the following…
  3. Projector – while ceiling mounted is ideal, having one is important for presenting multimedia in an engaging and stimulating way. Who wants to huddle around my 15.4 inch screen?
  4. Large Display – a TV monitor, pull screen or whiteboard is necessary with a projector
  5. Speakers – it amazes me that some computers in our schools do not have speakers installed, audio for video, podcasts, music or voice chat enhances a classroom.
  6. Microphones – quality microphones can record class discussions/lectures/presentations for later playback or be used for creation of audio and video files that demonstrate learning and understanding.
  7. Digital Cameras – still, video and web cameras – it’s about creation and documenting learning and these tools are popular for conveying feeling and stories. While these may be shared around a school, having enough available for daily use in many classrooms is necessary.
  8. “Open” Internet Access – “open” refers to the ability of network administrators to open up filters or blocks in a way that meets the needs of learners in a timely request by teachers. One of my understandings is that, at least in the US, there are regulations on funding that require schools to have filters in place. If these regulations are not met, then schools/districts jeopardize funding sources for future technology. What needs to change with filters and blocking is the ability to lift these filters/blocks when requested for responsible use. The procedures for doing so should be quick and easy for network technicians. Of course, teachers, you need to consider their time and not expect a last minute request to be honored on the spot. There is some give and take here.
  9. Web 2.0 Tools – I grouped blogs, podcasts, wikis, social networks here. I think this talks more to the teachers and administrations that are often misunderstood. One commenter added that his district purchased blocks for BlackBoard that didn’t include many of the features that truly define the read/write web experience. Imagine your blog with no RSS feed, no connections, as just a static webpage. Is it fear or misunderstanding?
  10. Printer/Scanner – Tim over at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub (BTW – one of the best blog names I’ve seen) reminded me in his post about printers and scanners in the classroom.
  11. (NEW) Telephone – yes, a telephone. I’ve been in classrooms that don’t have the ability to dial outside of the school. The problem with this is that learning sometimes needs to reach outside the walls of the building and not necessarily through the web.

  12. Added last two after several comments and blog posts were added

Feel free to respond with anything you feel I have left out (just remember, I’m a male and human). The intent of this post was not to say that the tools are more important than the teaching strategies and practices that encourage and inspire learning, but to identify tools that we already have that can help meet needs of 21st Century students.

Oh, did you know that 8% of the 21st Century is nearly over?

8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I am so grateful to work in higher ed where I don’t have to deal with filters! I struggle enough when I have to run upstairs to unblock something for my daughter. I can’t imagine dealing with that for entire schools.
    Your post has me thinking about the computer ratios in schools. I worked for a pT3 grant 6 years ago and there was a strong push for more computers in classrooms. Now I wonder if that is necessary. Thinking about an entire classroom sitting at computers doing the same thing seems like a thing of the past. I remember when we had to teach people every little detail of computer use, but now, much of it is intuitive.
    Students are learning on their own. With Web 2.0, the participatory part of learning is happening beyond the classroom walls. I think a classroom with a variety of tools such as handheld devices, cameras, a few computers, and just a general mix, would work well.

  2. Jen,
    I have my doubts about 1:1 myself. I’m even thinking that it isn’t necessary. With mobile computers, I think that students in many districts will be carrying their own and won’t even want to use a school filtered computer. This may be way off for some schools, and it doesn’t address the digital divide, but more and more teachers are acquiring their own machines to use. It’s only a matter of time before we have students asking if they can bring their own laptops/tablets into class.

  3. I hope you’ve submitted this to all the education carnivals, especially the big one.

    Let me give a strong second to the motion on speakers. Irving ISD, where I happily camped for three years, puts in a decent sound system with each projector, and every classroom has a projector. These are also excellent for other audio use, generally (though the projector must be on, burning precious bulb time). In four other districts here around Dallas, I have not found another so prescient, including Duncanville with its $75 million technology initiative — sound is not technology? Anyway, the amazing Rube Goldberg things the teachers have done to get around the problem are a tribute to the genius and drive of teachers who smash through barriers, and a sad commentary on just how far behind we have fallen in our race to deliver education with the best tools.

    In one class I covered, the scheduled video could not be heard through the sound system provided; one kid offered his stereo-equipped telephone (not iPhone) if it would help — if we’d had the correct cables, that might have been a better solution.


    School district technology administrators: there is your shopping list. Stores are open tomorrow.

  4. I kind of like to see interactive white boards, handheld remote sensors and the slates that can be passed around in the room (i am most familiar with the Promethean brand–the ActivBoard, Activote, and ActivSlate). I have seen some very strong interactive teaching with these tools.

    I too have been coveting for a very long time document cameras, which I think have a place in the 21st century classroom.

  5. Web 2.0 is an environment that is interactive and reflects personal nuances of the person at the computer. An intelligent classroom weaves together everything on this list in such a way that makes a personal, student-centered, environment.

    Our challenge is to convince folks the intelligent classroom is not about more spotlights, glitz, and glamour for the sage on the stage, rather it is on creating learming 2.0 environments that centers on the individual needs of students….great blog!

  6. In a sense, Bret, that’s straight from the “horses mouth”. Your statement that “an intelligent classroom weaves togehter everything on this list in such a way that makes a personal, student-centered, environment” sums it up nicely.

    One of my goals for this series of posts was to help educators realize the potential for increasing communication and collaboration with the tools that already exist within their classrooms, if not, within their school or district.

    Always nice to have a comment from you. Thanks.

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