Discussions of innovation in higher education tend to be dominated by projections on how technology will enable new forms of distance education. Yet perhaps the most valuable role technology can play is to help us reshape the traditional classroom and turn it into an active, learner-centered space. Cognitive psychology, educational research and commonsense indicates that we learn better when we act on new knowledge, when we apply new knowledge to solve problems, when we embed learning in meaningful social interactions.
The traditional classroom has obvious economic advantages that explain its overwhelming adoption around the world: it basically maximizes learner-to-faculty and learner-per-squared-meter ratios. Unfortunately, the traditional classroom can hardly deliver the type of learning experience that we know suits us best. There is great hope that a combination of smart technologies and new classroom designs will help us get there. But any alternative to the traditional classroom will need to show that it can deliver better learning outcomes at a comparable cost if it is to be broadly adopted.
The video above shows some of the work our Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence is doing to create new classroom spaces that enable and afford new forms of learning. Several faculty pioneers are already experimenting with new approaches in this space and several others are soon to become involved. Their results will be critical in helping us build the campus of the future.