Westminster is in the middle of a campus master planning process. A design team has been asking administrators and faculty what they think they will need in our classrooms over the next 10-20 years.
I find this question nearly impossible to answer. I've taught in all sorts of classrooms. Some seat 900 movie theatre style. Others hold 10 chairs arrayed around a conference table. The room I'm teaching in this semester is cutting-edge. It includes a computer, projector, cameras, a monitor, movable tables and chairs. Our campus also includes classrooms with chalkboards, transparency projectors, and lecterns. (Those same rooms also include a computer and projector.)
These last rooms are the ones that have gotten me thinking. They are museums, if you will, of trends in educational technology. (They are also the source of a lot of good natured eye-rolling. A lectern? Come on!) But I'm not sure they've made learning better or worse.
This is of course contrary to nearly everyone's belief in the power of the classroom to shape learning. It is part of our pitch to donors (please give so we can have cutting edge classrooms). It is the source of a lot of spending (got to get those classrooms up to date). And "bad" classrooms are the source of lots of complaints.
So I'm asking--can you tell a story where a particular classroom made a difference, for good or ill--in student learning? Can you think of an instance when the classroom was so good or so bad that it had a lasting impact on the class? Or is concern about what goes in a classroom really evidence that the instruction paradigm continues to reign? If a campus was all about learning, how would we think about classrooms?
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