What Is the 'Classroom of the Future?'

The answer is far from simple, as the classroom of the future can neither be prescriptive nor a sole solution. Simply put, there is not and cannot be one single "classroom of the future."

Here's why.

Learning and the classroom are far too dynamic, with a variety of inputs that are often complex and conflicting. Faculty and pedagogy are two of the more significant dynamics. How the classroom will be navigated (or not) along with the degree of informal and team-based activities and dialogue come into play. Faculty are one of the -- if not single most -- critical elements to classroom success.

Students, of course, add another high degree of dynamics and complexity. Student learning has many facets, including not only personal learning styles and needs, but also preferred forum or medium for learning. That leads us to a third critical area of inputs, communication and technology.

How will the communication flow and transfer to create an engaging learning environment? What "play" can and should technology have? Space and the design of the same can only follow if a battery of questions to uncover and lead to the optimal understanding of the aforementioned dynamics and often many others are achieved.

The distinct goals and applications within the classroom must drive the design and related configuration. Conventional wisdom provides directional needs such as daylight, personal space, ventilation, ergonomics, etc. But the real and optimal classroom of the future resides with a clear understanding of the objectives of the campus, the faculty facilitating the learning, student needs and success criteria, the discipline of interest, and the medium for communication and engagement within.

Only then will a balance of all inputs deliver a "set-for-success" environment that when deployed to a learning partnership of faculty and students is the optimal "holy grail" learning space.

Amy Kiefer is vice president, Education Market, for KI.

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