A 10th-grader enters her classroom, flips open her Chromebook and then settles into a quiet corner to work.
In another part of the room, a group of her peers gather on a couch to collaborate on a project.
A teacher is there to guide the students when needed and circulates throughout the room to answer questions. He broadcasts a math question from the interactive screen to each device and asks the students to help solve it.
This is an example of a modern learning environment, and in an ideal world, students here receive personalized instruction that results in better classroom performance.
Modern classrooms are open and flexible and have writable surfaces, modular furniture, one-to-one devices, hands-on learning with makerspace activities and robust broadband connectivity.
“Everything is built toward an open environment and geared toward collaboration,” says Scott Harris, Neosho (Mo.) School District’s technology director. “We have more group-based learning going on, but we also accommodate individual instruction. Our goal is to enhance learning, and it works. Students are more engaged, and schools have better retention.”
The 'Modern Classroom' Movement Is Growing Fast
Neosho has joined the growing trend of creating flexible classroom environments to support personalized or blended learning.
In a 2017 study by Blackboard and Project Tomorrow, 57 percent of teachers in blended learning environments said that technology has helped their students collaborate more with their peers, while 48 percent said that digital tools help students take greater ownership over their studies.
Like Neosho, Cherokee County School District in Georgia is creating a modern learning environment — this time, using audiovisual and tactile equipment. According to Samsung America, 83 percent of teachers believe that virtual reality could improve learning outcomes.
Cherokee County schools are well on their way to finding out if that’s right. It’s clear that educators using traditional teaching methods — tied to the chalkboard in the front of the classroom — have some catching up to do with districts like Neosho and Cherokee County.