What is a Connected Classroom?
One of the major challenges for digital teachers is finding a way to transfer what happens in their classroom into the online world. By doing this, the teacher can take a debate beyond the classroom and create a much richer learning experience through an online educational community. This is known as a Connected Classroom.
If you are more accustomed to traditional education methods, the concept of the Connected Classroom may sound challenging. However, once you engage with new technologies and teaching techniques you’ll find that you have many new possibilities to explore.
Principles of the Connected Classroom
Firstly, it’s important to note that the Connected Classroom should be seen as an extension of the physical or offline classroom. As such, the rules are essentially the same. This means the teacher should be the one to direct students at all times. This is why it is imperative that teachers are the first to adopt new technologies and integrate them into their teaching style.
In many cases this is simply not true, teachers are reluctantly drawn into new technologies by their school or even by their own students. This results in the teacher losing control of the technology and failing to effectively establish an online learning community. Therefore, teacher involvement is essential to the challenge of establishing a Connected Classroom.
Creating a Connected Classroom involves a complete change of mind about traditional education. Teachers need to create a synergy between the online and offline world. Thus what begins in the classroom can be taken to the internet to continue the dialogue and, in the same way, resources and ideas that emerged online can be transferred and discussed in the classroom.
As well as this, teachers must educate their students as to the use of these new technologies. The vast majority of students these days will be very comfortable with using a computer and navigating online. A teacher’s expertise is needed to show their students how to take advantage of these valuable online resources. Teachers will also need to illustrate ethical behaviour online so that students understand the importance of good online etiquette. The case for good Digital Citizenship is an important one and one which educators should pursue actively.
3 Ways to Implement the Connected Classroom
Now that we know the principles of the Connected Classroom, here are some ways in which it can be implemented:
1. Blogging: Many teachers are using blogs in their academic work with positive results. There are many possibilities for a school or class blog such as a blog where the teacher is the author and encourages students to participate through comments or a collaborative classroom blog where all students post articles. In any case, one of the advantages of blogging is that the activity is open to outsiders who have the opportunity to contribute to the educational community online through the blog.
2. Study Groups: Another possibility is study groups (see ExamTime’s Groups feature), which allow students and teachers to initiate discussions and share learning resources with other members of the group. This provides a wide range of possibilities as the teachers and students can collaborate with each other by sharing their study resources.
3. Social Networks: Social networks have huge potential as a way to create an educational community around new technologies. The #hashtag, for example, can create open discussions in which everyone can participate and comment on a topic previously discussed in class. Visit our article on Twitter in the Classroom if you want more info on this type of learning/teaching.
All these methods are valid individually but work much better when used together and led by an engaged and knowledgeable teacher. In this case, the possibilities are limitless and Connected Classroom learning can become a totally different process than we are all used to. Teaching and learning can become something more dynamic, rewarding and fun and this should be the ultimate goal for any teacher!
Share your Connected Classroom experiences with us! How do you and your class connect with the online world?