How to Design a Tech-Powered Classroom
Ten years ago, the idea of every student having a laptop in school was unfathomable. Today, almost every district boasts 1:1 device-to-student programs, though in some cases, tablets are found collecting dust in the corner of classrooms. Whether we like it or not, technology is now a part of everyday school life. At room2learn, we advocate for students using technology to create rather than just consume. We’ve travelled across the country, taking notes on how innovative educators are incorporating tech into their teaching spaces.
Today, we’re going to share some design tips to help you use technology in the classroom more effectively.
Let’s get started!
Lay It Out
Let’s start with layouts. Gone are the days of dedicated computer labs. Classrooms are moving towards mobile laptop carts and/or computer stations. While mobile is the most flexible, desktop stations allow for easy monitoring of screens, and students can work side-by-side. You can recreate this table set up in a corner of the room, or have rows lining the walls of the classroom.
If you have space by a window or wall, you can #StarbucksMyClassroom simulate a cafe-style work bar, like this one below at High Tech High Chula Vista. Set up a long row of tables facing a wall (or even better, along windows) and place seats alongside. Make sure there are ample outlets in the space. At HTH, they did this in a hallway to allow students to congregate and socialize while working.
One layout we love is this media living room at High Tech High Media Arts. This space is set up with comfortable couches and TV monitors, perfect for students to relax and enjoy some digital content. During peak hours, the monitors could also serve as announcement boards and remind students of the daily schedule or upcoming events.
With all the tech gadgets in the classroom, it’s equally important to keep the juice running all day in the devices. Two of our favorite hacks for charging include the drop-down extension cords and charging station, both of which our team uses daily at the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab)! The drop-down extension cord is especially useful for uncluttering a classroom, where a bundle of cords could pose a tripping hazard for students. This handy device opens up valuable floor space, which could make moving furniture around easier too!
Have an abandoned fish tank lying around? Save space and stay organized by keeping all your cords in one location. Re-create the old “pencil sharpener” station, where students spontaneously socialize for a few minutes.
Activate Your Space!
Once you’ve got your space set up, use these two handy tricks to activate your classroom.
One easy way to teach students how to perform certain functions on the computer is by printing out commonly used key commands and post them around the classroom! This signage gives students a quick reminder of shortcuts, helping them save time on projects. The ones shown are of Mac key commands, but you can create your own PC ones too!
As useful as computers are in the classroom, the screens could also be distracting when you’re trying to give direct instruction to the whole class. In these instances, have students lower their computer screens Pac Man-style to a 45-degree angle. Once you’re done talking, students can lift their screens back up to continue working. This hack is fun, calls the class to attention, and gives everyone’s eyes a break from screen time!
These are some simple ways to design a tech-powered classroom! If you give any of these a try in your classroom, we’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’ve adapted it to fit your space.
Try out a hack and share it for a chance to win $200 for your classroom! Enter the #HackYourClassroom competition by October 20. More info and enter here: www.room2learn.org/hack.