Reimagining the modern classroom
Tampere University of Applied Sciences is now developing a new classroom that is ideal for creating virtual and hybrid teaching environments.
The goal is to give teaching staff access to various technologies that can unlock new ways of teaching. It is a space for teaching staff to test technologies and develop new teaching practices. Simultaneously, gadgets are being tried and tested before investing on big orders to accommodate the whole TAMK community.
Although the desire for such a classroom existed, the need was urgently created in recent years. The pandemic created this radical change to fully remote and hybrid teaching. Educators quickly realised that many of these changes could be permanent.
“We sought to create an appealing place for any teacher to test and try new technologies. We wanted a space that both looks cosy and offers good acoustics, because excellent sound and image are crucial for a digital classroom,” emphasizes Mikko Turunen, Senior Lecturer in TAMK Pedagogic Innovations and Culture.
In the classroom there are two different settings. Firstly, there are big installations that cannot be removed from the room. The lights, room camera and large devices like the digital whiteboard are all connected to the media dashboard. Secondly, the smaller devices such as augmented reality (AR) headsets and other wireless teaching tools, can also be borrowed and used in other classrooms.
Usability and support
Even though the classroom is not finished yet, the TAMK community has already access to it. The initial feedback of the teaching staff brought forward a usability issue. Since then, there have been several short tutorial sessions with different teacher groups that brought positive feedback.
Technology has value only if it is used. So, the teaching staff should receive support with usability training. As a result, the next stage of the project is to provide usability training for the whole TAMK community with the aim to help teaching staff to use.
”One doesn’t have to understand and master everything about it. Small first steps can already drastically change the teaching experience. For example the wireless presenter gadget allows the teacher to move away from the desk and still be able to present and point on the screen,” comments Mikko Turunen.
International visitors from partner organisations around the world have also had the chance to visit the classroom and share their thoughts.
Looking into the future
With the rapid advancements in technology, there is a clear swift in education. Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic urged a rapid change in teaching on all levels of education.
Nowadays, it has been observed that students prefer not to attend standard lecture format if it is recorded. It is necessary for higher educational institutions to follow the inevitable changes in both technological advancements and needs of the student body.
“I believe we are going towards virtual and different mixed realities, as the next user interface is vision,” Mikko Turunen predicts.
Anticipating and adapting to changes in the needs and preferences of students is important for the performance of higher educational institutions. Following trends can be frustrating and expensive. Instead, continuous observation, research into megatrends and meta-skills are crucial in order to stay ahead and not just catching up with changes.
Text: Dimitra Panopoulou-Huovila
Photograph : Konsta Leppänen