When I came to GHS in 1999, I taught from two classrooms. The first was in the main building, which is currently the County Administration building. You can see me in a photo taken by students with a digital camera owned by the school at the time, an Apple “QuickTake” camera. For some reason, you could only maybe get 15 pictures with the thing before you would have to replace the batteries.
There’s a couple of things interesting to me in the photo, and by extension, my thinking about teaching with technology.
In 1999, I used a whiteboard. The space also would be used (with a screen) to project onto the wall (the lights would have to go down, as the brightness was only 600 lumens).
In the back, right, was my classroom server running Macintosh Manager. Above that, on the wall, was a web URL beginning with http://, that pointed to an internal IP address for my intranet. It’s where I placed a lot of materials, especially for my advanced classes. It was my own website that was updated daily with the day’s agenda, tutorials, and even videos.
I take no ownership of the overhead projector, save to note that the classroom was also used by other teachers.
Sometimes we really liked using the tables in the room and as alternative to the computers, which were arranged along the perimeter of the room.
- We still today need easy, effortless ways to shift our work between one machine and the other, or at least to present it easily to be seen my multiple people,
- Fixed designs, especially with relation to tools, often are compromises. The best spaces are flexible ones.
- Facing kids against a wall was never great for trying to have conversations with students or to discuss their work that lived virtually.
That’s one reason I like iPads in our classrooms supporting 1:1 – they provide for more flexible modalities, they allow some sharing with large groups using AirPlay, and because of their size, they tend not to get in the way of seeing/communicating with others face to face.
I was inspired by the designs for learning outlined in this brochure from Steelcase. When you see the flexibility available, you kind of realize “there doesn’t have to be just one way to orient your room.” By extension, not just one way to teach.
When the New Goochland High School opened in 2001, I taught a single class in room C143. That afforded great space, and larger, more capable computers, but the flexibility factor was still negatively impacted. I am not sure I could have foreseen the current state of learning and what some teachers have come up with.
Kudos to teachers who are open-minded enough, and flexible enough as we use mobile technology, to re-think, and re-orient their instructional spaces. Now, if I could only get used to sitting on the Pilates balls.