Classrooms of the Future
Redesigning our Education
What comes to mind when you think of a classroom? Most of us who have attended school within the last decade or even last several decades can tell you that the basic concept has not changed very much. Sure, classrooms have been souped up with some spiffy new technology, but at its core a classroom is still imagined to be just another nearly identical room in a traditional building where students have to sit in desks all day long. A lot of professional educators are working toward curriculum reforms, but maybe that isn't the entire problem; maybe we need to reevaluate the classroom environment itself and how it can impact student learning.
Mobile Solar Computer Classrooms
Below are some pictures from an article about mobile solar computer classrooms being used in Uganda. The Maendeleo Foundation runs this project which provides computer training to around 100 students a day. Every day, a modified Toyota RAV4 is packed full of solar panels, batteries, Intel PC laptop computers, a foldable tent, folding tables, folding chairs, as well as two computer skills teachers; everything you need for an instant classroom! If more corporations fund projects like this, we can start reaching out to even more people that live in rural areas. In the future, perhaps an entire geography class could be a semester-long road trip with these mobile classrooms so that students can actually see the sites and interact with the cultures they are learning about.
An article at Gizmag talks about how Geotectura and Malka have developed a zeppelin-style flying structure for Delft University's Architecture Faculty. This design is for a dynamic, real-world learning environment with a minimal carbon footprint. And it flies! Perhaps after the expansion of the Mobile Solar Classroom, education turns to these flying classrooms to travel the world. According to the article, these zeppelin-like workspaces would travel between their own on-site campus buildings to other off-site floating buildings at other universities and locations around the world. Upon arriving, this zeppelin could attach "plug and play" style to other campuses and structures around the world. This allows architecture students (and could be expanded to other fields of study) to travel, collaborate, and be inspired.
"Future Proofing Schools" Design Competition
A competition to create new classrooms of the future was hosted by the University of Melbourne, the Melbourne School of Design, and the Australian Institute of Architects. The competition focused on new ideas for relocatable classrooms which have been responses to rapid growth in school population, remote community needs, and/or a quick solution to cope with natural disasters. Below are the first and second place winners.