The Role Of Spaces In A Digital Classroom [ELDC-1]

Summary: The spaces in a digital classroom can be personalized or anonymous, static or fixed, open or closed, responsive or mute. The main theme is potential, though that potential can be unrealized if there is a lack of alignment between learning objectives and the technology used to achieve them.

Examples: An online course with a group for reflective discussion, a reddit or Quora forum to ask questions and solicit new perspective on a problem-based learning lesson, a 1:1 classroom where students move back and forth between ‘digital’ and physical workspaces.

How it’s different than traditional classrooms: In a digital classroom, the spaces are both physical and digital if for no other reason than no matter how ‘digital’ the tools, students are always ‘physical,’ usually coming from a physical home to sit in a physical space with other physical students in a physical school.

Strengths: As described above, a digital classroom has the potential to be entirely personalized for each student to connect with the right content, peer, or audience at the right time—and ‘scale’ insofar as that potential can be replicated for every student every day without the direct and persistent ‘programming’ of a teacher.

Weaknesses: Spaces in a digital classroom can be difficult to align with specific learning standards. They also can be full of distractions, notifications, temptations to ‘play’ (and not the ‘good’ kind of learning through play).

Also, though digital work can be social and open and collaborative, in many ways it can be even more de-personal and isolated than a student completing a worksheet sitting alone at a desk. In the former, the student may be the only person that ever sees any of the work or progress, while the worksheet example would at worst see the student turn in the worksheet to a teacher who would provide feedback and often a grade, which would then be communicated to parent/guardians/family, etc.