Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Reflection on Dean Shareski's Presentation: Design Matters

As I watched Dean Shareski's presentation I found myself thinking about the past 6 years of working in one to one computing environments and how the addition of one to one has changed the design of classrooms. I'm often asked what I see as the biggest change that one to one computing has brought to teaching and learning. My first response is always "collaboration". When I walk into a classroom it is a different experience than it was 5-6 years ago. First of all, it can be very difficult to locate the teacher. They are not typically in the front of the classroom. They are much more commonly found sitting with students or on one knee beside a student guiding the learning that is taking place in their classroom.

The majority of classrooms in my building have changed from the Industrial Age model of desks in neat rows and columns to groups of desks (or tables) to more of a Information Age design with desks (or tables) in grouped patterns. Many of these classrooms change their design from day to day based on the task being completed. Despite the desks not being bolted to the floor, it amazes me how many classrooms never change their set up of desks and chairs.

Clarence Fisher's analogy of "classrooms as studios" really hit me as I think about the ramifications of a studio workspace versus a traditional classroom. His point of students all painting the same line in the same way sounds ridiculous in a studio environment. Why isn't it just a ridiculous in a typical classroom environment? It makes me think of how David Warlick often describes the work he did in his Industrial Arts classroom as a student. The projects he completed in this class had him use tools to create - not learn the about the tools. If we want our students to use the tools we need to have them create with them - not merely learn about them. If they create using the pointers by Dean Shareski they will produce compelling projects with true "visual literacy".

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Image: 'Chairs'

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