The corporate classroom is slowly transitioning from a stale, windowless room lined with tables to a multimedia experience that can take place in person or virtually. Many have labeled this shift in the education experience as Classroom 2.0.
There are two main reasons companies are encouraging this transition:
- As project teams, departments, companies, and classrooms find themselves working remotely and geographically dispersed, trainers need to develop strategies to keep distance learners engaged in the class.
- Another reason companies are integrating technology into corporate education is to better engage the Millennials, also known as Generation Y, within their company. These are people born between 1980 and 2000 that grew up with technology as an integrated part of their everyday life. They prefer working in teams, providing feedback that will influence training direction and content, and using technology.
So what does this new classroom look like? Often it offers a flexible, cafeteria style method for students to complete the class. There are different paths students can take to succeed; people can choose the activities that best fit their interests and schedule. These activities are generally not classroom-based. Corporate educators are leveraging technologies that aren't necessarily education related and re-purposing them for learning opportunities.
Let's take a look at a few of the technologies being repurposed for the corporate classroom.
This tool allows you to pull content from social media sites and other online news outlets and curate it into a cohesive story. Users build their own custom news article out of these components. Others are then able to comment on the page and discuss its content.
Educators are using this tool as a means of doing case studies and topical research. The comment features engage Millennials and students regardless of geographic location to turn this from a topical presentation to an interactive discussion.
Long used for personal use, Facebook is being used by educators as a classroom bulletin board and class forum. Not only can an instructor use it to post classroom assignments and share articles related to the class, it can be leveraged to foster learner-learner interaction. Learner-learner interaction is part of Michael G. Moore's categorization of relational interactions in education; learner-learner interaction is critical for successful distance education. Students have learner-content interaction as they read the course materials and gain knowledge. Learner-instructor interaction is achieved during class and helps motivate and guide learners through the material. Finally, there is learner-learner interaction which aids in applying the knowledge. Someone would post a question or comment online and students would begin posting comments, evaluating the idea, and giving each other feedback. This step is critical to help learners process the knowledge and begin applying it. It also gives Millennials a sense of ownership around their learning experience and keeps them engaged through a preferred technology medium.
Another technology that can be used to encourage learner-learner interaction and post-class discussion is Twitter. Educators can create a hash tag for their class (e.g. #CapTechBlogs) and follow as students tweet comments about the class and begin engaging one another in the course content. It also allows instructors to track what content is resonating with students and tailor the content to the students' interests.
For distance learning, Ustream is a free tool that enables educators to broadcast their class online. This tool offers chat capabilities which allows the remote learners to be engaged in the course. Courses can be archived and replayed.
One thing to keep in mind when streaming a class is the importance of having a classroom facilitator dedicated to monitoring the online stream to resolve technical issues and monitoring the chat to answer any questions or comments from remote learners.
In class polling creates a way to quickly assess learner knowledge and create an interactive component to classroom training. Instructors can use polling to do anonymous knowledge checks and give them a feel for whether learners grasp the content. It can also be used to poll the classroom and quickly gather opinions on a topic. Polleverywhere.com lets students vote by sending a text message on their cell phone, respond online or even through twitter. Results are then broadcast real time.
The last idea is using online chat room applications to allow remote users to participate in group activities and do teamwork. There are numerous online chat options available. Google Hangout supports groups of up to 10 people and has additional features like screen sharing in addition to webcam and audio interaction.
Classroom 2.0 not only provides solutions to delivering training to geographically dispersed students, it also gives Millennials a sense of ownership of the course. It allows them to connect to the training through some of their preferred mediums of social networks and the internet. It also provides additional ways to provide learner-learner interaction and help students move from just knowing the material to fully digesting it and being able to apply it to real world situations.