The New Faces of Education - Classroom Changes

by Paula Moran

The other day I came across this video after reading a Linked in post on educational technology.  I highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch it.

We’ve all experienced the rows of desks with a single instructor lecturing from the front.  Traditionally education of the masses had to take place in the face to face classroom because there was no other cost effective mechanism for training.  Now there are.  

These options are changing the roles and interaction between students and teachers.  Consider what you future education will be like.

Types of classrooms:

Traditional (face to face, classroom, in-person)

We’re all familiar with it from our years in k12 classrooms.  This educational setting will persist because there is additional learning that happens with that in person interaction.  Face to Face still dominates as the most popular training method.  It is still preferred by many learners.  Certain topics like applied soft skills training require the immediate response of the face to face interaction.  In-person classrooms are also a practical way to manage our population between the ages of 5-18 years.

Virtual (Synchronous, webinar)

This is a term that is applied to two broad types of interaction: the “webinar” vs. the “virtual classroom.”  Exactly what a webinar versus a virtual classroom is more a sliding scale than a definition.  In general, Webinar is where one lecturer shows slides and talks over them while attendees passively watch from their computers and answer a few poll questions.  While a very effective way to distribute information this should not be mistaken for a replacement to classroom education.  Webinar could be considered the modern replacement for the video based classes.

In a virtual classroom there tends to be fewer attendees and more interaction with the screen; such as polls, type in reponse etc. What happens in a virtual classroom depends on the capabilities of the software program facilitating the virtual space.  Common software include Adobe Connect, Webex or GoToMeeting.  

Opinions on this classroom tend to reflect personal experiences more than best practice potential.  Being a newer classroom style many educators and instructional designers are still learning and exploring the possibilities.  

Online (e-learning)

Online courses tend to have at least two basic elements.
  1. Information to read
  2. Application of that information

There will always be a reading component of an online course.  There may be embedded videos and interactive graphics but you will have to read information off your computer screen.

The application of the information can vary widely.  At the simplest form there are multiple choice questions to answer.  Other types of applications may be discussion boards, assignments to write and upload or interactive media.  As technology improves the possibilities of what an online course can be expand.  Expect greater interactivity in the near future.

Social learning (networking)

You learn by talking with coworkers or fellow students at a seminar.  As some learning moves away from face to face the technology to facilitate peer to peer learning rises.  Discussion boards in online classes have been around for a while.  Companies are now realizing the benefit of launching social media platforms to facilitate social learning while capturing the content created into a searchable database.  Exactly what the social learning will look like depends on the situation.  Programs that mimic popular sites like linkedin, twitter or facebook will begin to appear in workplaces and attached to courses.

Mobile learning (mlearning)

Like social learning what mobile learning is depends on the situation.  The defining factor for mobile learning is that it takes place on the job away from a laptop or desktop computer.  Mobile is best suited for just in time, contextually aware learning.  Explaining all the possibilities is another article.

What mobile learning is NOT is taking an online course through your phone or tablet.  

Hybrid (blended)

Generally this is the most effective classroom structure.  It is a combination of classroom styles rolled into one course.  For example you may go through a short online course then meet virtually a few times followed by an in person seminar.  What is components are chosen to compose a hybrid classroom will vary greatly depending on the learning experience.  This “classroom” style has the potential to bring together the best of all educational methods.  It also tends to spread out the learning increasing retention rates.

As social and mobile learning grows expect it to be integrated more into courses.  For example, during a leadership course now or in the future you may be expected to contribute or pose questions to an online forum with your cohort peers.


Many people will proselytize that one type of classroom will die off or take over the educational landscape.  That will never happen.  Different content is best delivered in different methods.  People have personal preferences on how they learn.  Organizations have budgets for what they can afford.  With expanding technical tools there has never been a time since apprenticeship that the classroom can be so tailored to the learners needs in a cost effective manner.
Also a thanks to for posting the video in the article “3 key points on the Future of Education technology.”

Coming soon … how the changing classroom affects the job of the educator.