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Though technology has brought about advancement in every field whether it is medicine, engineering, marketing, space or telecom technology, it is observed that there has been very little change in the basic concept and design of classrooms. By and large, the classrooms of today appear to be quite similar to that of nineties. Studies by eminent educationists indicate that it is the need of hour to bring forward innovative ideas in classroom designing and integrate it with different technological aids to overhaul our static classroom pattern. The future classroom should be designed with the objective of enhanced interaction among teachers and pupils as two way discussion have been found to be far more beneficial over old one way lecturing system. Further, integration of various multimedia aids to classroom gives a new dimension to the entire teaching learning process by making teaching interesting and meaningful. Thereby, contents are delivered to the students in the form of sounds, animations and pictures. It greatly enhances learning as research has revealed that learners can better comprehend the sounds and pictures than words. Additionally, performance of the students can be evaluated on computers and thereby, instant feedback can be utilized to plan future strategies.
*Teaching Associate, Department of Education, Ch. Devi Lal University, Sirsa (Haryana).
** Asstt. Professor, Department of Education, Ch. Devi Lal University, Sirsa (Haryana).
The broad outlook of classrooms of today seems to be quite similar to that early 20th century classrooms. Instead of bringing a change to meet the contemporary needs, many of the pioneer institutes of international repute promote themselves on the basis of their historic and traditional credentials. Classrooms of today still display the centuries old tradition of being teacher focused, solely supporting the process of teaching, and in general overlooking the importance of learning. This one directional flow of information from teachers to students leads to passive learning. In such a highly constrictive classroom set up, there is little choice for the students and hence, it is not conducive for active learning. However with rapid strides in science and technology sector, our system of education is also evolving gradually and becoming more and more globalised. Influence of technology on our younger generations is changing nature of education. Hence to meet the present day needs, the entire education system needs to be revamped. Accordingly, the classrooms of future should be designed by infusing innovative ideas and optimum use of technology while keeping the basic concept of 'effective teaching-learning' in mind.
Technology is providing the much needed impetus for modernizing education systems across the globe. Though infusion of technology in education systems is far rapid in developed world, the need and awareness for technology-enabled education is gradually spreading across the developing nations like India as well. Further, with emergence of several public and private universities in India, education is changing fundamentally from schooling to universities. In the present manuscript, we have studied the need to change the classroom design, amalgamation of technology to the classrooms, its impact on teaching-learning process, obstacles in implementation of these innovative ideas and their effective solutions.
NEED OF RE-DESIGNING THE CLASSROOM
Advent of the new era of technology: The greatest impact on education systems today is that of rapidly growing technology. Technology has become so integral to our lives such that almost every activity involves the use of it in one way or the other. Even the young children are exposed to various technologies at very early stage. By the time, they go to schools; they become well acquainted to various technologies. They consider computers, wireless networks and other technological gadgets essential to life and they expect their teachers use technology. Hence, the teachers need to be tech savvy to meet the expectations of students and the standards of modern education systems.
Changing attitudes: With the changing attitudes towards education systems, students want to be actively involved in discussion and debate. They want to discover knowledge rather than simply be told. Simultaneously they desire to learn by use of a range of multimedia resources. Hence, teachers cannot simply "stand and deliver" the information. This one way lecturing and passive listening needs to be replaced by the classroom designs and strategies which support the active discussion leading to the maximum retention by the students (Mai Neo, 2005).
New methods: Students consider today's teaching and learning methods as predominantly static and one dimensional. They want more diverse styles to create regular interest and channelize their energy to maximize the output. They want interaction, spontaneity, community and mobility. Students today are equipped with laptops and wireless internet connections. They are as comfortable and effective in learning in the canteen or atrium as that of a lecture hall. There has been a shift from educational environments which support the passive acquisition of isolated facts, to environments in which the learner actively explores the world and constructs their own internal models of understanding. Hence, we need to overhaul the classroom patterns and designs to make the teaching learning most effective by inventing new strategies.
Globalisation: With revolution in information and technology, the world has been virtually converted to a small village. With greater communication and mobility comes the choice, and students are becoming more and more selective with respect to the selection of universities/institutes and their careers. Hence, to attract and retain the best students and teachers from home and abroad, the universities and schools need to adopt innovation to stay competitive.
DESIGNING CLASSROOM LAYOUT AND ITS IMPACT
A study conducted by the Ludwig-Maximilian University (LMU) in Munich (Germany) revealed that innovation in design of classrooms significantly enhances the learning. The objective of the project was to improve classroom design in schools, to, support innovative approaches to collaborative learning and to evaluate the effects of different furniture and layouts on learning.
They tested different room layouts, all designed to support group work (fixed, mobile, standing, and sitting).The results were very illuminating. In standing and more mobile positions, both accuracy of thinking and idea innovation were higher than when sitting down, but students felt marginally less comfortable working in a standing positions. Adapting the space layout according to the task significantly improved learning, decision making and teamwork. The success was dependant on clear instructions about how to use the layout and furniture and how to adapt it to the task. People needed time to adapt to the dynamics of a flexible mobile learning environment and feel comfortable. Hence, we need to shift to the classroom designing where the learner actively explores the world and constructs his/her own internal models of understanding.Â
THE CONCEPT OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES
The idea of multi-media concept in education, has gained momentum where the integration of voice, data and video resources creates synergistic effect. The emergence of this new concept is also changing the curriculum in educational institutions across the world. Multimedia is usually a combination of computerized and electronic devices that include a combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video, and interactivity content forms as opposed to conventional media which use traditional forms of printed or hand-produced material.
The concept multimedia is based on the fact that audio and visual presentation of the material leads to improvement in the comprehension and retention. Various audiovisual equipments are emerging as one of the powerful pedagogical innovations in the teaching and learning process (Richard E. Mayer, 1999). Audiovisual aids communicate facts and ideas through the eyes to the mind and emotions. Visual aids include films, slides, videos, overhead projectors, photographs, models and charts. Audio aids communicate ideas through the form of music or tape recordings, television, records, sound films, etc. The modern set of audiovisual equipments synchronizes sound with vision in the most effective manner. They strengthen teacher's verbal presentation while simultaneously helping students grasp the specific ideas. These aids keep the audience engrossed throughout the presentation and help them remember particular information (Ashton & Zalzala, 2004). There are a variety of audiovisual aids giving wide range of options to the user to select the most appropriate one.
Various multimedia aids
LCD Screen: Liquid Crystal Display television (LCD TV) is one of the most effective ways of audiovisual communications in the teaching-learning process, where the television sets use LCD technology to produce images. LCDs are the most widely produced and sold television technology today, pushing all other technologies into niche roles.
Multimedia and 3D Projector: It's a video projector that takes a signal and multiplies an image on a projection screen using a lens. The projectors need bright light to project the image. Projectors are widely used for classroom training with live applications in many schools and educational institutes. It can be connected to an interactive white board, PCs, laptops in an interactive teaching learning process. The 3D projector, one of the most advanced methods has come up with new age technology. For displaying the graphical data, planar two-dimensional media is used, whereas in computer graphics and pictures 3D projector employed. With the pictures available in the presentation, students actually become able to speak and write on a topic, thereby, enhancing their language skills as well (Glenda C. Rakes, 2006).
Interactive Whiteboard: Interactive White Board (IWB) or Electronic White Board is emerging as one of the powerful innovation in the teaching and learning process. It is a type of large interactive display that connects to a computer and projector including web browsers. The projector projects the computer's desktop onto the board's surface. One of the major advantages with regard to IWB is high level of interaction associated with it. Students interact physically with the board, manipulating text and images, thereby, enhancing their learning. IWB enables the students to draw, write or making notes, drag and markup onto the surface controlling the PC. The combination of mouse and keyboard allows the students to control the computer display almost exclusively from the IWB.
Further, IWB can also be integrated in the process of the Learner Response System which enables the teachers analyze the student performance. With these combined facilities, teachers can present a topic and receive feedback from students and subsequently, make their presentations more effective. IWB relieves teachers from their mundane work load as they can carry out formal assessments and tests through it. Additionally, internet conferencing through IWB takes the interaction beyond the boundaries of classroom. Students in India can learn Japanese from a teacher based in Japan using a large HDMI monitor along with a web connection.Â
Apart from this, many Universities/Institutions abroad have started conducting online interviews of aspiring candidates through video conferencing. Hence, technology has not only revolutionized the teaching learning process but also created a slew of opportunities for competent students by providing them online access to various premier institutes of the world. Hence, it has increased the availability of choice across the boundaries and students can exercise their choice and select the institution / programme of their choice according to their potential.
INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY TO THE CLASSROOM
Educationists are long debating on the role of technology in the classroom. Research in the area of educational technologies has been generally focused on the impact technologies can have on children and teachers. Ironically, the impact that children and teachers can have on the development of new technologies has been ignored.Â Both the aspects are critical to understand the overall impact of technology on our learning environments.Â
According to a survey, the most common reason parents cite for buying home computers is their children's education. Even the schools are graded on the basis of ratio of students to the computers.Â This ratio is used to determine the ability of schools to provide "quality" education.Â However, technology is not all about the number of desktops or laptops required in a classroom or how we can train teachers to use them.Â Instead the focus should be on broader aspects viz., proper integration of technology into the curriculum, apt modification / generation of technology to support quality education in the classrooms.Â Appropriate technology should be embedded in a classroom in such a way that it becomes a seamless part of any physical object in schools so that it can favorably change our learning environments.
CREATION OF THE PAPERLESS SOCIETY
With infusion of technology into the all the sectors of society, a paperlessÂ society could soon become a reality. Gradually, student's evaluation using the paper and pen method is being replaced by computer based tests. In distance education programs also, this is widely employed. The teachers no longer have to decipher handwriting and can quickly grade the tests and provide feedback to students. Further, teachers need not make copies of anything, but can push the information to the students' tablets.
THE OBSTACLES AND THE REMEDIES
Availability. A potential barrier for spreading technology across the Indian education system is that in schools, computers are used in computer labs rather than classrooms. It has more to do with the financial resources available to schools and other institutes. Hence, initially the target should be pumping technology into maximum number of schools until gradually computers expand from the labs into classrooms. With growing financial prowess of Indian society and availability of technology at cheaper rates, computers and internet browsers are likely to reach rural hinterlands and then gradually shift from computer labs into individual classrooms.
Training of teachers. Technology alone does not improve students achievements, rather trained teachers and authentic instructions are equal contributory factors (Johnson Dennis & Jennifer Jo, 2005). To adapt to the newer technologies, teachers and school leaders need to participate in extensive professional development programmes to keep themselves up to date. The professional development activities include vendor provided face to face instructions on use of equipments and a part time instructional coach to assist teachers with professional development.
Role of the Government. The experts' opinion is that the Indian Government needs to play a much more active role and take the lead in technology implementation which will require a lot of funding. Though Government realizes that there is an urgent need for quality education in order to match international standards and is committed to allocate the funds, direct emphasis on need of technology is not given. Government must encourage and actively support the infusion of technology in schools as it is the only way to match the international standards in education sector.
The advent of new era of technology has revolutionized all the sectors including education. Extensive studies by various researchers have underlined that we must change the decades old tradition of static one way lecturing pattern in the classrooms and invent innovative classroom designs and strategies. With the integration of various advanced technological aids to classrooms we can give a new dimension to the entire teaching learning process. Various multimedia aids make teaching interesting, exciting and meaningful as instructions are presented to students in the form of sounds, animations and pictures. The most significant thing is that learning can be drastically improved with multimedia explanations than just with words. Multimedia presents various topics to the students in a meaningful and interesting way and the learners simply enjoy learning as these pictures and animations foster deep understanding. It enables the students understand the abstract concepts by seeing the pictures and creating the real models in their minds. Additionally, it relieves the teachers of their additional responsibilities as they would be able to deliver the contents to students just with a click of mouse. They can take the instant feedback from students and then accordingly plan future strategies. Moreover, the multimedia technology can be extremely useful to us to realize our dream of paperless society. However, in developing countries like India where the basic primary education is also a distant dream for a large proportion of population, we need continuous concerted efforts from the Government as well as society in order to achieve the target of quality education integrated with technology for all.