Groupthink for Good

from Tech&Learning

The future classroom as seen at Techforum

To be honest, the initial reaction I had to the crowd assembled at Tech&Learning's Techforum keynote event last month in Palisades, NY, was annoyance. How rude was it for so many to be typing on laptops or glancing at handhelds while edtech guru David Warlick was on stage speaking?

But in fact, Warlick encouraged it. He directed people to his own and other Web sites as the lecture was also broadcast over the Web. At the same time, audience members "back channeled"— that is, chatted online about the action in the room via Twitter and instant messaging. How meta! At times, even Warlick was hunched over his own laptop, opening a new application or checking his buddy list.

It was a eureka moment of sorts for me—so this is what the classroom of the future will look like. Not one lecturer spouting by rote to mute recipients, but true interactive learning—groupthink in a positive sense—with the presenter, or, teacher, acting as the maestro; teachers and students alike swimming in a mixed media sea of information, pulling out relevant bits, debating over the merits, and assessing their progress as they go. Some more beauty with this process: the amassed results of the event are stored for your review and critique. Go to our Techforum page and join in. Watch the archived Webstream, read through the assorted discussion, and access the other resources yourself. Then add your own thought by emailing me or post your thoughts to our Forums page.

Now think to yourself: wouldn't it be nice to run a classroom this way?

Kevin Hogan
Editorial Director