A while ago, I read in Virginia Tech news that to facilitate interactive and technology-driven learning, Virginia Tech spends $42 million to have a brand-new building with state-of-the-art classrooms. These classrooms have moveable furnishings, wall-mounted writing spaces, and multiple screens for sharing students’ work. Besides, some classrooms are specifically designed for team-work and active learning. Although I have not been to any of these classrooms, I hope that these facilities can increase students’ interaction and then learn better.
I think students come to class because they want to learn something. Even with this good goal or motivation, it is not hard to find students, who look bored, disengaged, or even fall asleep in classrooms. Traditional classroom setup (with desks in straight rows facing the front of the classroom where the teacher stands or sits) limits interaction between students and teachers and students with each other, which limits students’ relational involvement and connection, leading to students’ disengagement. Studies showed changing desks in different patterns, decorating the classroom, or changing light and temperature of classrooms could significantly improve the learning environment, therefore the student’s engagement. Luckily, these changes have been seen in many classrooms. I have talked to other students and agreed that students now want more interactions in the classroom environment. Students want a stronger relationship with teachers, with peers; want teachers know their background and learning style; and want their teachers to establish an environment to promote interdependent relationship and a culture of learning. With support of technology, connection and communication are getting easier and faster than ever.
Therefore, I have reasons to believe that the classroom environment plays an important role in students’ learning experiences. A classroom with interactive and technology facilities will support students to learn, apply their learning, and turn it into their knowledge. Of course, a modern classroom is not enough; teaching technique, learning activities, and method of assessment to name a few are also needed.