Faculty Senate President's Column - November 2011
The first snow of the season has blanketed Hays, which is
normally reserved for finals week. If you see panicked faculty anywhere, they
are probably confused and think grades are due in a few days. The confusion
will pass quickly.
Over the last year I’ve been fortunate to be part of an FHSU
task force charged with the design of a new type of classroom. Technology and
student need are changing the way we teach, but the classrooms we work in are
stuck in a 20th Century “stand and deliver” environment with fixed
chairs in column-row organization and a podium in front made for lecture and
not much else.
But today’s instructor and student want to be in a more
flexible, cooperative environment. Empowering students to work collaboratively
with the instructor and other students in groups, giving multiple multimedia
sources to show a variety of viewpoints and instructional aides to students,
allowing students to share work across groups, and provide a variety of seating
options so students can feel like they’re learning in a comfortable environment
should all be part of the 21st Century classroom.
Fortunately, we have that very classroom right down the hall
from my office. The Mediated Classroom Redesign pilot is underway, and we have
created a learning space that is inviting, group-based, and very forward
thinking. We use technology to reach our students where they live, but we can
take that same approach to learning and redesign our learning spaces to teach
students in a way that opens them up rather than forces them into a strict
format that does not conform to their learning styles. I hope we will see a
shift toward these agile, student-focused environments in more classrooms as
time goes on. I invite anyone who is interested to ask more about what I think
will be the model for classroom redesigns over the coming decade. It’s the
kind of environment our students deserve.