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How Technology Helps Create Flexible Classrooms

Technology is changing education. It’s changing the way teachers teach and it’s providing more options to students. Teachers are able to connect with students in ways that have never been possible. 73% of teachers appreciate the flexibility of technology to cater to diverse learning styles in the classroom. 

 

What is a Flexible Classroom? 

Many districts are adopting flexible learning spaces to bolster student engagement and collaboration, promote social-emotional learning, and enable different instruction delivery methods. The hallmark of a flexible classroom is to create a space that can adapt to any instruction method or style chosen. One obvious characteristic of flexible classrooms is that they break the boundaries of traditional seating arrangements. Instead of uniform rows of desks, teachers can have a variety of seating options like bean bag chairs, sofas, and group tables. 

Flexible classrooms can be organized around activity centers for students to work in smaller groups, so teachers and students can connect on a one-on-one basis while also allowing students to learn in a variety of formats. 

Another trait of flexible classrooms is having a technology stack that is flexible and adaptable to any classroom setup or teaching method. With the right technology stack, classrooms can be used for learning online as well as in-person. Classroom audio and lesson capturing software help teachers teach effectively to students wherever they may be.  

 

Related: Preparing Your School for the New Normal 

 

Impact of Environment on Learning 

Classroom design drives student engagement. Environmental factors like lighting, temperature, and air quality have big impacts on learning. One study found that flexibility of the space alone could boost academic, just as much as air quality, light, or temperature. The good news is that all these items are easy to control, and that is half of the battle. 

Districts can improve learning environment flexibility by using the right technology. Classroom audio systems can amplify teacher communications — making it easier for students to hear instruction and better engage, and to reduce student distraction

 

Who Benefits from Flexible Classrooms 

The reason that we emphasize building flexible classrooms is to promote equity in learning among a diverse population of students. So students themselves are the biggest benefactors of this radical shift. Technology enables learning to occur in a variety of ways, benefiting students with learning disabilities, mainstream students at all levels, and teachers. 

 

Students with Disabilities 

Flexible classrooms help students with learning disabilities by providing specific assistive tools that make learning easier. 

Technology for learning disabilities: 

  • Text-to-speech 

  • Note-taking software that helps students organize information and create outlines 

  • Sip-and-puff systems to enable computer access for mobility challenged students 

  • Audio support for students who have difficulty listening or assistive listening devices 

  • Proofreading software designed for students with dyslexia 

But the benefits of technology in the classroom reach much further than those with learning disabilities. Students at all levels of academic success benefit from enriched learning environments using different technologies. Flexible classrooms, and the technology that supports them, are the key to social-emotional learning. 

 

Related: FrontRow Helps Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) 

 

Students at All Levels of Learning 

As children are given more freedom to interact and work collaboratively, they build essential social skills that will serve them through their adult lives. The traditional classroom environment has always struggled to promote group learning, leaving high-achievers with a disproportionate amount of work. But research supports that embracing social-emotional learning in early education and continuing to develop these skills throughout all grade levels creates job-ready young adults with soft skills that employers need. 

Technology for collaborative learning: 

  • Communication: classroom audio, discussion boards, digital writing tools 

  • Project-based learning: workflow software for group projects, video conferencing 

  • Immersive learning: digital storytelling, GPS scavenger hunts, content creation 

  • Game-based learning: simulators, interactive quizzes, learning game apps 

 

Teachers and Administrative Staff 

Faculty finally have a resource of tools that enable them to reach students as individuals in a classroom setting. They can effortlessly gather and track data on student performance, assign a variety of learning activities that require different degrees of time commitment, and tailor learning to meet individual needs. 

Technology for teachers: 

  • Lesson capturing software for dynamic virtual and hybrid learning formats 

  • Learning management software (LMS) to track assignments and student performance 

  • Blogs and apps for communicating with parents 

 

Parents 

With academic information tracked digitally for both students and teachers, parents now have easy access to monitor their students' performance at any time during the year. Many classrooms have already adopted blogs and emails as digital formats to communicate classroom news with parents. And many more are taking advantage of apps that allow parents to view the information in their LMS. 

 

Related: Social-Emotional Learning: Bridging the Gap with Technology 

 

How Audio Solutions Help Make Classrooms Flexible 

In its simplest form, a classroom audio solution pairs a microphone device for the teacher with strategically placed speakers for the students. Ideally, the system in specifically designed for K-12 to ensure intelligibility of sound as well as amplification and sound distribution. This allows students to easily hear instruction, which leads them to be more engaged in active learning. For teachers, they can prevent vocal strain because they do not need to use their “teacher’s voice.” 

Classroom audio also helps make the space effective with any classroom layout chosen. Students can hear the teacher clearly no matter where or how they are sitting. 

Plus, audio technology makes it easy to capture live lessons so that teachers can provide learning in different formats. For example, if a student is sick and misses an in-person class, he or she can watch the recorded lesson instead of getting left behind. For districts that offer flexibility between remote and in-person learning, these tools are essential to giving both students the same experience. 

This type of universal access to learning materials helps bridge the gap in classroom equity. Students who need more time to review the material will have access to review it. And parents who want to help students can get a firsthand view of the lesson as well.  

 

The Takeaway 

Technology is changing the game for students, educators, and other adults invested in student success. The days of “cookie-cutter” and “one-size-fits-all” approaches are truly no more. They do not produce the best academic outcomes. Districts need to deliver education in multiple ways, while also advancing social-emotional learning, for the best outcomes possible. But first, the classroom space needs to be designed properly for flexibility and with the right technology in mind.   

 

FrontRow provides classroom audio technology that is adaptable to fit any need. Shop our solutions today.