"Smart" Classrooms

What is a "Smart Classroom" (1) ? defn: a classroom with only "smart students" . Just kidding.

A smart classroom looks like this. You enter the classroom, it looks like most any classroom, however in the front of the classroom is a screen, so you start to wonder where is the movie projector, and as you cast your eyes around the room you see in the middle of the ceiling a small box with a lens, and voila you have found the projector of the future, or the "eye" of the "smart classroom".

Simply this is how it works. The law professor walks into class, she takes out her laptop which has a communication card that is wireless and it connects up to a little "flying saucer looking pod", or "access point" concealed in the ceiling which in turns communicates wirelessly to the main frame computers in the basement of the college. Your prof.. then fires up her laptop, and the world wide web appears in front of you - and the class begins. "Mr. Jordan (you shrink into your seat as you are called upon) "reviewing the statute on the screen, what one word demonstrates the case of Jones vs. Fletcher we have been discussing this last week" asks the law prof.- yes this is Smart PLUG-&-SHOW Presentation Classroom (2) actually "no plugs" just wireless.

Why does the Smart Classroom educate students more effectively?

As Dr, Daniel Niemeyer, Univ. of Colorado Smart Classroom Educational Consultant (3) sees it, " "faculty want to show information and research data... a rare manuscript or a Van Gogh from the campus slide collection and display it all on a large screen for students viewing. They want to 'take their office into the classroom'" (from "Will the Rise of Smart Classrooms Leave Blackboards in the Dust?" (4)

"Smart Classrooms" work because they are part of an "active classroom" which engages the faculty and student. It really just follows the The Seven Principles of Good Teaching (5), which encourages 1) Student-Faculty Contact 2) Cooperation among students 3) Active learning 4) Gives Prompt feedback 5) Emphasizes time on task (6) (see article by Prof. Jordan "How to keep the student "on task" in the online classroom - Spring 2000 (6) (6) Communicates high expectations 7) Respects Diverse Ways of Learning

At Mission College Paralegal Studies Program, the use of our internet webpage has evolved in the classroom (7) since its meager use of webpages in August of 1997 into a completely integrated page for use of students "on campus", and "online" (8) We have adopted the policy of "public software for public education" (9)  advanced by John Hartzog of the Cal State Northridge Web Project in April of 1998, and utilize three powerful teaching tools in our smart class room. They are threaded discussions (hypernews forums) (10) - quizmaker - testing (11), and irc chat (12)., and as many faculty members who embrace this new technology can attest, there are countless applications and "best practices" (13) which are developed over time through use in the "smart classroom".

Just to focus on one of the teaching tools for a minute, Hypernews fully engages the student (14) because of "interaction" and engagement in the learning process. W. Newbold of Ball State University states in his article "Transactional Writing Instruction on the World Wide Web" (15) " "Evidence from real-time logs shows that learning about composing can and does happen in on-line courses where synchronous conferencing is a central feature. Students can be witnessed checking their understanding of an idea, verifying their grasp of a task, trying out ideas on each other, offering drafts for comment, expressing their re-thinking of those drafts, and so on. "

Hypernews actively involves the paralegal student in "telling, asking, and responding" in a written form. I suspect the reason that the "hypernews" student improves their writing skills is because of the "repetition of telling, asking, and responding in writing", and through their own observation of other paralegal students who are "telling, asking and responding". What, I believe, occurs to the "unseen eye" is knowledge, understanding, and competence accumulates, in small "unobservable increments" through the dialogic process of "telling, asking and responding" when such is required in "written form" from the paralegal student until substantial improvement in writing occurs surprisingly "all of a sudden".

John Orozco, former English Dept. Chair at Mission College, states " our students are bright and intelligent, they just cannot read, because they have not been taught to read." Orozco engages the students in a dialetic writing journal (16) in which the student reads an article, then divides there journal into three parts: A.) Direct quote, B.) The reason the passage is important, C.) The reason your reaction is important. The dialectic process follows thesis, antithesis, synthesis" (a classic philosophy developed by Georg Hegel in his writings - 1812-1817 (17)

One can only conclude that the "genie is out of the bottle", and the educational world will never be the same since the advent of the world wide web, and the "smart classroom."

Prof. Jordan
Glendale, California

(1) http://www.classrooms.com/principles.html
(2) http://www.classrooms.com/cost.html
(3) http://www.classrooms.com/consulting.html
(4) http://www.gateway.com/work/edu/resources/PDF/Rise_of_Smart_Classrooms.pdf
(5) http://www.inform.umd.edu/CTE/large/seven.html
(6) http://www.lamission.org/ontask/
(7) http://lamission.org/demo/
(8) http://yourlawprof.com/
(9) http://www.vcsun.org/~john/freeware.html
(10) http://www.vcsun.org/~john/hypernews2.html
(11) http://www.vcsun.org/~john/quizmakerinstruction.html
(12) http://vcsun.org/~john/ircinstruction.html
(13) http://www.vcsun.org/~djordan/bestpractices.htm
(14) http://lamission.org/hypernews/
(15) http://english.ttu.edu/kairos/4.1/binder.html?features/newbold/bridgenw.html
(16) http://lamission.edu/english/orozco/dialectic_journal.htm
(17) http://www.connect.net/ron/hegel.html