1. The Space
The spaces in a digital classroom can be personalized or anonymous, static or fixed, open or closed, responsive or mute. The main theme is potential, though that potential can be unrealized if there is a lack of alignment between learning objectives and the technology used to achieve them.
2. The Tone
This one’s a little abstract, but the idea is that the tone of a digital classroom is one of its most striking characteristics. From the aesthetic of the assignments to the workflow for teachers to the pace of the assignments to the frustration of buggy software, digital classrooms have a kind of mood and tone that make it striking in contrast to traditional classrooms, where assignments often begin here and end there and all student activites are contained, finite, and often teacher or classroom-centered.
3. The Feedback Loops
In a digital classroom, the feedback loops have the chance to be much faster than a traditional classroom—sometimes instantaneous.
4. The Technology
The fourth element of a digital classroom is the most iconic: the technology. Whether hardware or software, WiFi or LANs, operating systems or social media channels, the technology of a digital classroom is the most visible part for many, and thus can seem the most crucial. This, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth. The most critical part of any learning experience for a child is the child—what they learn, and what they do with what they learn.)
5. The Workflow
In a digital classroom, the workflow shifts from teacher student to the the student —-> everything else —>student ---> everything else.
How it’s different than traditional classrooms: In a traditional classroom, the workflow is fairly predictable: the teacher gives an assignment, the students complete the assignment and return to the work to the teacher. Sometimes, collaboration between students occurs. Teachers may also send the work back to the student with learning feedback, then require the student to resubmit. At best, it’s a lot like hitting a tennis ball back and forth.
But it also can be between a group of 12 students on a daily basis for a week, to a mentor for feedback, back to smaller groups of 3 for more granular feedback, then to the teacher for evaluation, then published to a public audience via a social platform or local/physical venue.
6. The Data
The data in a digital classroom is crucial to providing precise feedback and personalizing learning for students. It can be elegantly visualized and easily shared, though learning models and curriculum must be flexible enough to abort and respond to a constant influx of new data on learning progress.
This may not sound very ‘progressive,’ but in today’s public education environment few things matter more than data. In a more Utopian view, I’d probably call this category/element ‘personalization’ (because that’s what data should be used for) and analyze it through that kind of lens.
7. The Purpose & Audience
In a digital classroom, purpose and audience are the most powerful shifts as experienced by the students. With the limitations of a traditional classroom removed, what the student is create and who they’re able to create it for increases to infinity.
Saving the best for (almost) last, in a digital classroom the purpose of the classroom itself can be different—and this can be as concrete or abstract as you’d like.