Nov 3, 2010

The User Experience (UX) of the 21st Century Classroom - Adaptive Path

Adaptive Path, a User Experience company,  submitted two concepts to Slate's recent Classroom Redesign challenge.  As part of this project, Slate asked students and teachers to take pictures pictures about their schools.  The pictures were part of the "Through Your Lens" exhibit. The project highlights the fact that many of our schools simply aren't geared for what is required of learning and teaching in the 21st century, as many were built to meet the demands of a society from a long-ago era. 

I think that Adaptive Path's "User Experience of Education" spin might generate some innovative thinking about what we need to do differently in our nation's classrooms, including the process of teaching and learning.   I especially liked Adaptive Path's Touch Screen Desks of the Future. Here is the concept overview, taken from Kim Cullen's Adaptive Path blog post, "The 21st Century Classroom, from a UX Perspective":

"Our futuristic concept focuses on the students’ desks, and emphasizes the importance of being able to quickly reconfigure the classroom for different activities. Each student has his or her own square desk, the entire surface of which is an edge-to-edge touch screen. Each desk connects to the wireless network, allowing the teacher to distribute digital lesson materials from a handheld device.
The desks operate independently to support individual student work, or can be combined in groups of two or four. In a group setting, the combined desks form one large screen to support collaborative work. To support certain activities, the desks can also interact with physical objects when placed and moved around their surface.
The surface of the desk is hinged, so that a student can store his or her personal items inside of it. Additionally, when a desk is opened to a fully vertical position, it functions as a stand-up workspace for delivering presentations. If multiple desks are opened to this position, they form a large contiguous touch screen wall."

In schools, flexibility is key, and I think that Adaptive Path's concept for connected is right on target!  

Here is a challenge for Adaptive Path and other folks involved in UX:   Design a system  to support teachers and learners as education "information architects".  I am sure the cross-pollination between UX, IA, and Ed Tech would be fruitful.

Descriptions of Adaptive Path's submissions to the Slate competition:
Touch Screen Desks of the Future
Concept 2 The Modern Trophy Case
All entries to the 21st Century Classroom challenge
About Adaptive Path

Thanks to Jonathan Brill for the link!

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