Technology advancement and application is an inevitable element that has found application in almost all fields of the economy. Technology is associated with both positive and negative effects according to a specific situation and what it is able to achieve. Smart classroom is an advent of technology utilized in learning institutions. It entails the use of an instructor station that is composed of a computer and some audiovisual facility that allows the instructor/ teacher to make learning easier through the utilization of a variety of media. Smart classrooms technology promotes teaching and learning. Enhanced learning is made possible by the media especially the visual effects that help the students to get a clear picture of what is being taught. It may include use of PowerPoint presentations, DVDs as well as VHS playback in an effort to make learning an enjoyable and easy process. It integrates aspects like audience response technology, effective learning software and networking (Anonymous par 3).
This paper investigates on the aspect of smart classrooms and the effect they have on the process of student learning.
Background information of Smart classroom
Smart classrooms have been a product of development and adoption of technology in the education sector. Traditionally, learning practically occurred in physical classrooms where teachers and students came together to allow the learning process to take place. In the event of a need for some practical experience, there was some assembly of some equipment in a separate room such as a laboratory and the teachers together with the students engaged in the practical experiments to supplement the skills and knowledge acquired in the classroom. Learning was only possible through physical contact of the students and the teachers. With advancement of technology such as streaming of video on the web, the need to have a classroom as a meeting point is no more.
This is because smart classroom technologies have enabled listening of lectures from any place. Recording of what transpires in a lecture room has also avoided the problem of having to obtain the information together with the rest of the students as one can always listen at a convenient time and as many times as possible. Smart classrooms have been successful due to the availability of aspects of interactive communication and collaboration instruments such as chat rooms, electronic forums like teleconferencing, and e-mail applications among others. Interaction in live and online classroom setting differ, with some situations being better handled electronically and others physically/live.
For this reason, it has not been possible to eliminate all aspects of traditional classroom setting for instance laboratories. Smart classrooms have changed people’s perception about learning with most of them appreciating the fact that effective learning does not have to occur in a physical classroom as long as the objectives of learning are achieved (Marzano and Paynter 112).
Description of the method of research used
There are various methods of research that are utilized to gather information on a particular issue for instance quantitative, qualitative and participatory research methods. The methods could be used individually or could be combined where possible depending on the decision of a researcher. Each method is linked with some benefits and limitations in regard to attainment of the required information. For the purpose of this research paper, I will incorporate a variety of research methods in an effort to gather sufficient and accurate information in regard to this topic to enable a comprehensive analysis that will bring forth effective research findings. The research will be descriptive as well as qualitative where the respondents will be able to give their views and opinions as well as experiences in regard to the effect of smart classrooms on student learning. Participative observation will also be incorporated especially during the interviews so as to get some information that would otherwise not be attained through other methods of collecting data.
Research instruments such as interview schedules and questionnaires (open and close ended) were utilized where by some clearly stipulated questions were presented to a number of respondents. The sample was composed of 200 students and 100 instructors selected randomly from various institutions of learning to form a representative sample. The responses were then analyzed qualitatively to come up with an informative conclusion regarding the effects the smart classroom technology has had on the learning process of students in terms of whether it has improved their performance or not. This has formed part of the primary source of information which is first hand and reliable data. Other resourceful sources (secondary sources) that were consulted for the purpose of coming up with this paper include documented materials in the form of textbooks, magazine and journal articles as well as the internet (institutions’ websites).
This has allowed the researcher to have a wide view of the topic and all the concepts that surround it and hence come up with an informed conclusion as well as some recommendations that could be adhered to, to ensure that the aspect of smart classrooms become more and more effective in future. In a nutshell, the research findings from the respondents show that smart classrooms have got both positive and negative effects towards the learning process but the positive impacts tend to surpass the negative ones and thus most of the respondents appreciated and valued it much.
Discussion; An analysis or evaluation of research findings
From the research, a wide pool of information was gathered as described below and it can help us have a deeper understanding of the concept of smart classrooms in general and the effects it have on the learning process in particular. Smart classroom is a broad concept that that entails the utilization of various equipment and provision of a variety of services all aimed at enhancing the processes of learning and teaching. Among the equipment that could be found in a smart classroom include personal computers or laptops, VCR, DVD players, sound system and a data projector which is used to display the outputs on the wall or big board or a projection screen.
Internet connection is also a requirement. There are various services that are generally offered in smart classrooms. They include; training and orientation aimed at making the process easy through equipping individuals with relevant skills and knowledge, user assistance and programs on controlling computers and the general classroom system and maintenance among others (Anonymous par 6). According to a study carried out by Nakashima, Aghajan and Augusto (22), the application of smart classrooms has brought a lot of positive changes in the education system most notably the possibility of effective distance education programs which entail learning from a remote place without necessarily having to be involved physically in a classroom but rather to obtain significant information on various subjects, doing the required assignments and examinations and submitting them online. It has been made possible through the utilization of various technological aspects like networking and online applications like chat rooms, emails as well as different social networking applications that have enabled effective sharing and dissemination of information. Smart classroom technology also enables instructors to simultaneously handle the remote and the local students effectively and allow them to have control of the presentations in terms of what should be provided and what should be left out. This has been an effective learning method that saves on resources like time.
There is however some challenges that are associated with smart classrooms. They include expenses incurred in the purchase and maintenance of the various equipment as well as training aimed at equipping the people involved with the required skills and knowledge to make the overall process a success. Another challenge is that most learning institutions prefer to buy some equipment that are relatively cheap and they tend to become obsolete easily with the advancement of technology making them to have to purchase new ones every now and then a procedure that is dire expensive and inconveniencing. Lack of the required skills is also an issue of concern as it hinders effective learning. Some instructors do not also have an understanding of the purpose of smart classrooms and their responsibilities and they see it as a form of relieving them the agony of teaching which should not be the case. The concept of smart classrooms have been treated differently by different individuals and groups with some taking it as a pure advantage in the education sector while others take it as a scapegoat used as a result of failed education systems that result to poor performance by the students. It is considered as a waste of resources and complication of the learning process rather than a way of solving problems faced in learning institutions.
Those against the concept of smart classroom state that smart learners and instructors are needed as opposed to smart classrooms and that availability of smart classrooms without effective instructors and students could not make any difference. There is a tendency of responsible individuals in learning institutions to dwell too much on establishing effective smart classrooms at the expense of forgetting to dwell on other relevant education related issues for instance training of teachers to be able to teach well, students to learn efficiently, and establishment of tools and infrastructures necessary for effective learning and excellent performance of both the instructors and the students.
It is evident that the aspect of smart classrooms is a positive move in the education system. It has in a great way facilitated the learning process through the utilization of the various media that allow better understanding since some aspects could be better understood using a certain media as opposed to the other. Through the application of smart classrooms in the education sector, learning has been enhanced through creation of a superior, innovative environment that facilitate aspects of learning such as distance learning that were not possible prior to the introduction of smart classrooms. The remaining part is the improvement of effectiveness of smart classrooms to cater for emerging learning needs and the changing rate of technology.
Anonymous, “Smart Classroom”.
NUIT, Northwestern University. 2011. May, 17, 2011. html> Marzano Norford and Paynter Pickering Gaddy. A Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001. Nakashima Hideyuki, Aghajan Hamid and Augusto Carlos Juan. Handbook of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments. New York: Springer
html> Marzano Norford and Paynter Pickering Gaddy. A Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001. Nakashima Hideyuki, Aghajan Hamid and Augusto Carlos Juan.
Handbook of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments. New York: Springer