Within it, students sit at small square desks, arranged in equidistant rows facing a teacher who has a vast expressive space, denoted by a huge desk and an even bigger, wall-mounted canvas.
Even the ceiling-fitted projector, with cables typically running to the front of the room, hard-wires the teacher’s ownership of the space and its content.
For teacher-centred pedagogies, there is no better design. For some time, a classroom design revolution has been sweeping the nation.
Walls are replaced by glass, student desks make way for larger, write-on tables, teacher whiteboards are removed to make room for scores of small, handheld boards, and teacher desks are disappearing altogether.
The philosophy underpinning these transformations is easy to read: we’re witnessing the democratisation of the classroom in the name of student-centred pedagogies. The aim is to achieve a space that is better suited to students creating and sharing learning, to group work and collaboration, and to decreasing reliance on content delivered by teachers.
So how can AV be harnessed to best facilitate this sort of environment? Clearly, ceiling-fitted projectors pointing to the front of the classroom are not fit for purpose.
Rather, AV needs to allow students to flexibly access projection facilities, so that they can display their learning to groups or even the whole class – even if under teacher supervision. Screens on wheels are proving popular.
Such products can come with or without touchscreen functionality, and typically allow users to project the content of their devices. The way screens are controlled can also vary, from total teacher control to a hybrid of projection rights.
Some of the best wireless projection solutions include Wow Vision or Airtame, but in most cases for a student to project their work they still need explicit, manual teacher permission.
More hard-wired solutions involve running data input and output cables around the classroom and installing several AV and HDMI ports along them.
This allows students to physically connect their device via HDMI to project to a nearby screen, and if there is a central controlling system, to any number of screens. For a cable-free solution, Apple TVs can be installed.
The most economical solutions remove large screens entirely, and instead use software to display the content of one device directly onto other targeted devices.
Nearpod is an option, but more sophisticated control and functionality is offered by the new NetOp products. Schools will choose the solutions that best fit their budgets, spaces and cultures.