Do you equate innovative technology with cities? Do you link computers with all things sophisticated, sleek and clean?
Perhaps you shouldn’t. Certainly Roseland community college has little time for such tired thinking. Located on a Cornish headland associated with farming, gig races and agricultural fairs, its year 7 students have just won first prize in the Guardian/Intel SmartClass2025 competition to design the classroom of the future. And they’ve done it with a scheme that embraces compost heaps as well as computers.
Not that their classroom of the future looks homespun. With its circle of suspended screens, smart black chairs and touchpad desks, the space is clearly futuristic. But not all its innovations are technological.
Roseland’s classroom is eco-friendly – hence the compost heap in the garden. The energy is supplied by wind turbines and solar panels, plus they’ve installed special glass to help keep it cool in summer and warm in winter.
All the equipment has been chosen with sustainability in mind, says Finn Keogh. One of the winning team of seven students, Finn was inspired by pens made from recycled vending cups.
The classroom is people- as well as eco-friendly. Some walls are painted purple as it’s a calming colour, says Ellie Crompton-Brown, while blue has been used to aid creativity and clarity.
Roseland’s winning entry for Smart Class 2025 was born out of an extended learning project for year 7, says ICT teacher Lee Springett. “We wanted to develop their independent learning skills and their imagination and creativity. But we also emphasised the need for realism, for them to support their ideas with research.”
So when pupils talked vaguely about “computerised teachers”, Lee asked them to think about how they might work. As a result, the classroom’s holographic teaching devices are not young flights of fancy; they’re based on 3D video-conferencing technology.
Roseland’s entry is futuristic in conception – and in production. “We wanted more creativity and collaborative learning. We wanted pupils to work together online, sharing ideas, data and information,” says Lee.
So, for example, the team compiled questionnaires, getting feedback on their ideas via Google Docs. Finn’s mind-map of sustainable resources was the result an online collaboration. And everyone was encouraged to experiment with useful apps.
“I was really impressed by the pupils who learned how to use modelling software to create the 3D image of their classroom,” says Lee. “But then I was amazed by so much of what they did.”
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