Classrooms Going Beyond the Walls
The acceleration of development in technology in the mid-seventies of the last century led to a boom in all educational levels and the start of a real revolution in the world of communication. The Internet spread throughout the world which linked and bringing it all together like a small village. It became a collection of open societies which lead to exchange of views, ideas and experiences. The Internet now is the best means of communication between individuals and groups through websites, blogs, and personal networks.
Social networking sites are electronic social Websites which allow users to create electronic profiles, send messages to each other, and allow sharing of media. It facilitates users to post files and write on specific topics that could be viewed and commented on by other participants. For example, twitter and blogs are powerful social networks that enable users to post their thoughts. In education, they are very good tool to use to incorporate a large number of students in a class discussion that would be very hard to reach in traditional classroom. Twitter is limited to 140 characters that help students focus on main idea. On the other hand blogging can give the student the space he might needs to prove his idea. Even with these recognized advantages social networking has still not been incorporated in the classroom.
Using twitter and blogs in education has opened the door to Open Classroom Environment where students are able to remain in their comfort zone; students do not worry about speaking in front of large number of people. Also, students can tweet or blog using a laptop, a tablet or even a smartphone. There would be no communication barriers as long as internet is connected.
Open classroom environment introduces new forms of student-class interaction that has many benefits to the student, such as:
- prepares students for the future
- supports team working concept
- promotes knowledge sharing
- increases student engagement
- motivates participation
- facilities discussion and feedback
- opportunities to present students work to an external audience
- enables student to take ownership of their writing, learn from others’ writing
- increases students self-confidence and self-esteem
- involve students that usually have access limitations – either physical or geographical – to traditional classroom
Despite all of the benefits, there are a number of drawbacks to the open classroom environment such as:
Too many responses to track.
- It depends on students motivation and initiative
- Lack of face to face dialogue benefits
- Internet access limited.
Based on the above, I am personally pro the idea of promoting an open classroom over traditional – four walls – classroom which I have never experienced before in my academic as well as professional life. Also as an international student, I found using twitter and blogs are a very interesting and enriching experience that I would use as often as possible, when I go back home, with my students. It helps me to communicate my thoughts in a way I am not able to do in the traditional class not only with the student available in the classroom but also people with diversifying professional background around the world. Finally, it may give me the opportunity to keep in touch and overlook the progress in this area of education from across the world.