Refreshing the Classroom

Classroom of the Future & Classroom of 2011 Survey

Conducted by The MASIE Center  – Led by Elliott Masie & Joyce Chan
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With all this talk about e-Learning, webinars and virtual sessions, what's happened to the corporate classroom? The MASIE Center wanted to explore this question by reaching out to learning professionals around the world, surveying the current state of the classroom and building a technology wish list for the "classroom of the future."

In March 2011, we received responses from 654 large organizations, detailing current and future uses of classrooms. These organizations included corporate entities (57%), educational institutions (21%), governmental agencies (15%) and non-profit groups (7%) in 46 countries, with the majority of respondents from North America. 
Executive Summary:

  • Classrooms are not going away, but they are evolving in use, technology and capabilities. Approximately 80% of organizations reported that their classrooms are currently used almost daily or weekly. Despite predictions about the demise of the classroom, respondents expect that, in the future, their facilities will be utilized the same amount or even more than they are being used now.
  • The maximum capacity of an average classroom only allows for 11 to 30 learners.  Many organizations reported that this capacity is not large enough and that there are often instances where learners are cramped in a room, usually with furniture that cannot be moved. Flexible furniture and dividable spaces should be considered for future classrooms to easily move from a lecture format to one more suited to discussion or group work. Blended learning may be the source of some pressure for more classroom flexibility since classroom sections are being offered less frequently to larger groups.
  • Top technologies/capabilities desired for newer classrooms mainly include increasingly interactive options for learners and teachers. The list includes: interactive whiteboards, wireless access for learners, camera/microphone to record class, movable furniture, multiple displays, tablets for every learner, video conferencing via webinar and desktop, and audience response systems. 


Current Classroom Utilization

Current Capabilities and Technologies in Organizational Classrooms:

Technologies Currently Available

Projector/Display 85%
Blackboard/Whiteboard 80%
Flipchart 78%
Movable Furniture 68%
Speakerphone 59%
Microphone/Speakers 52%
Wireless 49%
Video Conferencing via Webinar 47%
Flat Screen 28%
High Def Projector 28%
Video Conferencing via IP/ISDN> 25%
Fixed Furniture 25%
Camera/Microphone to Record Class 23%
Dividable Spaces 22%
Interactive Whiteboard 22%
Video Conferencing via Desktop 20%
Document Camera 19%
Multiple Displays 19%
Audience Response Systems 13%
Tablet Control for Instructor 11%
Slide Projector 10%
Tablet for Every Learner 6%
Gaming Technology 4%


Capacity and Frequency of Use:
On average, the maximum capacity for a typical classroom is 11 to 30 learners. The majority of survey respondents reported that their classrooms are currently used continuously (almost daily) and regularly (weekly), with a small percentage indicating infrequent use.



Additional Uses for Classrooms:

Additional Uses for Classrooms

Meetings 86%
Video Conferencing (Non-teaching) 33%
Self-utilization 30%
Lunch or Break Room 10%
None 2%

As we move from the most common technology (projection of computer screens) to the least common (gaming technology), we see a picture of evolving functionality in organizational classrooms. Most of the top ten technologies reflect a "Teacher in the Front of the Room" model as a primary utilization pattern. Content capture and access to remote expertise, teachers, or students are not currently major functionalities. And, the friendly flipchart is still alive and well in 78% of the classrooms. ☺

Classrooms of the Future

Capacity and Frequency of Use:

Rather than predicting the demise of the face-to-face classroom, responding organizations actually expect to see stable or even increased usage: 41% expect usage "to stay the same", with 28% predicting increased usage and 23% predicting decreased usage.

Still, the classroom of the future is likely to be equipped differently as changes in both technology and learning methodology are implemented.



Technology Imagined in the Classroom of the Future:

Technologies in Future Classrooms
Interactive Whiteboard 64%
Wireless Access for Learners 63%
Camera/Microphone to Record Class 60%
Movable Furniture 59%
Multiple Displays 57%
Tablet for Every Learner 57%
Video Conferencing via Webinar 56%
Video Conferencing via Desktop 54%
Audience Response Systems 53%
Flat Screen 52%
Tablet Control for Instructor 52%
Dividable Spaces for Small Groups 50%
High Definition Projector 48%
Microphone/Speakers 47%
Projector (Computer) 46%
Speakerphone for Room 46%
Multi-Touch Display (like CNN Magic Wall) 45%
Video Conferencing via IP/ISDN 43%>
Blackboard or Whiteboard <43%
Flipchart 40%
Gaming Technology 38%
Document Camera (Projection) 32%
Scrolling Displays (e.g. For Stock Ticker or News) 13%
Overhead Project (Transparencies) 9%
Slide Projector 7%
Fixed Placement Furniture 4%

Respondents indicated a preference for more interactive whiteboards, cameras and microphones to record classes, tablets for everyone, multiple displays and movable furniture. In other words, the "sage on the stage" teaching model is being expanded to include virtual expertise, increased learner interaction and alternative modes of presenting and working with new content.

Organizations want the ability to easily record classes for future use and dissemination.  More than 50% of learners suggested they would like video conferencing capabilities along with multiple displays to connect instantly with experts and groups from other locations.  

Recurring themes in both data responses and expanded comments were:

  1. More learner engagement and collaboration
  2. Turning the classroom into a "studio" for content capture and broadcast
  3. Learner as "designer" with increased learner choice and the evolution of a trainer into more of a facilitator
  4. Classrooms formatted to enable project-based learning
  5. Increased capacity for high energy and fun learning activities

Raves and Reflections

In addition to surveying on functional characteristics of today's and tomorrow's classrooms, we requested "Rants and Hopes" for classroom learning. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Budget Frustrations: Organizations wishing to update their highly utilized classrooms are often facing a lack of funds or willingness to invest in classroom technology.
  • Agility & Flexibility: Organizations are evolving the size, formats and layouts of their classroom activities, but often have to deliver these in fixed furniture rooms, which detract from design agility.
  • Size Matters: A large number of respondents want larger classrooms to accommodate increased gatherings, often as part of shorter and blended learning experiences.
  • Borrowed Spaces: In several organizations, learning departments are competing for the use of shared spaces, restricting their ability to schedule robust learning options.
  • Disappearing Classroom?: A small number of learning colleagues reported, predicted or hoped for the disappearance of the classroom, to be substituted by webinars and virtual events. This is not trending dramatically upward.
  • To Go Online or Not?: There was some divergence about the positive and negative aspects of giving all students in a classroom online access. 
    • Positive: real-time context, back-channel of collaboration, etc.  
    • Negative: distraction, in-group/out-group, reduced teacher control. 
    • Access will be clearly available; turning it on/off will be a design decision.
  • Small Group Spaces & Kiosks: Organizations also reported a desire for small-group breakout rooms, kiosks or spaces – with virtual telepresence options – to allow for project and small-cluster learning activities.
  • Classrooms Need Fixing and Updating: Many technologies in current classrooms are 5 to 10 years old. Projectors are often low resolution while video content is in high def; learning video conferencing technology is often several generations old while Skype and desktop video are often blocked by the firewall.

Perspectives and Opinions

This survey project was conducted by Elliott Masie, Chair of the Learning CONSORTIUM, and Joyce Chan, a Research Intern from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY (age 21). Here are their perspectives on the classroom of the future and the findings of this report:

Joyce Chan:

As a young person planning to enter the workforce after graduation, I will likely be spending time in a corporate classroom during my first few weeks on the job. Here are some of my hopes and expectations for learning functionality that my generation wants to see in our classrooms:

  • Globally connected. I hope that my future classroom is equipped with technology that allows me to easily communicate with someone in a different region or time zone. Video conferencing is the solution to inadequate face-to-face time, and it will give me the access to new colleagues around the globe.
  • Ability to record video/audio of classroom and access to content. I would like the ability to have classes recorded so that I could review them at a later point and reference specific ideas. Time-shifting and personal control over content access will supercharge my learning.
  • More interaction, less lecture. Throughout my years of education, PowerPoint and lectures have not always been the most effective method of teaching. I felt the classes where I learned the most involved group work and roundtables.  Please keep us active and engaged!
  • Blended approach to instruction. We are the "blended" generation of learners.  Although some concepts may be best taught in the classroom, I am looking forward to a blend of video, e-Learning, face-to-face interaction, on-the-job training and coaching. The best way I learn is in the field and hands on, observing with close proximity to expertise.

Elliott Masie:

Personally, I was surprised by the findings of this project. The increased projected use of classrooms is a significant trend, one that needs to be matched by investments in technology, changes in teaching methodology and research on how to create spaces that truly accelerate the transfer of knowledge and skills.

As Joyce shared, our learners and their expectations are great opportunities for and challenges to our learning strategies. 2011 is a perfect time for organizations to take some critical steps:

  • Redesign Our Classrooms: Enhance the ability to capture content, bring in expertise or learners virtually. Provide increased student interactions and control/create flexibility in class size, format and design.
  • Blend Our Capabilities: The classroom should evolve into a Learning Lab, Learning Studio, Learning Workplace and Learning Center, changing with evolving designs, learners and outcomes.
  • Research and Evidence, please!  We need to have increased research that examines the most impactful uses of classroom sessions with a focus on gathering evidence to help guide our technology investments and instructional decisions.
  • A Strategy Needed: Organizations should articulate the role of the classroom in their learning strategies, deploying it for the ideal instructional, collaborative and cultural outcomes.



Here are some interesting quotes from respondents:

"I liked Kindergarten, where we sat in a circle and told stories. I liked college, when we sat outside under the trees to discuss literature. I liked the time we had bean bags at a learning conference, I think we get a much richer experience when we step away from the slides/handouts and we use our concurrent time to collaborate in rich ways. I DREAD the times when I walk into a class and someone hands me a 150-page workbook…"

"Students must understand they have no entitlement to tweet, twit, honk, snort, or anything else during presentations. We tried a pilot where a designated logger/twit transcribed everything that went on. At the end of five weeks, we had a very well executed log, but the student could not recall virtually anything from the material presented – all mental powers were involved in transmitting v. receiving. This is a lesson for everyone else who feels their commentary is so extraordinarily important it must be published."

"Our instruction is divided between classroom instructor led learning and practical application of those learnings in a functional collusion repair body shop. In a perfect world, most of the education should take place in the shop, not the classroom. The classroom should be utilized for discussions concerning what occurred in the shop, for end of the day roundtables and for activities that augment what we teach in the shop area."

This survey was conducted by The MASIE Center and The Learning CONSORTIUM in March 2011. The MASIE Center is a research think tank, focused on learning and based in Saratoga Springs, NY. The results of this survey are placed in the public domain. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.