Kent State High-Tech Classroom Fosters Research
At first glance, it looks like a typical classroom. But if you look closer, you will see a state-of-the-art, one-of-a-kind teaching facility not found on any other college campus.
It is called the AT&T Classroom, located on the bottom floor of Kent State University’s Moulton Hall. The classroom is part of the Research Center for Educational Technology within the College of Education, Health and Human Services. Inside, it is loaded with the latest digital gadgets, including iPads, iPods, Apple TV, 3D glasses and a Smartboard. It also has a Boogie Board, which is an LCD writing tablet.
Besides the learning going on in the classroom, it is also happening behind a two-way mirror, allowing researchers to observe how visiting teachers and elementary students interact with technology.
“One of the difficulties with K-12 research is that going into a classroom is so intrusive,” said Annette Kratcoski, Ph.D., director of the Research Center for Educational Technology at Kent State. “The moment a researchers goes in there, it changes the natural setting of that classroom and it changes what happens in that classroom.”
Cameras are strategically mounted on the ceiling, giving researchers a clear view of everything from eye movement to keystrokes and even the projects that students are creating.
“We are also able to zoom in with the cameras so we can capture what’s happening on any given laptop,” Kratcoski said. “You can still have a very close observation of what a student is doing or be able to look at a student’s work without hovering over them.”
As part of a study lead by Bradley Morris, Ph.D., associate professor of educational psychology in Kent State’s School of Lifespan Development and Educational Sciences, student researchers examined the effects of spatial mapping as first graders from Carlin Elementary in Ravenna, Ohio, were presented numbers on a line.
The researcher team will present its findings at an upcoming conference.
“Anybody who works with kids knows that a lot of time you have to go to the schools, which is a lot more difficult than them coming here,” said graduate student Patrick Cravalho, who is studying educational psychology in Kent State’s School of Lifespan Development and Educational Sciences. “The technology is the big reason they do that, that’s kind of the draw.”
The classroom has had close to 30 districts participate, and it continues to draw from all nearby schools. The elementary students are bused to Kent State where they spend a half-day interacting with cutting-edge technology. It is also an opportunity for teachers to develop new skills and use digital tools not commonly found in their schools.
“We get great support from Kent State,” said Dennis Honkala, superintendent of the Ravenna School District. “Our staff has the opportunity not only to work for a couple of months here at Kent State, but also the opportunity to take back that technology to the classroom.”
As technology has evolved over the years, so has the AT&T Classroom since it opened in 1998.
The hope for the future is to take what researchers learn and bring it to the next level.
“We want to become a facility where we not only are using tools, but we are also developing new tools and apps and testing them out right here,” Kratcoski said. “That would be a very exciting opportunity for the university.”.
For more information about Kent State’s Research Center for Educational Technology and the AT&T Classroom, visit: www.kent.edu/rcet
For more information about Kent State’s College of Education, Health and Human Services, visit www.kent.edu/ehhs.
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