Epson's Ambassador School creates future classroom

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What happens when imagination and collaboration are brought together by a creative vision? The answer is Shaftesbury School’s future classroom.

Curated by Alex More, Lead Teacher of Innovation in Teaching & Learning, following his frustration with the rigidity of the classroom environment and the linear process of education, it brings learning to life in an interdisciplinary and sensory engaging way.

He explains: “Since the industrial revolution children have been taught sitting in lined up desks in front of a teacher writing on a board. This got them ready for a life of being told what to do by their bosses. That is not the case now. The workplace wants presenters and inquisitive team members that are confident to share their ideas, explore options, challenge and be OK with being challenged. The future classroom encourages this freedom to investigate. It allows students to immerse themselves fully and unselfconsciously.”

Phase 1 of the project identified a disused space at school and Alex began contacting partners to help guide and support him on bringing together a wide range of ideas. This presented many opportunities for learning for all involved.

One of the first elements to be installed was the Epson EB-1485FI projector provided as part of the Epson ambassador’s school project, in which Shaftesbury was one of ten schools in the country to participate. The projector works with a with a SMIT visual board with wired in speakers and Mozaik 3D software. The latter is an interactive way to augment 3D models into the classroom via the projector. Students can visit the Globe Theatre or an erupting volcano. It brings learning to life. There are 13 whiteboards allowing students to write on the walls, a 360-degree camera enabling images to be downloaded and reviewed and a Catchbox microphone connected to Epson speakers so even the quietest voice in the room can be heard.

Alex comments: “The display size of the SMIT visual board is 120 inches, much larger than the 70 inches we are used to, which makes things so much more immersive. The results are really transformative. Students can get to grips with 3D modelling and image size and more than one person can interact with the software at once.” 

With Mozaik students have access to up to 1200 3D scenes plus hundreds of educational videos, tools and games. Digital books and presentations can be enriched with images, drawings and interactive 3D scenes and custom worksheets can be created with the built-in test editor in mozaBook. Teachers can also create presentations or turn their files into interactive digital textbooks. The software supports easy integration with technology such as the Epson projector and enables user friendly touchscreen functionality. Its user interface can adapt display size accordingly for learning adaptability.

He continues: “The teachers love it. I have since purchased a one-year Mozaik licence as it was proving so popular the five free downloads per week were being hit on the first day of the week! The students think it is awesome. They love the ability to co-create with the spilt screen as well as the 3D modelling feature. It’s had a huge impact on learning too, specifically cognitive load. The quality of the 3D models is amazing and allows them to dissect items and zoom in and interact with images through Epson’s touch features.”

He adds: “I didn’t want a room of technology without a teacher. I wanted to use technology to compliment the teacher and this works amazingly well.”

The future classroom is not just driven by the tech. The environment is important too – a plant wall sponsored by Biotecture is absorbing carbon dioxide and a Gratnells Learnometer ensures the best classroom environment by monitoring seven measurements including ambient temperature, levels of fine dust particles and CO2.

“40 out of 60 staff are trained to use the room already and 20 use it regularly,” states Alex. “As a HundrED ambassador (a global community of education stakeholders driving change in K12 education) I can link to classrooms around the world and participate in workshops. We have opened up a corner of our world to the global stage. Our students are even going to be teaching students in Ghana. They are part of an international community.”

Phase 2 has just been launched and focuses more on three Is – International, Intergenerational and Interdisciplinary. International looks to develop local and global Science, Technology, English or Maths (STEM) partnerships, Intergenerational will see students working with people over 65 who will tutor them. This allows those who are retired to share their knowledge and those who need support to have access to a wider range of expertise. Interdisciplinary supports learning from a more integrated perspective. Rather than just learning the core subjects, students are encouraged to develop knowledge as part of a larger project.

Explains Alex: “We want the learning to be much broader and inclusive beyond the basic subjects. We also want the future classroom to support more than just the students in the school.  For example, one of the initiatives includes a course for parents. It involves Australian company Curious Immersive which uses Redbox VR to deliver an immersive virtual reality mental health and wellness programme called Wise. It helps develop ways to manage emotions in the household and we are the first in Europe to trial it.”

He concludes: “It is a real privilege to have all these connections to help create a living breathing classroom. It challenges the status quo and opens people’s eyes to what is possible. Everyone is learning all the time as the classroom evolves and it is exciting to see its role within the school and community – local and global – continue to grow.”