You walk through the door on the first day of school, and instead of desks, chairs or even a blackboard, you’re greeted by bean bag seats and a huge augmented reality monitor. Scattered around the room are groups of fellow students huddled around communal screens. Someone hands you an iPad to take with you to all of your classes.
This classroom exists, and the Gordon Academic College of Education believes it may be the ideal model for future classrooms.
Professor Rhonda Sofer, Gordon's International Office Director, elaborated on the school’s belief in technology and constant innovation serving key roles in modern education.
“Teaching has to be brought into the 21st century. We need to engage the learner, and we have to have our students of education be engaged as learners,” said Sofer, highlighting the mantra of Gordon’s president, Professor Yecheskel Taler: “If we haven't done anything new this year, we've gone backwards.”
Connecting sectors of the academic world
Sofer has spent several years acting as “the bridge between Gordon College’s amazing expertise and the rest of the world.” During her tenure, the college has accomplished several first-of-their-kind international partnerships, including a recent cooperation agreement with three universities in Chile, and hosting international programs with participation from educational institutes in Germany, the UK, Georgia, Estonia, and more.
The company is currently leading an adult education project dealing with internet safety. “We're going to use our expertise in gamification to help parents and teachers and guardians know how to work with kids — their children, our students, our children, pupils — on the topic of cyber bullying and addiction,” she said.
The reason that Gordon has been able to make these projects happen, Sofer explained, lies in its all-in approach to innovation. The organization’s leaders are willing to take pretty hefty risks in order to find the future of education.
“We have a strong administration that are not afraid to try new things. Even if it might not succeed they want if they feel it's a good idea they want us to try. And if it doesn't work, we can try again and figure out why it doesn't work,” she said. As a result of this, “Gordon has ventured into areas that no other academic institution of higher education has ventured into in this country.”
Finding the right innovative teaching methods is key to Gordon’s mission statement. As younger generations continue to become more connected, multitasking, and online, finding and maintaining engagement is of the utmost importance, Sofer believes.
“The future of education has to be dynamic, and it has to be unafraid of change,” she said. “We have to be leaders in that change, because society is changing, and we can't be lagging behind. So education has to be in the forefront, but never forgetting the important values that guide both learning and teaching. That’s just common sense.”