Fermilab LInC Online

Educational Environment of the Future


Student Pages
Index of Projects


The participants are classroom teachers from all curricular areas. They will be working in educational teams of  3-4 members. The suggested time length for this staff development design will be 13 weeks, meeting once a week for 3 hours each. Although we would like to be a bit more creative with this timeline, we are under obligation to provide graduate credit within a traditional university's system.   Perhaps the online communication opportunity that has been well planned out and tested before the start of the first meeting, will serve as in infusion within the course for use by the participants as part of their  "just in time" learning experience.  This scenario is written for the first three weeks of this course.  Graduate credit is available for this "Engaged Learning and Technology Experience". The syllabus has been made available before this first meeting. They will be introduced to the indicators of engaged learning through a simulation presented in a problem to solve. Adult learners need to have an opportunity to design their own learning, just as students in the classroom should be able to make some choices in the direction of their learning.  The couse is facilitated by a team of educators, Gina, Barbara, and Luci. designed with a contructivist pedagogy which, hopefully, will promote new thinking for the future of education in rapidly changing times.

Beginning/Getting Started

The first session is just beginning. Numerous strategies are used to establish an environment for learning that will establish a professional spirit and a care giving atmosphere for our adult learners. Table materials and packets have been passed out at the round tables set up for 5-6 participants.  It is important that the environment encourages collaboration and using this room design adds to this support.  Music is playing softly in the backgound, visuals are up all over the room that address student learning, powerpoint is looping with a few reflective statements about learning and characteristics about engaged learning, and refreshments are available.

A pre-assessment chart has been created and posted as an enlarged poster as they enter the room.

The two pre-assessment questions are:
Please place a check which indicates your answer.
1. How often do you use the Internet?
2. What is engaged 
I have heard the words engaged learning. I use the indicators of engaged learning in my classroom. I could teach this class.

We definitely start on time to honor their time.

Opener:  Barb begins, "Welcome to our first meeting together!" She goes on to explain the logistics of the class with a discussion of the syllabus, any forms that have need to be submitted, and discussions about assessment. She asks each of them to introduce themselves and ask them to share one expectation from this learning experience that they hope to achieve from this course.  Barb starts and shares hers.  Each of the  participants share their expectations as everyone takes a turn.  Luci and Gina, two other facilitators introduce themselves and share theirs as well.  Gina continues by saying,   "We would like to begin with a video snippet from "Bugs Life".  How many of you have seen it? "  A few of the particapants indicate that they have.  Luci plays the video.
(This snippet is taken from the the beginning of the tree visual shown in the beginning to the part just after it says that " You are the trained professionals".) Mary, a participant, says, "Now I have got to see the rest of that movie!"  A prepared powerpoint slide is used as a visual in the background, while Gina picks up some of the pieces from the snippet in this manner.  "You are the:

        Educational change, in the era of technological reform needs a deeper understanding and is a challenge for all of us.
        Change happens without even trying, but "good change", that is something that does not come easily.
        (Jaimie McKenzie).
Luci Sweder, one of the facilitator says, "I believe that the real starting point for "good change" rests in your hands and minds because you are the the real designers of the future!!!" To reaffirm this statement, let me read this exciting invitation for you.

To all Teachers,

The National Education Association and American Federation of Teacher are sponsoring a challenge to find a design for the best learning environment of the future! The primary goal is to engage all students in learning to their fullest potential!!! These organizations will fund the top three proposals with the winning educators as paid consultants/teachers. Your challenge: Design a new type of learning environment. What does it look like? Where is it? Who will attend the school? Is it a building? Is it a virtual environment? What is the mission? What is the curriculum? How do the students learn?

You will work in teams of 3-4 people to accept this challenge. To help eveyone get started, what are some ideas that some of you might share to help us begin?

John says," Since I use the Internet regularly, I might start to use google.com or altavista to research instructional pedagogies.

Mary responded, "We should try to reflect and think about what characteristics do the children have today that are unique for their time. These answers might guide us to discover some new answers.

Amy says, " That's right, we have to think outside of the box to design good learning environments.


Luci, one of the facilitators says, "You have some good suggestions to begin with.  We have prepared an Internet site where you can begin by reading the challenge yourselves and begin your investigations. By using this site you will be able to gather information to dream and design the learning environment of the future. You will be connected with mentors and futurists in education. When your team (members signed up as teams for this class) meets, you will be able to discuss the product that will result from this model. You will work on eproject as a team to collaborate and share ideas, documents in development and create presentations to share. You can invite and add mentors to this site to review your conversations and assist you with your project. We also value your expertise and have provided you with an opportunity to add additional resources to the resource page.  Your team can use Inspiration to create a mind-map for those would like to brainstorm as a mind map.  Here are a few suggestions that you might want to include as you begin.

Middle/In Progress

Phase 1
The teams move into the provided area and begin their discussions and explorations.  The team of facilitators assist any teams with their technical and content needs.  They facilitate and guide as needed.  Teams work to decide on topic areas in education that they would want to include in their designs of the future.  Some of the teams select to use Inspiration, word processing, data bases, and other application software to meet their needs. All the teams assess the resources and learn how to add more suggestions for everyone to use.

After one hour, the teams return to the other room for discussion and sharing of topic areas. Barbara reviews what is needed to proceed.  "Each team will offer one topic area that they feel is important to be included in their future school design.  We will
continue to go around until all topic areas have been included.  During this process you will be given the opportunity to add additional comments to each of the areas.  We will look to see if there are any similar areas that could be combined until we agree upon the topic areas."  Teams contributed and the following list resulted from their contributions.

Phase 2

The teams return the following week and Luci facilitates the the opening meeting of teams, while Barb and Gina check technology preparations and functionality.
Luci says, "Welcome back!  I have enjoyed reading your postings and contributions that will help all the teams proceed.  I just want to reassure you that if you are having some technical difficulties of posting or using Blackboard.com, we will provide and assist you as needed.

"It is time to talk and clarify any questions about assessment and how you will be graded in this class. . I have some ideas. Perhaps you can generate some more. Assessment is ongoing. It does not mean taking one big paper and pencil test at the end of the course. We will be looking at your weekly journal entries, where you respond to our questions and reflect on what you have done for the day. We will also be continuously looking at the notes and research you keep in your individual participant journals. During class periods, we will collect assessment data by observing each of you at work within your groups, as well as when you report out to the group/class, post information in the bulletin board for all to see, respond to others' posting, and your participation in chat sessions. You will have two very definite projects due for the class, the first being your future school proposal for the IEA/NEA/AFT contest. That will need to be assessed too. You will have most of the evening for work time after we discuss rubric editing. "

From your postings the facilitators have summed up your responses for rubrics for this first project.

Here is the example rubric that Barbara provided for you and that was posted on the site for your review.
Total Points
Project Development
Data Gathering/ Research All data is gathered from information in the classroom or no data gathering is evident. Participants/groups depend on gathering data or input from local sources only, using at least two methods. 

Data gathering is incomplete.

Participants/groups depend on gathering data or input from at least one geographically distant partner using a number of methods such as experts, e-mail, online resources. 

Data gathering is almost complete.

Participants/groups depend on gathering data or input from a number of geographically distant partners using a number of methods such as experts, e-mail, online resources.

Data gathering is complete.

Reporting Participants contributed nothing to the group or the class. Participants contributed infrequently to the group or to the class. Participants contributed frequently to the group or to the class.  Participants contributed frequently to the group or to the class. 
Use of Technology
Appropriate use of technology Technology is not an integral part of the activity. Tasks could be accomplished as easily and effectively without the use of technology.  Technology is used infrequently for a few tasks. Most tasks were accomplished without the use of technology. There is infrequent use of technology for some participants. Technology is used for many activities. There is regular individual and group use of technology for most participants. The activity would not have been feasible or as effective without the almost constant use of technology.
Information Access The activity's use of the Internet treats participants as passive recipients of information, is not well defined, or is a trivial use of the medium. The activity's use of the Internet is focused and may originate from a teacher designed web site. The activity's use of the Internet helps participants achieve goals by by going beyond the facilitator's list of sources and actively involving them in searching for information or communicating with peers or experts. The activity's use of the Internet helps students achieve goals by actively involving them in searching for information or communicating with peers or experts AND synthesizing information and data into a presentation that is published online.
Topic Components Only 1-2 of the topic components are present. Some of them present are lacking in development. Three or more topic components are missing. Those included are well developed. One or two of the topic components are missing, the rest have been well developed. All of the topic components have been included and are well developed.
Web Page Design (if chosen project form)
Now that you have had a week to investigate the various topic areas of your project, do you have any recommendations to add or change to this rubric?   Suggestions are brought forth from the teams.  After half an hour agreement comes from all the teams and it will be edited by Luci and posted tonight for all teams to see.

Now the teams will continue to work in the lab and mini-sessions are provided for members of the team who are in charge of web design, postings, and other needs on one to one.  The other members of the team will continue to work on the future school development.  Facilitators take on various guiding and coach roles as the teams work.
The entire class meets back in the meeting room before leaving.

Gina revisits some of the common difficulties and questions groups are having.  Each team briefly reports out where they are at and what needs to be done.  Gina says, "Continue to post your journal responses and updates to the journal pages.  Presentations will occur weeks 3-4.  Even after the presentations, you will be able to edit your future school designs to your websites, before submitting your entries to the NEA/AFT competition."

Phase 3-4

Teams return and present their projects. Rubrics are used by the entire class to evaluate and be constructive colleagues for the other team projects in the area of  "Web design" and "Proposal Development."  Teams can than be given the comments and evaluations so that they can edit their contest proposals.

Presentations were finally made to the class the 4-5th weeks. Many diverse, but great ideas were presented and justified for future school environments. Various aspects of engaged learning, if not EL itself and integration of technology were evident in most all of the presentations. Each group not only rated their own presentation against the rubric, but also rated the presentations of the other groups, as well. That way the participants felt they would have a variety of opinions and would be able to make last minute changes before their proposals were sent off to the contest.

When the presentations were completed, participants were asked to assimilate what they had learned about both the process they had gone through, as well as the environments they had generated. After some talking one participant said, "you know what? I'll bet you just put us through an engaged learning process to teach us how to do it." "Wow" another participant said, "I was so busy designing the environment and doing the tasks, I did not even consider that. It was a fun way to learn." Yet another participant indicated that the class would not have been able to do this project nearly as fast or effectively without the power of the Internet.

As facilitators we were ecstatic! "I'd like to teach my students this way? Today, not in the school of the future, spouted on of the class members."

"You can, you know! Because your actions just proved - that one idea for a school of the future can work today." Participants eagerly agreed that they would like to learn more about integrating engaged learning with technology into their current classrooms.

"Okay, that's where we will go." Participants left the 5th night armed with a list of web sites on engaged learning, some print sources, and a copy of Plugging In, as well as online examples of successful projects utilizing the engaged learning indicators. They were asked to begin thinking about three topics they might like to turn into an engaged learning unit.

Phase 5-13
The class continues with reflections about their simulated experienceof engaged learning. They begin the 5th week by identifying the indicators of engaged learning that they experienced, the ones that they did not, and suggest ways that they could be cognizant of ways to include most of the indicators in their own engaged learning lesson design and development that they will be developing the second part of this course.  

Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

Author(s): Lucianne Sweder
School: Professional Development Alliance/Regional Office of Education for Will and Grundy/Kendall Counties,
                Joliet, IL, Learning Technology Center One South, Joliet, IL
Created: February 15, 2001 - Updated: April 18, 2001
URL: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w01/projects/futureschool/scenariols.html