Learning by Teaching: The Future of Classrooms

Improved Teaching
Getting Students Involved

The world is embracing change. Education is evolving at a pace faster than any other period in recent history. In order to fit in the 21st century, a new educational system of improved standards and models have been created that fosters new technology and equally available learning resources, be it long distance or working individuals.

Classrooms of the future

In the traditional classroom, it is standard to learn in a synchronous manner, whereas the classrooms of the future are not limited to one specific place. Rather, distance has little affect on them and they are available to all through online learning platforms and virtual spaces. Just like the phrase one size fits all is not held true, likewise, each student does not have the same suitable conditions to get education in a traditional manner. The key ways education is believed to setting change in high school and universities in the near future are;

  • Induction of technology in education (EdTech)
  • Accessible and flexible at anyplace anytime
  • Real time experience through virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR)
  • New assessment techniques

Let's talk about these more in-depth:

1. Technology friendly

The education system of the future holds variety. Currently, it has evolved from heavy back packs to the use of high quality new technology. Instead text written on books with pictures set on the tables in front of the students, the use of tablets and eBooks is providing creative learning. All a student requires is a recent device, connectivity to an internet, working headsets for their online learning experience from the comfort of their home.

The onset of the pandemic around the globe has made even the traditional professors to turn to online education system. Even the teachers of the primary school and middle school had to devise ways of teaching their lesson plans to their little students online. To learn to accurately use the technology, webinars and professional development sessions have been offered to the facilitators that have been available at the comfort of their home workspace.

2. Accessible and flexible

Location is no longer a limiting factor to gain educational experience for students and teachers.  Teachers standing in front of the class in a room full of students is a concept of the past. Technology makes distance learning more accessible. Long distance accessibility offers a wide variety of programs from various universities and higher education without setting a foot in the physical classroom.

Online education gives the facilitator and the student a flexibility of setting their own schedule. Learning resources are kept available for each individual student at all times, so that they are able to get education while maintaining a good work-study balance. Nothing claims a sacrifice.

3. Virtual and augmented reality

The formal classroom will be replaced by learning areas that allow individuals, to have a real time classroom experience even through online sharing of the screen that is called as the virtual reality (VR). Small groups or larger groups will have the ability to collaborate virtually just like face-to-face on learning projects.

One of the biggest technology trends in the recent times is the Augmented reality abbreviated as AR. It is interactive experience of the real world environment through devices. This has greatly increased the learning outcomes. It enhances the abilities like problem-solving and prepares the students for the future by providing an innovative learning environment.

An online virtual classroom includes the following features:

  • Video conferencing
  • Digital whiteboards
  • Instant messaging
  • Participation controls: enabling students to participate in discussions or virtually “raise” their hands
  • Sub-chats: breakout rooms to facilitate collaborative learning and group work between learners
  • Video recording: to save live lectures as video-on-demand to aid the learning process

4. Peer assessment

For a course to be successful, engaging students is of the utmost importance, as it incorporates teaching methods that encourage new processes of learning. Some questions which should be considered are:

  1. What do students bring to the course?
  2. How many hours do students spend on coursework outside of the class?
  3. How often do students contact their professors?
  4. What studying strategies do students implement?

As a student myself, I wouldn't expect professors to know all the answers from the questions above. It is already difficult for professors to juggle their time between lecturing, research and administrative duties. However, it doesn't mean it isn't possible, as we are seeing many professors incorporating formative peer review as a way to integrate students in both the learning and teaching processes in a classroom.

Formative peer review is when students are introduced to new assignments and criteria to assess that assignment. By administering practice activities and keeping expectations clear, students are trained on how to assess and provide feedback on their peer's creations [1]. From the feedback that a student receives, students can compare the quality of their work with their peers in terms of whether they meet or exceed the expectations of their instructor. Through this process, students improve their critical thinking skills by reviewing the writing of their peers and gaining a better understanding of how their peers came to a particular conclusion.

Adaptive learning

Adaptive learning is a new method of assessing students and is being incorporated in various teaching institutes. Students no longer have to submit assignments in one particular way. They can find the way that best expresses their understanding of the subject or topic and then set about proving to the teacher that they know what they’re talking about.

How does peer review add value in the classroom?

While feedback is very valuable for improving knowledge retention, it is almost impossible for a professor to provide quality and consistent weekly feedback for each activity or assessment throughout the term. Peer review offers the opportunity to establish continuous feedback in courses which can be of great value to both students and professors. Here's how:

1. Creating dedicated & vigilant evaluators

Giving feedback isn't perceived as extensive extra work, so in return, students often put more thought to provide quality motivational and critical feedback that makes sense and is supported with reason. We typically see professors administering around 5 Kritik activities throughout the term. For each activity, students typically evaluate around 4 their peers’ creations. The evaluation process generally only takes on average approximately 8 minutes per evaluation, so ultimately we’re talking about an extra ~30 minutes of work per activity, once every 2 weeks, which is around 2.5 extra hours of work spread over the whole term. Through gamification, students natural competitive nature is highlighted and they are motivated to give feedback that their peers will find motivational and critical. It has become a great way for students to be actively engaged outside of classroom hours.

By completing a peer review on an online peer assessment tool, implementing anonymous feedback can be made much easier. Professors have even testified students having recognized and reported plagiarism from using an anonymous online peer assessment tool.

Why anonymity works?

For starters, it eliminates a lot of bias that students may have when evaluating their peers' assessments. It maintains the integrity of giving honest and direct feedback [3]. Also, students will be less self-conscious when providing reviews, saving them the time of having to over analyze every word or personalized message. Even for the perspective of the receiver, reading anonymous feedback or interpreting anonymous assessments of your work, it is more likely for students to take into consideration all the feedback their peers provided. Non-anonymous peer review tend to have skewed results where students provide similar evaluations and feedback for each student for social-related reasons.

2. Doing more with less

Implementing peer review in your classroom mimics a group dynamic such that students can rely on each other to track improvements in learning and how to better understand problems related to the course. This in return removes the need for students to rely on professors to ask the very same questions that their peers can address. Professors can feel good cutting office hours shorter by setting up an online peer assessment tool and spend more time teaching.

Using an online peer evaluation platform, opens up a new window for students to engage with different types of students in terms of knowledgeability, critical thinking skills and so on that they would not have before. It reduces students' social barriers while making the most of their experience related to the course.

3. A long-term studying strategy

While we know peer evaluation will help increase student accountability and autonomy, I think the most valuable outcome of peer evaluation is the retention strategies it has to offer students. According to a study of applied cognitive psychology conducted by Aloysius Wei Lun Koh, learning-by-teaching is proven effective when teaching involves the retrieval of taught materials. This way, students may manifest the teaching effect (1) during the evaluation stage, where students retrieve the information previously remembered to teach others through the feedback they provide.

Encouraging future TA's through Kritik

When students use Kritik for their courses they will fully absorb and interact with the material of the course. By providing constructive assessments and measuring feedback students develop the necessary evaluative skills for teaching assistant role.


Ideas and Strategies for Peer Assessments. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://isit.arts.ubc.ca/ideas-and-strategies-for-peer-assessments/

Cho, Kwangsu & MacArthur, Charles. (2010). Student revision with peer and expert reviewing. Learning and Instruction, 20(4). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2009.08.006

Brown, C. (2017, May 16). 7 Tips For Peer And Self-Assessment. Retrieved from https://www.teachertoolkit.co.uk/2017/05/18/peer-assessment/

Hester van den Bos, A.& Tan, E. (2019). Effects of anonymity on online peer review in second-language writing. Computers & Education, 142. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2019.103638

Navinaa Sanmugavadivel
Education enthusiast