THINK ABOUT: In this paper, the authors propose a model for a ‘perfect’ learning environment, based on their research on the influence of technology and space on learning. When you see the resultant proposed space, does it now feel out-of-date, have you experienced good or poor learning in a similar space, and are there elements that are worth maintaining in new learning space design?
Don’t forget to keep a record of some of your reflections and emerging insights. When you observe learning and teaching examples such as Rylands (2006) and Cairns (2009), you will probably notice different types of activity. What works about the spaces being used for each purpose? What problems are there with the spaces being used? How does the type of space influence teacher and learner behaviour? There are many ideas to consider, and the influences at play create opportunities if we seize them.Discussion Forum: Thinking about spaces
What are the changes in non-digital activities in your day-to-day life, or in your learning environment, which have clearly occurred because of the influence of digital in our lives?
How might we categorise the different ways we use our space in order to better plan for its use for learning?

 

I don’t think there is a ‘perfect’ learning environment. Each school or educational community is very different, requiring different learning spaces to meet the needs of their student users. However, I do think that even in the 4 years since Kuuskorpi, M. & Cabellos González (2011) introduced these proposed space, that it now does indeed look out-of-date. They do acknowledge that”the basic structure of teaching spaces does not seem to have evolved much over the past century” (2011, 2). While there appears to be different learning spaces they are not separated to allow for a variety of simultaneous learning situations . It still looks very traditional with reliance on desks and chairs, and very little open space or comfortable furnishings to provide for such as the ‘seven spaces’ (McIntosh, 2010). However, traditional spaces can still work as seen in the teaching examples of Rylands (2006) and Cairns (2009) which show how the activity is still related very closely to the space. In the Ryland example, the whole class is watching the Myst example from rows of desks. Today, students most probably have 1:1 access to watch the episode themselves. However, the focus on this particular learning session was on engaging the students collaboratively in conversation, not individual immersion in the video. So even today, this learning activity and spacial environment would still be relevant. I liked especially how the teacher sat among the students, and became a facilitator rather than a teacher on the ‘stage’ at the front. It promoted more conversation. The Cairns (2009) video was the opposite, looking at learning in the outdoor environment. I think this type of learning is still not as widely used as it should or could be. Learning is often constrained within the four walls of a classroom. It doesn’t matter which learning space is used, there will be both positive and negative aspects to it, in relation to student learning and behaviour. As Doorley & Witthoft (2012, 4) quote: “Space matters. We read our physical environment like we read a human face”. I believe the main idea is to continually change and modify the learning environment to suit the needs of the activities and the users, or to allow them to change and modify as they require. A classroom should not be in the same design space at the end of the school year, as it began…yet, I am sure this is still often the case. We see this especially in secondary school learning spaces.

Thinking about changes in non-digital activities in my day-to-day life teaching/ learning environment, which have clearly occurred because of the influence of digital in our lives is very clear. I teach in the classroom rather than having the students come to the library for a number of reasons, including technology, time and space. The schedule is so constrained that having movement between class and library space would lose learning time. So, I go to the classroom. Students also have access to 1:1 ipad and IWB, and the classroom space does not have to compete with multiple users and hence acoustic distractions.

So, how might we categorize the different ways we use our space in order to better plan for its use for learning? I do like the seven spaces of Locke and McIntosh, in this module. I think whichever way we define it, we need to consider it in relation to different learning styles of our students, the purpose of the activity and the space – having spaces for individual, quiet reflection; noisy collaborative group work; whole class and small group work spaces; spaces for hands-on inquiry.

References: 

Doorley, D., & Witthoft, S. (2012). Make space: How to set the stage for creative collaboration. John Wiley & Sons.

Kuuskorpi, M. & Cabellos González, N. (2011),The future of the physical learning environment: School facilities that support the User, CELE Exchange, Centre for Effective Learning Environments, 2011/11, OECD Publishing. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5kg0lkz2d9f2-en

McIntosh, E. (2010). Clicks and bricks: How school buildings influence future practice and technology adoption,Educational Facility Planner, Volume 45, Issues 1 & 2. CEFPI. Retrieved from http://media.cefpi.org/efp/EFP45-1and2McIntosh.pdf

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