Session 41 – Thursday 14th April 2011

Session Title:

In an ideal world, what would the learning environment in your school to be like?

Summary:

This was a discussion that seemed to provoke lots of passionate viewpoints – it’s a topic that brings out our idealism as teachers! Towards the end of the discussion, @dmchugh675 referred to a blog post about a minibus as a learning environment and the comment at the end of the post – “It got me thinking about my role: is it to teach or to create opportunities for learning?” – sums up the discussion, I think! It was heartening to hear the focus of the discussion being on learning rather than teaching – something  commented on by more than one person!

The spaces that people were keen to see were those that support collaborations, learner-led/centred learning, full involvement of ALL adults/learners and where leadership allows teachers the freedom to experiment with new ideas.  Team teaching was seen as valuable (when chosen not imposed!). It seemed that FLEXIBILITY was a key feature of our ideal learning spaces – it’s not just having LARGE spaces, but a mix of spaces, including smaller, partially enclosed spaces. Corridors – do we need them?! The principles of EYFS (early years and foundation stage), which provide such stimulating, child centred learning environments, seem to be lost as learners progress through the system and there are more perceived limitations to the way learning HAS to take place…. One contributor referred to it as a sausage machine, where the scope becomes increasingly narrow as learners progress.  Some secondary/HE practitioners mentioned how colourful and stimulating primary classrooms are – but they are fighting against a nomadic existence and often don’t have a “home” classroom to call their own. Physical needs such as temperature or reflections on whiteboards are still an issue for many of us!  Some of those with very open learning spaces were putting walls back up – some SEN pupils in particular find it easier to learn in smaller spaces. One contributor commented that ultimately their learning space was their brain (though I think that is only an effective learning space when we open our brains to other people and their ideas, too!).

The pedagogy and theories behind how children learn were thought to be fundamental when designing learning spaces; learning spaces would enable both formal and informal learning to take place.  Learning spaces don’t just need to be physical – they can encompass the virtual learning spaces we participate in, too (such as #ukedchat!).  Our challenge as teachers is to overcome the constraints of the buildings our schools inhabit, which were often built in a different age (or emulate them) and reflect a different style of teaching.  The challenge is to let the learning happen whatever the environment is. Some commented that the teacher is more influential than the space – which I think CAN be true, as we can make the most of the space we have or use the learning space ineffectively. But inspiring spaces can lead to inspiring learning opportunities, too.

Eye-Catching Tweets from Session:

TheHeadsOffice: RT @CliveBuckley: RT @colport:  Environment that works best – 2 b serious…. one where learning happens without me looking for it #ukedchat

HAH26: #ukedchat pupil centred collaborative e-learning. Shared outcomes, skill dev. Higher order

questioning, AfL. Think that covers it!!!!

rashush2: how can we simultaneously provide for those who love variety and stimulation, and those who thrive on order/direction (ASD esp) #ukedchat

MattSL: RT @ICTmagic: @colport A space that allows the children to guide their own learning & decide on what resources they use to make it happen. #ukedchat

DrAshCasey: The learning environment would be based on praxis (theoretically informed practice) and would consider how children learn best #ukedchat

ePaceonline: #ukedchat I would like learning environments to not just be classrooms!!

DrAshCasey: #ukedchat an environment that puts social learning and academic learning on an even keel. Kids learning to work together & for each other.

Colport: RT @bellaale: #ukedchat open, organic, flexible, fun, ecological, visually appealing <~- Running off EYFS principles then?

janwebb21: @DrAshCasey and recognises that learning takes place in many contexts!! values less formal learning contexts #ukedchat

mattbuxton10: Where artificial barriers which separate subjects/disciplines in schools are reduced to reflect the trans-disciplinary real-world #ukedchat

kath_brentford: #ukedchat room for children to learn that which is not on the curriculum, to go off-road and follow their interests

sh1916: #ukedchat the ideal learning space would be bright, correct temperature, visually welcoming and free from outside noise/interruptions.

swelsh04: #ukedchat open, resourced, tactile, formal/informal learning areas, break out zones, furnished, well lit. Like csi but with proper science

normal_for_jp: #ukedchat safe space to fail.

RavenEllison: Basic sanitation (nice and clean toilets) and zero tolerance to human rights abuses (physical violence etc.) need to be nailed. #ukedchat

Tweet/s of the Week:

Smichael920: #ukedchat r most classes still organised 4 control & formal learning rather than learner centred? It’s school, adopt the learning position!

Web Links Highlighted During the Session:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/what-school-lunches-look-like-in-20-countries-arou

http://www.mangahigh.com/static/images/pdf/ISQ_Trial_Results_March_2011_v4__Final_.pdf?utm_source=shortener&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=isq

http://www.elearnmag.org/subpage.cfm?section=articles&article=154-1&sms_ss=twitter&at_xt=4da742a2f4df7468,0

http://edu.blogs.com/edublogs/2010/10/-cefpi-tep10-the-seven-spaces-of-technology-in-school-environments.html

http://edu.blogs.com/edublogs/2011/01/if-you-truly-want-to-engage-pupils-relinquish-the-reins-and-give-them-the-chance-to-learn-by-doing.html

http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/cgi-bin/go.pl/article/article.html?uid=82405;section=Features&#8221;;type_uid=2

http://www.space4pl.org/

http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/infokits/learning-space-design

http://www.imagineschooldesign.org/

http://www.proposedacademyforportland.org.uk/vision.html

http://www.hightechhigh.org/

http://rubble.heppell.net/three/

http://merseaislandschool.wikispaces.com/file/view/schooltour3.swf/183522999/schooltour3.swf

http://www.thecoolhunter.com.au/cloud/view/Schools

http://dmchugh675.edublogs.org/2010/11/05/accidental-leaners/

About your Host:

I’m a primary teacher who has been working in my LA as a lead teacher and as a Primary ICT consultant.  I’m currently seconded to Microsoft to manage the Partners in Learning Innovative Teacher Programme.  I love using tech to enhance learning and am especially interested in opportunities for collaboration and co-construction of learning. I’m also studying for my Masters, looking at digital learning dialogue at the moment.

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