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Learning Spaces

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This presentation looks at different types of learning spaces in relation to the teaching and learning needs of teachers and students. Every educational space needs to meet a particular need and this …

This presentation looks at different types of learning spaces in relation to the teaching and learning needs of teachers and students. Every educational space needs to meet a particular need and this presentation looks at the physical needs, curriculum and pedagogical affordances and issues and the key areas of importance for teachers and students, of each space.

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  • 1. Learning Spaces Investigating learning spaces within the context of education Presented by S. Slack
  • 2. Introduction “… a learning space should be able to motivate learners and promote learning as an activity, support collaborative as well as formal practice, provide a personalized and inclusive environment, and be flexible in the face of changing needs…” (JISC, 2006, p. 6). Learning spaces are no longer simply viewed as being merely a traditional classroom environment, they are the spaces through which students are able to engage and interact. Where teachers are able to meet the needs of a diverse range of students. Where students can be stimulated through the use of new learning environments that allow them to break away from what was once the ‘traditional’ classroom. Due to the changing and diverse needs of learners today, it is vital that teachers have an understanding of different learning spaces. This includes an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of learning spaces, the environments physical attributes and the implications this has on curriculum, pedagogy, teachers and students. This presentation will explore five learning spaces: ‘the classroom and school’, ‘beyond the classroom’, ‘the electronic learning space’, ‘the individual learning space’ and ‘the group learning space’. It will also explore learning in the 21st century and how learning spaces of the future will change to meet the needs of students affected by issues impacting on society.
  • 3. The Classroom and the School Physical The pictures seen on the left are examples of real life classrooms, the top one is a grade 2 class and the bottom two are Prep classes. In these pictures a number of physical features can be found, including: • Natural lighting • Technology, i.e. interactive whiteboard • Desks and chairs • A ‘home corner’ • Writing implements • Floor space • Displays of students work, i.e. posters and artwork. The advantages of these learning spaces are visually appealing, allow for students to easily understand how to move about the room and the spaces engage students as they allow for student work to be displayed which creates a sense of ownership and pride within the classroom. However, weaknesses are also present as the classroom can be seen as military and without a sense of adaptions to the individual needs of the students (Cinar, 2010). Photos (top to bottom), Grade 2 Classroom; Prep Home Corner; Prep Work Area All photos are personally taken from a local primary school
  • 4. The Classroom and the School Key Areas of Importance for Teachers and Students These include: • Access to natural sunlight to enhance concentration • Groups of tables that allow for student collaboration and discussion about various tasks • Tables set out in lines (left), which can be useful as all students can easily see the board and can work individually (Cinar, 2010) • Areas around the room such as the ‘reading corner’ that allow for students to engage in other aspects of curriculum and aid in their individual development • Students are able to view the outdoors (Douglas & Gifford, 2001). Photos (top to bottom), Grade 2 reading corner, Grade 1 classroom, Grade 1 Carpet Area All photos are personally taken from a local primary school
  • 5. Gardens as Outdoor Classrooms, 2013 Beyond the Classroom Physical Learning spaces are not limited to merely a classroom setting, much of students learning takes place beyond the classroom in settings, such as the wider community and through incursions and excursions. These allow the students to step out of the everyday classroom and can engage students that may not respond to mainstream teaching (Lorenza, 2009). It can cause anxiety and misconceptions when students are adequately prepared for the experiences, however, the positives of going beyond the classroom are rewarding (Lorenza, 2009). Curriculum and Pedagogy Excursions and incursions aid in students growth emotionally, socially, physically, and academically. It allows for students to experience and engage with real-life stimulus, such as gardening (shown to the right), and helps students to gain a greater understanding of theories, cultures and concepts that they have explored within the classroom (Johnson, 2009). Taking students outside the classroom, can however cause problems if the learning space is not planned properly, and as a result teachers may opt for an easy way out and students miss out of meaningful experiences. Key Areas of Importance for Teachers and Students Students have the opportunity to gain an increase in their “self-esteem, self-confidence, motivation, social behaviour, awareness and interaction" (Lorenza, 2009, p. 24). It also caters effectively for students with diverse learning needs.
  • 6. The Electronic Learning Space Physical This space, as can be seen in the photographs to the left, incorporates a wide variety of ICT’s. These include, but are not limited to, computers, laptops, iPads, SmartBoards, camera’s, video conferencing, Skype, kindle’s and tablets. It encompasses four uses; used as a tutor, used to explore, applied as a tool and used to communicate. The use of such ICT, with the guidance and scaffolding of the teacher is beneficial in improving and making practices more efficient. It provides students with opportunities to engage in activities that are interactive and hands on. The weaknesses of this learning space are that students can become easily distracted, and with their knowledge of ICT, can easily go off task and access inappropriate information without the teachers knowledge. These technologies can also be expensive and may not be readily available to all students, both inside and outside of the classroom. Curriculum and Pedagogy This type of learning space allows for the creation of self-directed learning. Teachers are able to use certain applications and websites to set tasks and monitor student progress and achievement in an efficient and easy way. The use of an electronic learning space can become tedious for teachers as it may require significant up keep and professional development in order to be used effectively. Key Areas of Importance for Teachers and Students • Students can engage and continue with class work outside of the classroom • Student progress can be monitored online and feedback can be given more efficiently • Students are able to investigate and advance their knowledge in topics of interest • If used effectively, it provides hands on learning experiences that cater for visual learners • Allows for the sharing of files and work with family and friends • Can be used as a communication tool between teacher and parents to keep the lines of communication open (Black, 2008; Laurillad, 2005; Twining, 2009) Photos (top to bottom): Interactive whiteboard, utilizing iPads for music, laptops in the classroom
  • 7. The Individual Learning Space Individual learning spaces are set up by the students, or possibly parents. It is where individual work or study is often completed, whether at school or at home. To the left are two examples of an individual learning space. They: • Cater for the individuals learning style and needs • Do not need to be merely a desk workspace • Can include laptops, computers, desks, beds, outside areas, bean bags, cushions, couches, nature etc. The desk (left), has all the study materials needed for this individual, they are easily accessed, the desk is facing a wall to avoid distraction, there is natural lighting from a near by window and the room is air-conditioned for easy temperature control. This however, do not cater for group collaboration, or engagement with peers. Individual learn spaces Study area within the house Curriculum and Pedagogy Due to it being an individual space, students are able to set up their space how they learn best in order to engage with the work set. It is in individual learning spaces where students generally complete their homework and assignments, thus their learning space can either have a positive effect or be a hindrance for their study. If their study area is too noisy, set up in front of the television, in an area of the house with high traffic, it can be distracting and cause the student to do work that is incomplete and not up to their normal standard of work. Although not all students will be able to effectively work individually, and may need an individual space set up next to, or around other students, it is important that students learn to engage with material and curriculum as an individual. Within classroom activities students could be given choices on where to complete individual work, such as on bean bags, outside the classroom in the shade, at their desks, on a carpeted area. This allows students become familiar with where they best learn. Key Importance for Teachers and Students • • Alternative study area – bed and laptop • Teachers can inform and guide students in how to effectively set up their own individual learning spaces to cater for their individual learning styles. Allowing students to choose where they complete individual work can achieve a greater sense of independence and enhance their learning Allows for students to take responsibility for their learning
  • 8. The Group Learning Space A group learning space is an area or space where several students working together – they may or may not be a cooperative or collaborative learning space as well. As the physical sets to the left show, group learning spaces can be set up by ‘group’ or gathering around sets of desks and chairs, the use of ample carpet space, or by gathering around a computer. The strengths of this type of work is that student can engage in cooperative or collaborative work if the teacher has set this up effectively, caters for the individual needs and diversity of students, groups can be ability based or missed ability depending on the activity, to ensure that all students are given the opportunity to learn (Hyde, Carpenter & Conway, 2011; Your Voice, 2010).The weaknesses are that not all students will enjoy a group learning space, if the groups are not designed right certain, students may take over the discussion and do the work for other students. As can be seen in the middle photo, students may be seated too far apart for the given group work and as a result the classroom can become to noisy, students may go off topic if not closely monitored. Curriculum & Pedagogy This type of learning space enables all students to work together, no matter their individual ability, and fosters the growth intellectually, socially and emotionally for all students involves. It allows for a range of answers to problems, not one single way of working and as such allows them to effectively ‘bounce’ ideas off each other. It can be more engaging and interactive use of curriculum than individual work, and as covered in the current Australian Curriculum, links to developing skills within the general capabilities (ACARA, 2011). However, as current research suggests, ‘group learning space’ needs to be less ‘traditional’ group work and learn more towards teacher set up, cooperative and collaborative working spaces that allow for equal contribution so no students are simply receiving a ‘free ride’ (Dumant, Istance & Benavides, 2010; Hyde, Carpenter & Conway, 2011; Slavin, 2010). Key Areas of Importance for Teachers and Students • • • • Engages and caters for the diversity of students within the classroom When set up effectively it can support students with special learning needs Allows for students to work together on difficult tasks When used with mixed ability groupings it can extend the lower achieving students if monitored closely Photos (top to bottom): Group set up within a classroom; students working in groups; reading within small groups
  • 9. Learning in the 21st Century Learning spaces in the 21st century can be predicted as heavily changing from what we view as effective learning spaces today. With the impact of a range of issues such as climate change meaning the migration and merging of cultures due to unliveable land, the move towards a sustainable future and decreasing the impact we have on society and the increase in technology, it can be clearly seen that the way learning spaces are designed now will need to drastically change. On the top left, the focus towards a collaborative classroom, where the classroom is quickly and easily adaptive to the needs of the students. No longer is there the traditional seating arrangement of rows of desks and chairs. But learning in the 21st century is more than ‘bean bag’ chairs, that does not consolidate or explain how students will be educated. Learning spaces of the future will go beyond the classroom and back to the basics of learning, where teachers from different backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities can engage and immerse students in rich learning experiences which allow for global connections. It will bring the real world into the classroom, but also allow for students to have input into the design of their learning space. Class sizes will be kept to a minimum to allow for flexibility, group cohesion and a supportive learning environment. When it comes down to the core of the learning space of the 21st century, it is all about the students, enabling them to engage, without the inflexible structures that are forced upon them. Encouraging innovation through their individual needs. Any learning space, needs to take into account its purpose – to allow for students to learn.
  • 10. References Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2011). General capabilities. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/general_capabilities.html. Black, R. (2008). Beyond the Classroom: Building New School Networks. Camberwell, Victoria: ACER Press. Cinar, I. (2010). Classroom geography: Who sits where in the traditional classroom? Journal of International Research, 3(10), 200-212. Dawson, G. (2013). Turning school gardens into outdoor classrooms. Retrieved from http://modernfarmer.com/2013/08/using-school-gardens-classrooms/. Douglas, D. & Gilfford, R. (2001). Evaluation of the physical classroom by students and professors: a lens model approach. Educational Research, 43(3), 295-309. Dumont, H. Istance, D, and Benavides, F. (2010). The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice. OECD Publishing URL. Frey N., Fisher, D. & Everlove, S. (2009). Productive group work: how to engage students, build teamwork and promote understanding. United Stated of America: ASCD Hyde, M., Carpenter, L. & Conway, R. (2011). Diversity and inclusion in Australian schools. South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. Jakes, D. (2010). What makes an effective learning space. Retrieved from http://jakes.editme.com/effectivespaces. JISC. (2006). Designing spaces for effective learning: A guide to 21st century learning space design. Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/JISClearningspaces.pdf. Johnson, J. (2009). Beyond four walls: experiential and situated learning. Teacher, 18-20. Laurillard, D. (2005). Harnessing technology to personalize the learning experience. In S. Fretias (Ed), Personalizing learning in the 21st century. London, Great Britain: Continuum International Publishing. Lorenza, L. (2009). Beyond four walls: why go beyond the bounds of school? [online]. Teacher. (198), 22-25. Slavin, R (2010). Co-operative learning: what makes group-work work? The Nature of Learning: Using research to Inspire Practice, OECD. Twining, P. (2009). Exploring the educational potential of virtual worlds – some reflections from the SPP. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(3), 496-514. Your Voice. (2010). Does 'Group Work' Work? Is It the Best Way for Children to Learn?. YouTube video. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tdt-b4yMpM&feature=youtu.be.