Friday, 30 May 2014

Breaking the mould? Learning Spaces for the Future.

The logic is that if you want to do something different, you need to change everything. Classrooms have been learning spaces which have not really changed very much over time, over a long time. The traditional rows of tables (desks) with the teacher at the front facilitates traditional teaching approaches. Many classrooms nowadays, however, are set out as clusters of tables, u-shaped spaces, and many other arrangements which allow greater collaboration amongst students - but has anything changed? Could a complete redesign of learning spaces encourage learning and teaching in very different ways?
The Brazilian Col├ęgio Mater Dei has been experimenting with space in an effort to achieve a greater use of technology in learning and teaching. The Official Google Blog states it as:
In 2013, Mater Dei deployed Google Apps for Education as part of a move to incorporate technology into the academic environment. After they started to see early results, they came to Google with a plan: create a space on campus that’s designed from the ground up to be a technology-powered learning center for K-12 students. Last week, that idea became a reality when Mater Dei launched what we’re now calling the Google Learning Space.
The photos show bean bags, foam stools and cushions and, frankly, really awkwardly sitting or lying students.
I admire freshly thought out approaches to opening up learning and teaching with technology and recognise that to do this you have to break the mould. But how would it work in practice? Is this a permanent classroom space for a group or class? Would the school have many of these spaces for students to congregate, cooperate and learn in?
What if we were starting from scratch, with the technology of the moment, what learning space would we have? Would we even bother having schools?

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