A shift in understanding…

Earlier today I was looking through my ‘camera roll’ on my smartphone and found a bunch of pictures that I had saved from a couple of months ago of what I predicted to be ‘the future learning spaces of the 21st century’. And boy have my predictions changed…

Prior to undertaking the online unit EDFD459: Learning Spaces, I understood the future of learning on a quite superficial level. I predicted that technologies would continue and continue to evolve and modernize and learning would no longer even have to take place in a typical school environment- everything would be driven by TECHNOLOGY.

In a way you could say my understandings were somewhat ignorant and oblivious to the ‘bigger picture’- our environment. I didn’t consider how our resources were not limitless and they would inevitably deplete, at the expense of our environment. I rarely thought about the endless benefits of learning THROUGH nature and working towards a sustainable future. Instead my vision was blurred by technology- children were indoors sitting on fancy futuristic furniture using fancy futuristic computers.

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I have really begun to see the future of education through a new lens. I now see children with their gumboots on getting muddy, digging and gardening, feeding animals, and learning about sustaining the earth. Yes we live in the ‘digital age’ but rather than using and abusing these resources and damaging our earth, educators can redirect learning to focus on sustainability by using (not depending on) technology as a tool to help achieve it. Technology is so powerful and can be so effective and engaging, so if used collaboratively and efficiently, I am hopeful that the ‘future of learning’ can ultimately improve our world.

I invite you all to visit my ‘page’ on Future Learning Spaces for more information on how the future of learning might look in the year 2063.

https://pstblogger03.wordpress.com/1960s-prefab-classroom-with-direct-access-to-the-yard/

Enjoy.

References:

Teachers Training International. (2013). Two Different Views Of The Classroom Of The Future? [Digital Image]. Retrieved from: http://teacherstraining.com.au/two-different-views-of-the-classroom-of-the-future/

Learning Spaces: Farmyard style

This weekend was spent visiting my cousins and their three young children out on their farm in Romsey. Growing up in the suburbs with nothing but a patch of fake grass and a swimming pool surrounded by concrete for a backyard, I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by my experience over the weekend.

Upon arrival, I was handed a pair of gumboots by the oldest child (8 year old Brigitte) and a shovel by the two youngsters (3 year old Henry and 5 year old Will). I was overwhelmed by how much they knew (and could teach me) about gardening, looking after their veggie patches, taking care of their animals (chooks, horses, cows- the lot) but mostly I was incredibly AMAZED by their creativity.

I was taken for a tour around the farm where I was shown some of the many ‘shops’, ‘doctors surgeries’, ‘caves’, and ‘secret cubbies’ that the children had imaginatively created with as little as a bush, some rocks and a few twigs and sticks. At one point, Brigitte and Will pulled me aside into their doctors surgery and measured my heart beat with their stethoscope (made from a long stick with a leaf attached to the end) and checked my temperature with their wooden thermometer. I couldn’t believe how imaginative these children were and how enthusiastic they were about nature and making use of the environment.

I asked Brigitte the eldest, how she enjoyed  school and though she said that she LOVES reading, drawing and writing stories, she also admitted that her classroom “isn’t very fun because we just have to listen to the teacher all day and she screams a lot”. Brigitte and Will were then very quick to inform me that next year they would change schools to ‘Candlebark’- a school run by John Marsden, who has adopted the Fitzroy Community School approach to education. The school is situated in dense bushland in Romsey, teachers are all on a first name basis and there is no school uniform. The school has two friendly dogs, plenty of veggie patches and chooks, and provides excursions and incursions regularly. The curriculum is implemented in a creative and innovative way that steers away from learning mathematics and English out of a text book. Instead, a typical school day may involve engaging with the outside world from gardening in the yard to excursions off-campus, talking with guest speakers, conducting experiments, and singing and dancing.

What I gathered from these children about their “really fun”, “cool” and “adventurous” future school called Candlebark, was that the “2063 classrooms with direct access to the yard” is a learning space that isn’t as far away into the future as we think….

I think I can safely say I have now been officially converted into this farmyard lifestyle. A future of educating students about sustainability, nurturing the environment and teaching students in a hands-on and engaging way that is purposeful and enjoyable, is a future that I certainly want to be part of.

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The Group Learning Space

From my research, I’ve concluded that the ‘group learning space’ (within a classroom context) can be interpreted in one of two ways.

The first, focuses only on the physical classification of a ‘group’ (2 or more people) put together with no specific structure of student accountability or goals. Students are simply set to ‘do something’ rather than LEARN something (Slavin, 2010). Yes, the task may be completed one way or another, but more times than not, the work is not shared evenly and transformative, reflective learning is often non-existent.

Conversely, the group learning space can rather be seen as a ‘cooperative/collaborative’ environment where each person in the group is accountable for a role, constant communication and collaboration is maintained and monitored, there is a common group learning goal which each member is striving to achieve and as a result students will collaborate with one another through sharing ideas, posing questions, discussing concepts etc in order to attain that learning goal (Slavin, 2010). Learning of this kind is often reflective, proactive and empowering.

References:

Slavin, R. (2010). Co-operative learning: what makes group-work work? The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, OECD Publishing.

Potential future of learning spaces?

Potential future of learning spaces?

Learning in the 21st Century

References:

Education Technology Specialists. (2013). Why Open Plan Learning Spaces? [Digital Image]. Retrieved from http://edtechs.com.au/products/why-open-plan-learning