Mobile devices, whether laptops or tablets have clearly made their way into many of today’s classrooms. But what about the learning spaces? Have we just brought computer labs into classrooms, or are we making learning personalised and mobile by shifting the context and culture?
Abdul Chohan, of Essa Academy in the UK caught my attention at a recent visit to Adelaide by saying “We can’t change behaviour, but we can change beliefs” and encourages educators and innovators to focus on changes in beliefs and attitudes. He continues “When beliefs changes, then behaviour automatically changes”. Essa Academy have made significant transformations to their learning community and the learning taking place. This is profoundly logical, but while I agree that beliefs need to change first, I’m not quite convinced that behavior will automatically change. Essa Academy have embraced deliberate cultural changes to backup their beliefs. Learn more about Essa Academy’s story.
In contrast, Stephen Harris, known for the innovative work around learning space design, at Northern Beaches Christian School in New South Wales challenges educators at the SCIL “Making it Mobile” sessions to reflect on whether their beliefs align with their practice. Like many, I began to question whether students need individual “sitting spaces”, how classroom routines can empower students, where “wait time” can be reduced, and how flexible spaces can be found and created with limited budgets.
Looking purposefully at the other aspects which influence learning culture, like timetables, learning spaces, seating arrangements and even when learning begins (because the class is quiet and the teachers starts the lesson?) affect our abilities to act upon beliefs.
Why not make classrooms mobile too?“If you don’t change the spaces how will teachers change the paradigm?” asks Harris.
If the learning kit is personalised, does the need for the individual sitting space lessen? Do we need desks? As students have more tools to direct their learning (eg. Virtual Learning Environments) can they be more responsible for it?
Are we changing the learning spaces and taking the tech with us?
So what changes are we making in my school? After only a few weeks with tablets, we started to see students taking their “toolkit” (iPad mini) around the school, on excursions and home. In our “Support Centre” we brought in a moveable “standing desk” (bookcase on casters from IKEA). I find myself looking at spaces with fresh eyes and asking “what if” questions about the least used spaces in the school.
With other large projects, like this one from Immanuel College, there are changes in education on a massive scale to put these beliefs into practice. With the new Margaret Aames centre looking much more like an ultra-modern museum, public library or university hub than a traditional high school
What do you believe about learning? About the role of technology? Learning Spaces? How are your beliefs translated into your practice? I say its time to say goodbye to personal sitting spaces and use the spaces we have in new, more flexible ways.
Feel free to share your ideas here!