• Hyacinth Steele

Learning spaces

Given the recent emergence of Covid-19 we quickly reimagined the way we do business, socialise and learn. Enter design thinking to help solve ‘wicked problems’ in learning space design (built and digital). We need to spend the time to discover how we can inspire and create the spaces for students (whatever that word means for you) to learn.

I am one of the many who reached out to online learning courses–think MOOCs, Domestika, Skillshare and YouTube–as we all retreated into self-isolation. The face of traditional on campus education changed also. Lessons and lesson planning for homeschooling were rapidly developed as students and parents learned to navigate the Blackboard LMS landscape (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-education-global-covid19-online-digital-learning/).

As Einstein famously said of teaching: "I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn."

The design of digital learning spaces has been thrust into the limelight and many providers have realised the importance of understanding how and why we learn.

What are the conditions that we need provide?

Learning spaces are beyond classroom walls and built spaces. What are the conditions in which you learn?

Collaboration, connection, sharing

Classroom teacher Erin Klein reminds us:

“So often we know what we want, but not necessarily what the kids would like. So student voice is really important,” she said. “As a teacher, you are one person. The students are 20 to 30 people using the space. They are the ones the classroom is for.(https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/30406/to-foster-productivity-and-creativity-in-class-ditch-the-desks)."

Klein redesigned her learning spaces and noticed an improvement in the behaviour of her students. I suspect we all behave better when the space we are in is comfortable, inspiring and not just designed for one type of learning or collaboration. This is my thinly veiled dig at open plan work spaces.

Digital spaces ...

Many educators have adapted quickly to digital teaching. So … what is the brave new world of learning going to look like? Adopting design thinking methodology-discovery and empathy–will help unpack how learners, clients and customers REALLY use the sites we create? Are we ready?

“It has changed the way of teaching. It enables me to reach out to my students more efficiently and effectively through chat groups, video meetings, voting and also document sharing, especially during this pandemic.” (Dr Amjad, Professor at The University of Jordan).

Come back for my next post where I want to unpack the elephant in the room … equity, accessibility and the growing digital divide in our educationscapes.

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