Learning spaces of the third kind
Next came the second kind of space - rooms where people could face in more than one direction. The action in these rooms had moved away from 'the front', because although the teacher still influenced the students' education, there was now more emphasis on participation, interaction, ... and yes, collaboration. Now students were seated around tables, facing each other. They had technology on the tables. They were able to create their own projects, learning together with the teacher acting as a facilitator. Students learnt by doing and making. The guide on the side was still within the room, but now every part of the room assumed equal significance.
The third kind of space is still emerging. It is appearing in more and more institutions every week. It is an active, immersive space where just about anything might happen. This third kind of space is no longer confined to a room. Students carry technology in their pockets, information floats through the air, and the they use their own devices to seek and capture it. There is a sense that learning can occur without the teacher being present in this same space, although the teacher may be there anyway, as a co-learner as much as a facilitator. Education is co-constructed, and the tools and technologies provide the scaffolding to support the learning. Students learn by creating, connecting, discovering and sharing.
In my institution, we will soon be embarking on a new project. I'm calling it eXSpace. One of our computing suites will be taken away, the benches removed and the desktop computers and cabling reassigned elsewhere. We want to move away from giving students the message 'this is where computing is done.' The result will be a new experimental learning space. It will be a place where anything can and might happen. All of the space will be flexible, and the walls will play a role in that flexibility. We are planning makerspaces, technology sandpits, soft play areas, gaming and robot testing zones, experimental lighting and sound systems. There will also be interactive touch surfaces on the walls, and as new technologies and tools become available, we will test them out in this space before we deploy them anywhere else. eXSPace will be a place we can try out new ideas, new pedagogies, new tools. I aim to write more about our progress with eXSpace as the project develops. (Watch this space).
Photo by Steve Wheeler
Learning spaces of the third kind by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.