A Re-imagined Learning Space

The Current Learning Space

In my current classroom, the desks are arranged so that they face one another with long rows along both sides of the walls and one row positioned in the middle of the room. The computer monitors are hidden inside an area at the top of the desk and when they are opened, the person directly across is blocked from view. The current lighting in the room uses old type fluorescent lighting.

The instructor’s station is located at the front corner of the room and is positioned next to a large pull-down screen and when expanded, 70% of the large whiteboard on the wall is covered leaving only 30% along the side for writing. The video projector equipment is mounted on the ceiling but when powered on, the bright light shines into the instructor’s eyes making it necessary to stand off to the corner when lecturing and presenting to the class.

Interior of the classroom.Interior of the classroom - back to front view.

Restructuring the Learning Space

Learners come into a classroom and on any given day may use chairs, desks, tablets, browse the web, use computer software, etc., all these things are part of their experience whether it’s an object or a service. In the video on Experience Design, Tedde van Gelderen describes an experience as “a holistic view of how people go through a set of events as they are in time.”

How does a learning space affect the way people learn and their overall experience? A study that was conducted during the 2011-12 academic year that included seven primary schools in England, collected performance data on 751 students. The study ranked classrooms “for 10 different design parameters: light, sound, temperature, air quality, choice, flexibility, connection, complexity, color, and texture.” (Vanhemert, 2014) The findings revealed that color, choice, complexity, flexibility, connection, and light did indeed have a significant effect on learning within the classroom.

The notion of personalized learning where each learner has unique needs and learns in different ways can also be incorporated into the space in which they learn. A learning space and experience that is more personal, promotes enhanced learning, engagement, and creativity! As Sir Ken Robinson told CBS News in an interview, “Schools need to make education more personalized. Because everyone is different, they learn in ways that need to be individually addressed.” (Svokos, 2015)

The Re-imagined Learning Space

“A lot of people are talking about communication and collaboration but their spaces aren’t speaking collaboration.” (Edutopia, 2013)

I imagined a learning space designed to be more conducive to collaborative group work, idea sharing, and more student-centered (personalized) and driven. The design takes into consideration a BYOD (bring your own device) environment along with supplied devices (tablets) with keyboards and mice that are stored within the classroom, whiteboards lining the walls, and a large monitor located in the front and along the sides of the room.

NOTE: The back wall and door are not present in my design in order to provide a better view of the interior learning space.

21C classroom design - back view

The walls are painted using neutral color tones with additional color incorporated into the classroom through the use of furniture, “yellow furniture to elicit feelings of liveliness, energy, happiness and excitement.  Red and orange in small quantities can also demand attention and attract learners’ attention to detail – a great way to lead students to a certain part of the room for an engaging activity.” (Smith Systems, n.d., para 11)

21C classroom interior - close up view

The furniture within the room will include ergonomically designed chairs on wheels for easy movement and comfort, two comfortable lounge chairs, colored chairs on wheels, round tables on wheels that seat 4-5 students, tall standing tables, small storage cabinets, and a standing instructor station on wheels. The furniture design will promote mobility throughout the classroom allowing for group work and collaboration.

Close up of side wall with furniture and cabinets.

Lighting options will include dimmable lighting and small round windows near the ceiling that will allow outside light into the room. “Lighting influences concentration, mood and interaction. Lighting controls allow the teacher and student to select lighting that suits the learning style of the moment.” (Thorn Lighting, 2009)

Necessary Resources for Implementation, Timeline, & Funding

Fortunately the building that I work in at the college will be renovated this year and the whiteboards, new furniture, monitors (fully implemented during the second stage of renovations), and new lighting are all included as part of the renovation expenses making implementing portions of this vision very feasible.  The tablets have already been purchased and are currently available for student use. The small, round windows that are part of my vision, may not be feasible depending on the room location within the building. If additional equipment is needed to implement my vision outside the scope of the renovation, it can be requested through Perkins funding available through the college. Funding requests are presented to the advisory board in the Fall and Spring of each calendar year for approval.

The timeline for the building renovation is from May – December (2016). The new building will open to the students and public at the start of the Winter 2017 semester in January. The community, faculty, and students will all benefit from the renovation and the newly designed rooms. The learners will have a more personalized, updated classroom environment that will allow for more collaboration and the use of 21st century technologies with the intention of also promoting student engagement.

References

Edutopia. (2013, March). Remake Your Class (Trailer) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXjEcnaYAmc#t=54

Smith System. Colors in the Classroom Learning Environment – Color Your World. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://smithsystem.com/resource-library/article-library/color-world/

Svokos, A. (2015, April 22). Sir Ken Robinson on What Makes An Effective School. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/22/ken-robinson-personalized-education_n_7121700.html

Thorn Lighting. Applications in Focus Light for Education. (2009, September.). Retrieved from http://www.thornlighting.com/holding/microsites/education_microsite/Main_ED_brochure.pdf

Vanhemert, K. (2014, January 18). Study Show How Classroom Design Affects Student Learning. Retrieved from http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671627/study-shows-how-classroom-design-affects-student-learning

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Final Learning Reflection – CEP810

ipad-608206_640
“Ipad, Tablet, Samsung-Smartphone” by FirmBee
CC0 Public Domain.

What is learning? How do the learning processes of experts and novices differ? Creating a WordPress blog, working with Google Docs, completing a Networked Learning Project, examining Professional Learning Networks, working with Popplet, Feedly, Flipboard, Twitter, Google bookmarks, Wunderlist, and YouTube, a 21st century lesson plan, A cooking with TPACK activity, and examining the use of Creative Commons together created a remarkable and dynamic learning experience and journey in CEP810!

The Learning with Novices and Experts” essay in Week 1 of the course set the tone for the weeks of learning to follow. My idea of learning and how different groups of individuals learn, changed during the duration of this course and I have already started to look at the courses and students that I teach in a different light. Leo Lionni’s “Fish is Fish” story  (Random House, 1974) taught me that different life experiences can help us to grow and expand our concepts and views of the world so we can look back on “change” and what we once resisted, and see it from a perspective that is more welcoming and positive.

When it comes to the use of technology in education, Dr. Mishra’s statement “a lecture is still a lecture” within the Explore, Create, Share mashup on YouTube, really hit home with me. Whether you listen to a lecture as a podcast, read it within a textbook, or watch it on YouTube, it’s still a lecture. The focus is on the content, not on the device on which it’s delivered.  The way that Dr. Mishra described TPACK as being a “total package” in his Keynote speech at the 21st Century Learning Conference in 2012, where technology, pedagogy, and content are integrated and overlap in different areas, was an eye-opening and “aha” moment for me. I never heard of TPACK before this course and after the “Cooking with TPACK” project, I get it. It’s repurposing at its finest! It’s about using technology and the tools and resources it provides, to help us learn and complete a given task in a different way, to think outside of the box, and “play” – this opens up the door to discovery.

TPACK image
Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by tpack.org. http://tpack.org

I had the opportunity in this course to examine my Professional Learning Network using Popplet. Not only was Popplet a fun tool to play with, it also visually made me realize that over 50% of my current PLN is web-based. I realized that I rely heavily on technology for getting information, education, teaching, collaborating, and communication. I don’t see this as being negative in any way; I see it as an opportunity to grow my PLN in different areas.

Current PLN created using Popplet
PLN using Popplet

I also discovered new technologies and apps to add to my repertoire and realized that certain technologies can be used to increase productivity and efficiency. For example, I now use Wunderlist daily to create and organize my to-do lists and Flipboard to keep current with what’s happening in industry and in turn, I can share that information with my students.

Cover stories. Highlights from everything you follow  To-do list, Reminders, Errands!

I really had an opportunity to look at things from a different side of view and dive deep into learning during the “Networked Learning Project” where only online resources were used to learn a new skill. I had one of greatest learning experiences during this project and was able to experience learning as my students would in an online course. This project alone has already made me modify some of the course materials in my classes. I am including more video explanations and more detailed instructions in areas where things may need further explanation.

The information regarding Creative Commons Licensing is huge! I will be implementing what I have learned into my courses where students are creating website projects where copyrighted materials may be being used. This will become a requirement for the student’s projects next semester. In the past I didn’t place much emphasis on this area but after learning what I have in this course, I realize its importance and it will be emphasized going forward in the courses that I teach. It will also make the students more aware of copyrighted materials and the licensing behind them.

Creative Commons Logo

I have been teaching web programming courses for over 13 years and working with technology on a daily basis and the knowledge that I gained in a variety of areas from this course is incredible, learning never ceases to end. I have had an absolutely awesome learning experience, which not only has taught me a lot about myself as an educator but also as a student. I looked at networking, learning, exploring, playing, communicating, and sharing from a different point of view and in so many ways it helped me discover how much more there is to learn and experience in this field. This gained knowledge has opened up so many doors and opportunities; it’s difficult to put into words how this course alone has already transformed my way of thinking and teaching.

How do I better engage students in online discussion forums? How do I get students more engaged and excited about collaborating and sharing via social media without having a grade or points assigned to it? These are few questions that I’m searching for answers to as my journey continues.

Collaborate, Create, & Share

Let’s play, create, and share in the cloud! If I would have announced that to my students at the start of class just 5 years ago, I more than likely would have experienced complete silence in the room or may have heard murmurs of “What is she talking about? This is a Web Programming class not an Astronomy class.”

While creating a 21st century lesson plan this week, I looked to Renee Hobbs’ (2011) list of “five core competencies as fundamental literacy practices: Access, Analyze, Create, Reflect, and Act” to help me develop a lesson for my Introduction to Basic Web Programming course.

I chose to use a web-based front end development code editor and playground environment in the cloud called CodePen to acclimate students to using a programming technique called pair programming. In addition to learning about pair programming and using a web-based tool to develop a simple web page, the students will share their web page in the form of a “Pen” within a Google+ virtual community created specifically for the course and then discuss and evaluate each team’s work within a virtual environment.

Google+ Logo

CodePen is a playground for the front end web.

As I created the 21st century lesson plan for this week, John Seely Brown’s statement from “The Global One Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown (Highlights from JSB’s Keynote at DML2012)” played over and over in my mind: “As we move into the 21st century, we have to completely rethink the work scape and the learning scape.”  In addition to Brown’s statement, I also decided to place emphasis on two of the five core competencies described by Hobbs (2011): Access and Act. I want my students to use CodePen for problem solving as well as self-expression (Hobbs, 2011, p. 16). The students as a team, will choose a topic of their choice and create content (self-expression) to include in the basic web page that they are developing (problem solving) using CodePen (web technology) and sharing within a Google+ virtual community (web technology). I want the students to gain the experience of using web technology  to”rethink the learning scape” as Brown (2012) spoke of in his Keynote at DML2012.

In addition, one of Hobbs’ critical questions perfectly aligns with teaching the students the concept of pair programming. Hobbs asks the question “Do they recognize how to leverage the strengths of others to accomplish a common goal?” (Hobbs, 2011, p. 19). This encompasses the whole idea of pair programming! In pair programming, each member has their own strengths that they bring to the table and as a team, they work together to “accomplish a common goal” (Hobbs, 2011, p. 19).

The utilization of multiple web technologies to perform problem-solving tasks and demonstrate self-expression while “leveraging the strengths of others to accomplish a common goal” (Hobbs, 2011, p. 19), positions the Collaborate, Create, & Share lesson nicely into the realm of 21st century learning.

References

Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.

Brown, John S. (2012). The Global One Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown (Highlights from JSB’s Keynote at DML2012) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiGabUBQEnM&feature=youtu.be