#edfd459 · 6 Learning Spaces · Future of Education · Personal Learning · Reflection

The future of learning spaces: a reflection

This semester I was given the opportunity to “unpack” the notion of learning spaces – 6 of them in fact. To be honest, I wasn’t consciously aware there WERE 6 before I began the Unit “The Learning Space”. During the last 12 weeks however, I have learned much about learning spaces, their differences, their focus, their strengths and their challenges and mostly their relevance to education and lifelong learning – not just for students, but for teachers as well.

I have had the opportunity to explore so many facets of each of these learning spaces, and to change my way of thinking about what a learning space IS and IS NOT.  I have been able to identify myself and my own learning practices in each of these spaces – as a teacher in the Classroom space and Beyond the Classroom, and as a student myself this year – in my own Personal Learning Space, the e-space of my online studies at ACU, the collaborative space of my eCop in each of my 8 units, and what at times feels like the  chronic liminal space I have often found myself suspended in over the last 8 months.  I have learned that at times I may find myself fully engaged and fully actualised in these spaces, and yet at other times I have relocated to the periphery, observing , but still learning. Always learning. It has helped me to stand in the black leather bata-scouts of my future students, and shown me to always be mindful of their learning needs, their learning journeys – and to incorporate and/or provide opportunities for a range of learning spaces to make their learning experiences richer, more engaging and more relevant.

For so long if I heard the term “learning space” my mind would automatically jump to the physicality of a classroom space, but I can honestly say that my mind now has many places to jump to, and see the possibility for learning to occur, and be relevant and meaningful for the learner. The physical space of a classroom has even changed now from what I used to picture it as, as 21st Century learning opens up options and alternative visions for what a classroom design can entail. The following article is well worth a read, as it snapshots the possibilities for all educators to consider in terms of creating a physical learning space withing schools (oh how I love Finland   red-heart-vector-graphics ). If you have time, please check it out.

How classroom design can engage learners: a lesson from Finland

As I wrote at the start of this PLN, I am a former teacher, returning to the classroom, and I have had many a moment considering what the future may hold for me as an educator in the 21st century.  Although its all speculative, but based on current practices I have come across through exploring and researching theoretical underpinnings of learning spaces, I believe learning spaces of the future will probably see a shift from the traditional physical classroom spaces of the past. It’s already happening in so many schools here in Australia, as well as around the world.

I see an emphasis on Personalised learning, and e-learning (and mlearning) in particular. A culture of collaborative learning will continue to create  communities of learning, and learning spaces where individual interests and a learner’s passion sees greater scope for a  learner’s creativity, and development of problem-solving and critical thinking skills can occur in a collaborative environment.

The role of a teacher will not likely be in the mold of traditional teacher-in-front-of-class – but instead educators will be facilitators, guides, curators,collaborators – architects and tailors of learning if you will – and where ICT will be part of every learner’s, and every educator’s daily learning pathway.

Another interesting article I found talks about the future of education, from the perspective of current innovative educators, from the TED-Ed Blog. Have a read- you might agree or disagree with their thoughts. Feel free to share your views here!

Whats the future of education? Teachers respond.

I also discovered this YouTube clip about a visionary perspective of what the future of education could look like….it’s certainly highlights the possibilities!!

6 Learning Spaces · Future Learning Space · Uncategorized

When words fail

Thinking about my final piece of assessment for one of my units in my degree upgrade this semester – designing a learning space for refugee children in a current refugee facility.

I have spent many, many hours researching, reading, and watching, viewing images and videos of refugee camps, and the children who occupy them. It is hard not to feel….well- it’s hard not to feel, full stop. It has been difficult to bring into focus my thoughts and ideas for the learning space I want to develop, as I keep holding my head in my hands saying Good God, Where Do I Even START??!!

Watch Clouds over Sidra

With all the needs and priorities the people in these camps have, my task is to look at the children,  their needs and their right to receive an education, and base my development of a learning space on that – all the while being ever mindful of the trauma they have suffered, and quite possibly, continue to suffer, and their absolute need for both healing, and learning.

My focus for the Future Learning Space is on using Art Therapy for children in the Calais Jungle Refugee Camp. However, with recent news just this last week, that the facility is to be dismantled (what an awful term) in the very near future, a learning space in “no set space” is quite challenging.

My idea is to develop a safe learning space – drawing on, and utilising the principals of some of the 6 Learning Spaces I have developed knowledge and understanding of during this Unit – a space where children can explore, express and nurture their innate creativity and intrinsic empathy.

In an environment of uncertainty, despair and displacement I believe it is crucial for children to be given the opportunity to create and develop artistic expression – at a time when many of them may find that words fail to express what is going on in their minds. Evidence of  the power of Art Therapy can be see in this video by the Art Therapy Institute.

 

Providing refugee children with the necessary materials, and safe physical space for them to engage in expressing their deepest thoughts, is something I hope to explore further, and, in some way, hopefully initiate thinking, conversation and actions in other educators. This emotive, and powerful account of one Syrian man’s desire to help the kids in his refugee camp, through creative therapies demonstrates just how essential it is for children living with trauma to have opportunities for expression through art. Its confronting, yet compelling, and had me in tears, and hit by a wall of different emotions.

Saving Syria’s Refugee Children

Using Art Therapy in my Future Learning Space is just one component. Incorporating this with Teachers Without Borders, and one of their initiatives – Child-Friendly Spaces- is the crux of my FLS.  Teachers Without Borders (TWB from now on) is an international non-profit organisation, which serves to connect teachers worldwide to each other,  to information, and to enact change by providing support to communities in need of developing, and/or reinstating education.

 

Child-Friendly Spaces need to be able to be established quickly, and are there to offer support, care and protection of children in emergency settings and areas of conflict.  They are spaces that build positivity, avoid causing harm, are highly inclusive and non-discriminatory.  They are stimulating, participatory and secure and supportive. (Based on Guidelines for Child-Friendly-Spaces-in-Emergencies, retrieved from: https://www.scribd.com/document/269780134/Guidelines-for-Child-Friendly-Spaces#download

My Future Learning Space will draw upon TWB, UNESCO, World Vision, Art Therapy research and current practices, Resources including articles, videos and links, and incorporate a number or the 6 Learning Spaces I have discussed in this PLN in earlier posts.  At this point I have no idea where this journey will take me, or whether I will hit dead ends, or find cracks to slip through and find surprising new pathways.  Watch this space!