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Physical Space in a Blended Learning Environment

Physical Space in a Blended Learning Environment


This lesson provides the students with the ability to conduct an environmental scan of the physical space and classroom configuration within the teaching environment for a blended learning approach

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Source: Desk, Pixabay, http://bit.ly/1JsNdzb; Café, Morguefile, http://mrg.bz/vsizeG; Stick Figure, Clker, http://bit.ly/1JoIB83; Globe, Clker, http://bit.ly/1CVSonk

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Hello, everyone. This lesson is called Physical Space in a Blended Learning Environment. The goal of this lesson is to help you conduct an environmental scan of the physical space in configuration of your classroom. So let's get started.

I consider myself a constant learner. What that means to me is that I value the time I spend reflecting on my professional practice, then I do something with that information in order to improve. I also enjoy attending workshops and taking courses as well.

As a student growing up, like many others, my learning environment was a tiny desk in a school and a kitchen table at home. As an adult learner, I now have the ability to choose and create my own learning space, and for me, it's a coffee shop.

Of course, this is not original idea or unique to me. However, I share this to illustrate the point that as learners we do our best work when we are comfortable. I'm OK with the movement in a coffee shop and the music playing in the background. In fact, it comforts me. The point is that learners need to find out what works for them, and teachers need to help create those environments for them.

Let's look at some of the work done at the Charles Sturt University in Australia in the area of learning spaces. The objective here is to help you create a floor plan that maximizes the learning goals and matches the objectives to your classroom. There are some considerations to keep in mind. And they all have to do with the four C's of learning in the 21st century. For example, how does the design impact collaboration? How does the design impact communication, creativity, and critical thinking?

I'm going to share with you some photographs of different learning spaces. I will point out certain areas of these rooms and the purposes for each of them. Let's take a look.

I believe that aesthetics are important, but a learning space should do more than just look good. Here are some examples of learning spaces taken from the University of Edinburgh. I will point out some of the features that might make these optimal learning conditions, but, please, don't get hung up on the fact that your school probably can't afford the fancy equipment and furniture. It's about how to create an environment that can promote the four C's in learning in the 21st century.

Let's start with the picture on the left. Notice, there's a privacy divider to separate it from other learning spaces in the larger room. There are cushioned seats with no back, space for a small group, monitor with a portable keyboard, and whiteboards on the wall as well.

Photograph two is a space for both smaller and larger groups. The projector can be seen from anywhere in the room. Notice the windows and the natural light coming in. There's multiple whiteboards for students to record their thinking. And there are also speakers, so that everyone in the room can hear.

In the photograph on the left, you'll notice that there are outlets to charge devices in the table. Chairs allow for movement, they have wheels on them. The table design allows for smaller- and larger-group discussions. The final picture on the right is a common area for discussion, but it does contain whiteboards around the room, seats that can be easily moved to customize the space.

Now that you've seen those photographs and are probably extremely envious, take stock of what you have to work with in your classroom. That's the reality you are working with. So how can you improve it?

You can start by asking yourself these questions-- where are the learning spaces within my room? Do my students have the opportunity to create their own learning space? In what ways do my students interact?

Is the space conducive to blended learning? How to the students know what the spaces are for? And have I posted the expected routines for the space?

It's time to summarize what we did in this lesson. We began by looking at the four C's and their connection to learning spaces. We looked at some photographs of samples and pointed out some features of those learning spaces. And finally, we reflected on your own classroom and what questions you would ask to optimize your learning space.

Here's some food for thought-- what changes can you make to your learning environment that will help you to better address the four C's? Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video.

The Additional Resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description, so you can easily target the resources that you want. Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Physical Space in a Blended Learning Environment"

(00:00-00:14) Intro

(00:15-01:07) My Learning Space

(01:08-01:49) Learning Space and The 4 C’s

(01:50-03:19) Sample Learning Spaces

(03:20-03:58) Creating a Learning Space

(03:59-04:21) Summary

(04:22-04:58) Food for Thought

Additional Resources

Setting up blended learning environments in the classroom

This resource from Charles Sturt University helps educators consider how to design the educational space for blended learning. Included in the site are videos and resources to guide planning for a 21st century learning environment.

Case Study from the University of Edinburgh

How can learning spaces be developed to echo the constructivist learning paradigm? This case study walks through the redesign of learning spaces (including images from those spaces), and demonstrates how teaching and learning changed as a result to fit a more constructivist paradigm.

Scholastic Website

The class setup tool is a free tool that allows teachers to design their classroom by moving virtual models. Basically, this tool enables teachers to consider the impact on their learning spaces virtually before committing to a particular structure.