DISCUSSION: Modern Learning Environments


Our understanding of learning has increased dramatically in the last 20 years. New technologies, such as MRI scanning, have allowed us to see inside the brain so that we have better ideas about effective and efficient teaching and learning techniques.

We know that quality learning is a combination of:

* personalised learning

* socially constructed learning

* differentiated learning

* student-initiated learning

* authentic learning

However, most of our schools were built during a time when direct learning was considered the only effective pedagogy. So whilst our understanding of other efficient pedagogies is developing, our classrooms have remained the same – setup for “factory-style learning”.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/80179021″>Considering modern learning environments</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/edtalksnz”>EDtalks</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Modern learning environments can offer students and teachers more, and are more aligned with our developing understanding of effective teaching and learning.

Breakout-spaces-offer-flexibility CORE ED

Modern learning environments offer more:

* flexibility

* openness

* access to resources (including teacher strengths)

* collaborative teaching and learning processes

* support

Astronaut School.

Today’s learning environments

New designs for teaching are being planned to promote and support a huge range of teaching pedagogies. Many designs have chosen to centre the environments around a ‘home base’ which is where teaching and learning can occur but it also gives access to other learning spaces. As not all classes will need access to all the spaces at the same time, lots of designs are also planning for shared spaces between classes and a ‘hub’ that links the classes to the alternative learning spaces/home bases. These spaces can also allow for children in other classes to have access to other teachers who may have specialist knowledge for particular projects or line inquiries.

Some of the breakout spaces might be specifically designed for:

* group work

* digital production

* project work

* reflection spaces

* reading spaces

* quiet spaces


But modern learning spaces aren’t just about “break out” rooms, but also includes understanding and making effective choices for lights, ventilation and acoustics etc. Modern learning environments are also about realising the need to renovate and put money into creating well-planned and comfortable learning environments.

Some reflective questions to consider:

●  What is your school’s vision for teaching and learning? Does everyone share this vision? How do you know? Which aspects of your school culture would you like to improve? How would you measure the improvement?

●  What are the key pedagogies required by teachers in the 21st century? Are these the ones in use in your school most days? What systems and processes are in place to help teachers reflect on their own practice and learn from each other?

●  If you were to build a new learning space that reflected your school’s vision and commitment to learning, what would it look like? What would students need to have access to over the course of a day? What activities would they engage in over the course of a day? What technology would be required to support this?

●  If curriculum, pedagogy and learning environments are helping to make learning more personalised, what other elements of the schooling ecosystem need to change? Who is a ‘teacher’ and who is a ‘learner’?


Are modern learning environments better for everyone?

What does the research say??

What kind of training will teachers need?

Whoa, before we back plans to spend millions on changing and creating new buildings, let’s read the research and find out whether it is effective or just a fad.

** Summary of recent research coming up **




Bloom, Benjamin S. “An introduction to mastery learning theory.” Schools, society and mastery

learning (1974): 3-14.

Hattie, John. Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s