I have been taking an online course from edX: Leaders of Learning. It is a MOOC designed and taught by Richard Elmore of the mantra: “I used to think… and now I think” philosophy of education. It is a remarkable class having its many learners share and discuss their ideas on various modalities of learning and teaching. The class began with a Modes of Learning Assessment and four quadrants popped up identifying our inclinations for particular learning environments. The Design Challenge now is to write, draw, or photograph our vision of what an ideal school or learning environment would look like that addresses the four design parameters and five important human factors.
The four design parameters every successful learning environment must answer are: Access, Borders and Boundaries, Locations for Learning, and Transmission of Learning. The five human factors every learning environment must answer are: Physical, Cognitive, Social, Cultural, and Emotional.
4 DESIGN PARAMETERS: Access — Access to the Physical and Digital Learning Spaces. Borders & Boundaries — Their role in defining inclusion, exclusion, control, and autonomy in learning. Locations of Learning — Where knowledge is located. Transmission of Learning — How learning travels to the learner, and the intention between the learning and the space.
5 HUMAN FACTORS: Physical — How do people experience their physical interaction with things and other people? Cognitive — How do people associate meaning to things and people they interact with? Social — How do people interact? Cultural — How do people experience and develop shared norms, habits, and values? Emotional — How do people experience their feelings and thoughts interacting with things and other people?
So, what would my IDEAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT look like? People learn best when…….. given open and sequential access to physical and digital learning environments; when granted autonomy in their own learning and learn establish their own borders and boundaries in their learning; where knowledge is freely shared, questioned, and augmented in a space designed for improving and excelling learning processes; and where the transmission of learning is transparent and coherent between and along subject disciplines.
The learning portfolios would be focused on the individual learners and their growth. Teachers and Learners would occupy an open-wifi and indoor/outdoor space that houses free-flowing furniture around campfire/townhall areas and breakout private sessions for quiet and individual learning. The core of the school would be the townhall, library, cafeteria where students could freely philosophize and work together on their academics. Teachers and Learners would focus on offerings and disciplines towards a subject. Physical Education and Metacognition would be major factors in the learning environment, space and time for the Dopamine and Kinesthetic centers of the Learners to fire up the brain before more advanced learning happens.
I imagine all learners keeping a BLOG, a journal of their ecological journey along reading, writing, and engaging with the learning processes in each discipline. Blogging is a form of bearing witness to the details of our own and our community’s lives. It bridges subjects, even subjects that we may find to be null and void of comparison. The inventive mind looks for those similarities. When taken seriously, blogging serves to develop a new range of literacies, of how we impart and parcel information, and of how we as members of growing community of writers contribute to the dynamic conversation of being that is the very crux of a Liberal Arts education.
The Fishbowl would be an essential habit of mind where students can present and question ideas about the learning environment. This fishbowl would be available to all learners who wish to share their ideas about the learning environment; a roundtable discussion would be available where experienced and high-level learners can discuss ideas. The community of learning would be centered around digital and community citizenship, empathy around competition and fair play, and grit and determination toward excellence.
Finally, there would be a sign-up board for student-learners to get together over particular projects and ideas. This digital or physical sign-up board would be available to all learners for them to generate discussion around particular subjects they want to improve or understand better.