Modern Learning Environments
By Mark Osborne
Many of the modern learning environments being built today promote and support a range of pedagogies including delivering, applying, creating, communicating and decision-making. Modern learning environments support strengths-based teaching and can offer students and teachers flexibility, openness and access to resources. Providing teachers with an open, flexible learning environment can lead to the development of a robust, continuously improving community of practice.
Modern learning environments that align better with what we know about the brain and student learning can facilitate traditional pedagogies such as direct instruction if needed, but they typically offer students and teachers much more:
- Flexibility: the ability to combine two classes into one for team-teaching, split a class into small groups and spread them over a wider area or combine different classes studying complementary learning areas.
- Openness: modern learning environments traditionally have fewer walls, more glass and often use the idea of a learning common (or hub) which is a central teaching and learning space that can be shared by several classes. They provide opportunities to observe and learn from the teaching of others and be observed in return.
- Access to resources (including technology): typically a learning common is surrounded by breakout spaces allowing a range of different activities, such as reading, group work, project space, wet areas, reflection, and presenting. There is often a mixture of wireless and wired technology offering access as and when students need it, within the flow of their learning.
Working in an open, flexible learning environment where inquiries are shared, interventions devised collaboratively and reflections based on both self and peer observations, leads to a more robust, continuously improving community of practice.