Friday, 12 June 2009

Learning Spaces (more of)

I spent time this week visiting the newly created 'Real Centre' at RM's headquarters in Abingdon. The 'Real Centre' is really a large area dedicated to displaying examples of what a variety of future learning spaces may look like. These include a 'Da-Vinci' studio, open learning areas, a sensory area, a creative area, complete with green screen technology and more.

The learning areas, obviously fully IT resourced, are a great awareness raising and teaching facility for students, teachers, local authorities and developers of new learning environments.

One feature that I remain impressed by (not the dog seats pictured below, although they are fun), is the enclosed collaborative space in the photo above. Fully powered (including data) there are so many potential uses for these spaces in school, in learning resource areas, open learning areas, social spaces....

I spoke to students, the real clients, who were using such a space earlier this year. In that case they were using this facility in a large learning area with other students and adults around. They were using the quiet environment to record interviews with other students. These then were to be uploaded to create instant pod casts which could be loaded onto the school Virtual Learning Environment. The real transparency allows masses of passive supervision by staff, and there is also a small whiteboard area inside to explore ideas in a more traditional way.

All those students, without fail, wished that they had more of these in their schools. They noted that it allowed them to work in just one of the ways that they were comfortable with, amongst a wide range of approaches. Students really are so much more aware of their preferred learning strategies then many give them credit for!

The 'Real Centre' is already being visited by masses of visitors - I'm not surprised really.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is 'passive supervision'?

Gareth Long said...

Passive supervision is the term commonly used for areas where students can be observed without staff having to make any special efforts. This is normally achieved through plenty of glass.

Therefore students using these study cubicles can be easily monitored as there is so much glass. Many offices in new schools now have windows onto corridors or student social spaces, balconies or internal stairs are visible from all over the place and in some schools the student toilets have the 'fourth wall' missing so anyone on duty can see into them without a closed door. Therefore toilets at ends of long corridors, hidden stairwells and little corners are being designed out of new schools.

These strategies have been shown to help students feel better about being in school and significantly reduce unacceptable behaviour.

I may do a post about this in the near future - you are not the first to ask this question.

Thanks for the question.
G

Anonymous said...

Passive supervision? Will teachers get a dinnertime? Or will that be directed time , the same way that breaktime is? Not comfortable with this.

Gareth Long said...

This does not alter teachers conditions of service - it just allows staff to keep a greater eye on things in their area with less effort.

When duty is involved they are also able to keep watch over the same size area with less effort.

Mainly though, because students know they can often be seen from mutiple directions the standard of behaviour usually improves.

Anonymous said...

So in a teacher's 30 minute break between 12 and 2pm, they can ignore any problems occuring on the other side of that glass wall?

Gareth Long said...

Patently and very obviously not!

G

Gareth Long said...

This is the end of this thread.

G