Friday, 26 November 2010

Lets ask and then support with creativity - the right way!

If it's blue carpet it must be an 'open flexible learning space'.... but....

Visiting an Academy this week -in a brand new building just handed over, several rather bland areas have been identified as being informal learning spaces to support nearby classes and provide significant space for student to study individually or in small groups in and out of lesson time. These are identified by having carpet on the floor. Providing the space does not mean students or staff will use it. (It's a pity they weren't asked before this stage really)
This Academy has absolutely the right strategy to approaching an effective design process to ensure maximum ownership and use. The approach is simple: Lets ask the students, staff and parents. Lets explore how they learn best, their ideal teaching group size and strategy, what technologies they prefer to use at home, (students AND staff), what the leading professional software is, what images /colours work best, what furniture encourages learning, then analyse the responses. Surround the process with leading creative professionals from the very first planning session to ensure the process delivers what the school community wants. Then, all working together, and starting with small pilot areas, lets deliver these spaces, reviewing and analysing all the time and being agile in responding to the findings.
Yes they could do it alone, but the danger is they may just produce more of what they have already got and use it (or not!) as they always have done. This creative support (covering digital technologies, artists, animation, learning space designers, CPD) will further challenge, join up ideas, zoning strategies, the use of colour, FF&E solutions, new technologies and provide a collaborative set of thinking to create what is wanted and what works.... As everyone will be working with students and staff at every stage, all sorts of other education will be taking place as well.
This Academy fully intends to be at the cutting edge of using professional standard interactive technologies to support effective learning wherever it can, including in these learning areas. Unlike so many schools, where the interactive feature tends to be one plasma screen planted in the dining room, the vision for how these spaces may be able to be used is just fascinating, exciting and challenging. Just how it should be really.
This project is one to really watch - it will work - the confidence, enthusiasm and determination of everyone will see to that. People WANT to be involved. I think it is the best joined up approach to ambitious collaborative planning I have seen. I am delighted to have been asked to be involved, - it IS going to be just fab!

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