Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Ask the Pupils

Asking primary age pupils what they would like to see in a new learning environment is always interesting.  A school I'm working with at the moment was considering how to convert an open sided barn in their playground - so they did a brain storm.  The brief was not about approaches to learning - they have already done that.

The results surprised the school governors as to how practical they were.  This always happens and I still don't really know why people get surprised.  The pupils are the people who use the place and know how to make it better.  Added to that is an enormous sense of practicality  - very few are unachievable, such as trampolining, as the pupils were quick to point out!

Lots of schools still don't ask the pupils - but doing this they miss out on lots of good ideas and suggestions. Why wouldn't they?

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

i-Pad Coffee and Colour Coded Smarties

It's the little things that count.  I like gadgets, lots of people know that. But I was really impressed to visit a 'hot-desk office recently.  It was really modern and designed for people to work in a variety of flexible ways.  I was also intrigued (and impressed) to see an i-Pad controlled coffee machine.  Choose between any number of drink options, select strength, sugar, milk press enter and out came the drink from the tap next to it.  It was fun and more importantly, really fab coffee too!

Turning round from that and there were hundreds of Smarties to choose from... but all colour coded!  Really eye catching and a focal point, but I couldn't help feel someone didn't have enough to do!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Old and New Learning Spaces

I recently spent a day in meetings in two different locations close by each other. The venues with identical functions could not have been more different.

The first venue where we were doing a presentation, was regularly used for meetings with people from all over the world.  But it just appeared so gloomy and old fashioned.... photographs of random people in frames that were too large, a wonky flip chart, clunky furniture and an interactive white board that had so much sun shining on it so the audience could not read it.

The second venue was newer, but actually the age of the space was irrelevant.  With modern, comfortable furniture, white walls and digital technology the room, which was the same size as the first room, had a totally different feel and atmosphere. It was business like and professional  - an ideal learning space.

We all now that when you have 'lived in a space' for a long time - it is easy to not see what it really looks like.  The problem is visitors do see it for how it is as soon as they enter the space.  That is the first impression and often the lasting impression.

The same applies to classrooms - we should always be looking at them with fresh eyes - despite what some people may say, the quality of learning spaces for students is important and does make a difference! All too often we walk into classrooms with piles of 'stuff' piled everywhere - they look terrible but how many people actually see it?

Instructions to use a table....

I spend a lot of time talking to people about furniture in schools.  The key words are frequently agile, ergonomic, collaborative, high quality....

I was depressed recently to see that one room I visited recently had instructions for how to use a table displayed in the room - it was quite complicated and there were several stages to the instructions.  

The fact that it was felt necessary to display these says it all really.  The fact that they look complicated is potentially enough to put off anyone from quickly being able to move furniture around within a classroom with the agility that so many schools expect.  

Schools these days want classrooms to be able to work in many ways within individual lessons.  They do not want to have to check students have read instructions as to how to move a table first.