Active Learning Zones
Launched September 2012:
A short reflection of my first experience in the new ‘Active Learning Zones’ at Technology Campus. On arrival approximately 8.15am I thought it would be useful to check out the range of physical resources available to staff. I started in the ALZ on floor 6 experimenting with the ‘standard’ furniture. I have to say that the first thing that struck me was that most of the furniture was square! – I prefer curves 🙂
This first thing i noticed was the white board room style table which would be great for discussion based activities or scenario based learning.
I then noticed the comfy stools which would be great for supporting a small group discussion possibly sheilded by the moveable dividers.
The white board wall has massive potential however i take Aysha’s point about them not been easy to clean. A short term solution would be to provide white board cleaner? Alternatively I have had reasonable success with the ‘Idea Paint’ approach to this. Either way simply pushing the red benches towards the wall would allow individuals to kneel on them whilst mind mapping, collaborating or using as a thinking canvas.
Next up was the AV / Projector. I think this resource has massive potential however at the moment it is dominated by the teacher. We have an opportunity to shift this to a more learner centred approach where individuals and groups can benefit from a range of; online resources, live streams/feeds, breaking news etc. In addition by raising the projector screen, any projections can be annotated directly on to the whiteboard. For example annotations on or around images, websites and resources.
Other opportunities for creative learning could extend to using magnetic resources on the radiators? (maybe). Window displays? or inspiration for the City? or use of the lecturn style bookcase?
The benches and tables provide the flexibility needed for independent research or study using a range of media and technology such as the IPADs. Simply covering these tables with flip chart can turn the surface in to a learner jotter. Mobile phones and IPADS can then be used to capture any notes or references made.
I made some staff aware of the potential for using the whiteboard tables are tools to support presentations. This was fantastic to see in action and the learners loved it. In addition post-it notes are a great was to enhance learning without technology.
The walls and doors are also a great creative learning space and activities using post-it notes and paper can transform these areas in to learning spaces. Please feel free to share/post any other ideas below.
A couple of snagging issues that where raised are similar to issues raised by colleagues. Signage, labels and instructions for simply things such as turning on the AV project would resolve many issues. Secuirty concerns around tablets going missing was a staff concern. The question is how do we reduce these anxieties. I reported a WiFi network connectivity problem with some of the IPAD devices and learners were unable to use their own devices without access to the WiFi password. Some staff raised concerns on the number of groups in the space, i think 3 would be optimum in the larger zones. It must be stressed that formal lecture style delivery may not be the most appropriate method of ‘teaching and learning’ in these areas – and a shift from this appoach may help reduce noise?? Many learners had difficulty accessing SkyDrive and App usage was limited to Notepad taking which I feel we need to further enhance.