In a modern school, when developed with a view to stimulate learning, the building and the environment can function effectively as the third teacher. It is the child’s relationship with the teacher, parent and environment that ignites learning. The need for open learning spaces evolved due to the changing trends in the field of education in the 21st century. Skills such as creativity, innovation & collaboration are the key skills required in the 21st century market. High emphasis has been placed on their development right from the pre-school stage itself.
A traditional classroom is a more teacher-centric way of academic delivery and adheres to a specific format. Open learning spaces have a more student-centric approach wherein the teacher functions as a guide and allows students to learn according to their individual differences. Open learning spaces foster development of creativity & innovation, motivate students to collaborate & solve problems.
According to ongoing Innovative Learning Environments & Teacher Change (ILETC research) from the University of Melbourne, deep learning & student fulfillment is most likely to occur in diversified learning activities and innovative learning spaces. This seeks to highlight the fact that a modern school should have a variety of learning spaces and open learning spaces should complement traditional classrooms.
The format of the traditional classroom defines the activity which can be conducted. In a modern school, the vision/school philosophy are the building blocks on which the activities are determined. At the same time, the teacher will also plan the environment where she will conduct the activity. Matching the appropriate activity and space is key towards understanding how learning spaces can be effectively designed and used.
A Tinkering Lab is an example of a learning space which supports practical creation of an idea. It is an ideal environment to implement the design thinking approach. From defining the problem, to ideating, creating a prototype to rigorously testing the prototype.
An Innovation & Creativity Center in a school is an area, which supports practical hands-on learning for students. In some schools, the innovation lab is a destination where students along with mentors create, solve problems and develop skills. One of the chief goals is to facilitate deeper understanding of subjects through experiential learning.
Collaborative interdisciplinary projects are planned by the technical team designated for the innovation lab along with the facilitators that combine knowledge skills, techniques and materials for both digital and product design. Activities at the innovation lab are aligned with the curriculum that can be measured with the learning objective. Concepts in the innovation lab are based on the philosophy of hands-on learning through building solutions and prototypes.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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