One of the final assignments for the Leaders of Learning course that I have been taking this summer was to devise and explain a design for our “ideal learning environment.” In my experience as an educator, this has never been a question put in front of me — too often, we are expected to respond or to “fit” into the existing learning environments, not to devise creations of our own. Completing this task, though, was a really thought-provoking experience because it really forced me to consider and articulate my own theory of learning (and to see the mismatch between my vision and the traditional educational paradigms.)
Below you can see the design that I submitted for my ideal learning environment.
My design attempts to leverage both the physical and digital dimensions of learning to create a learning environment that supports the distributed collective mode of learning. In the physical space, I envision having a central learning lab/student center/library that would serve as a “hub” where learners could gather together and where the digital servers and employees would be housed. The sites for learning in the physical domain could include virtually any spaces or places in the community, which would emphasize that learning can truly happen anywhere and at any time.
In the digital domain, I envision there being a website that would contain information about courses in the physical domain but also have offerings for classes that met only in cyberspace.
Hopefully, this set up would allow people to form flexible networks to support their learning and to begin to see learning as something that can truly happen at any place and at any time. One challenge to this model is ensuring that a strong culture of learning would be able to develop — that’s something that I’m going to need to think more about as I keep considering this learning design.
After completing this exercise, I am really thinking hard about what I can do within my own classroom to try to bring some of the components of my model to fruition. I am particularly interested in forging partnerships with the community this year, as it is a central part of what I think makes for effective learning and taking this course this summer has reaffirmed how important that is to me.
What would your ideal environment for learning look like?