Clare O’Shea provides a fascinating presentation and link to their report, where they have explored what it means to be a student and their relationship with their institution.
In this paper, we report on our exploration of how distance learners construct and describe their relationship with their institution, using visual and narrative methods within a group of 150 students from 35 countries studying on the fully online, distance MSc in E-Learning. Students told the tales of their own ‘arrival’ at Edinburgh at the start of their studies, an ethnographic trope which problematised academic geographies and brought together the ‘concrete’ campus and the ‘distant’ place of study. Students also provided visual and aural data in the form of digital ‘postcards’, creating a vivid sense of the land- and sound-scape of their study environment.
She explains the themes that began to emerge from the project including a sense of place and placelessness.
Sam Chaltain reports on an interesting new school that grew out of the Blue Man group that toured the world with their fascinating performances. The school has spaces which are decorated by the children including tree sculptures and a disco floor. The school also has a fascinating exploratory framework based on the personality of the Blue Man
we imagined him doing so via six different lenses:
The Group Member – the lens of collaboration, connection, and global citizenship
The Scientist – the lens of curiosity, critical thinking, experimentation and analysis
The Hero – the lens of perseverance, commitment and leadership
The Trickster – the lens of provocation, innovation, and play
The Artist – the lens of imagination, instinct and creative expression
The Innocent – the lens of emotional awareness and mindfulness
“These six lenses are mindsets or approaches children, teachers, and others in our community can assume to explore work, academic areas, an environment, and materials,” Matt shared while we watched a cluster of four-year-olds make mud in their airy, light-filled classroom. “We want to teach our kids how to surf in all of those different energies. And we want to help them develop critical life skills and practices along the way.”
Mimi Ito’s keynote in 2010 is highly relevant to the numerous conversations that are springing up around educational change. Are we in a networked age? Mimi notes that traditional boundaries of educational institutions are changing with the impact of new networked media where peer based learning occurs beyond the classroom.
Unlike their relationship to mainstream media, unlike their relationship with content and activities that adults provision for them, these smaller scale peer publics are ones that they participate in not just as consumers but as producers and distributors of content, knowledge, taste and culture. They make decisions about how to craft their profiles, what messages to write, and what kind of music, video, and artwork they want to post, link to and forward. And these choices about what media to display and circulate are conducted in a public space visible to their peers that have direct consequences to their reputation in the social circles that matter to them the most.
Diane D’Amico looks at the changes since a loss of state aid forced libraries to rethink, close or re-evolve. Whilst they still have books, the increased interest in using different technologies for searching has its challenges and opportunities
“Research is done differently now,” she said. “Everything is more electronic, using databases. But students still need guidance. They may be digital natives with technology, but they don’t always know how to search effectively or responsibly. They believe if they find it on the Internet, it must be true.”
The libraries are being used as learning and social hubs with the increased physical spaces providing opportunities for spreading out beyond the classroom. She interviews a range of different librarians who are exploring different ideas.
Stephen Underwood at the Daily Campus looks at recent work by Dr N Katherine Hayles who researches use of technology and genetic and cognitive changes that occur through use of digital media.
She said that whether knowingly or unknowingly, digital media plays a large role in students’ studying and behavior. “Students nowadays are increasingly multitasking. No longer do students go to the library to write their papers; they’re watching T.V., surfing the internet, listening to music, and viewing webpages. All of these aspects influence their research and essays.”
Tables always need to face the front. Learning an individual activity. Classrooms need to look the same each day. Learning always happen at fixed times. These are just a few of the traditional assumptions that are examined in the article Challenging Traditional Assumptions and Rethinking Learning Spaces written by Nancy Van Note Chism and published in Educause. Having looked at the barriers and opportunities to creating different learning spaces Nancy then provides some fascinating examples of intentionally created spaces and how they better reflect the learning needs of students today.
By the way what do you think about the informal seating at City Campus in East Northumbria University in the featured photograph? It shows a multipurpose area for independent study in which students can choose from a variety of settings using different seats and table tops. They can opt for different views and locations depending on their needs. The room is fully wireless enabled and the colour palette is fresh and cool, with heaps of natural light. Makes you want to go there!
John Traxler reviews the development of mobile learning, take up and engagement within communities and questions whether educators and institutions know what is best for learners and how they might learn using mobile devices, services and connectivity:
In a previous EDUCAUSE Quarterly article,1 we reported the results of quasi-experimental research on the University of Minnesota’s new, technology-enhanced learning spaces called Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs). That investigation found — after controlling for potentially confounding factors such as instructor, instructional methods, assessments, and student demographics — that teaching in an ALC contributed significantly to student learning outcomes. In addition, our findings indicated that the type of space in which a class is taught influences instructor and student behavior in ways that likely moderate the effects of space on learning. Finally, we found significant cross-sectional differences between different subsets of our student sample in terms of how they perceived the ALC’s contribution to their learning experience.
Here, we report on the next phase of learning-spaces research at the University of Minnesota (UMN), which had two components. First, to ensure that our earlier results were not simply fortuitous, we replicated the original investigation with a different instructor, student sample, and subject matter. Second, having shown that the type of learning space matters, we turned our attention to the pedagogy employed within the room. Using another quasi-experimental design, we investigated whether or not having our instructor adapt her instructional approach to fit the space would influence student learning outcomes and student perceptions of their learning experience.
Two specific research questions guided this phase of our research:
Holding the pedagogical approach constant, what is the relationship between the type of learning space and (1) student learning outcomes, (2) instructor and student behavior, and (3) student perceptions of the learning experience?
Holding the learning space constant, what is the relationship between the type of pedagogical approach and (1) student learning outcomes and (2) student perceptions of the learning experience?