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Learning Space Design
Our readings and class activities for Tuesday, April 10, focus on classrooms as designed learning spaces. We have selected readings from several peer-reviewed journals that explore emerging understandings surrounding learners and learning spaces in the 21st century.
We'd like you to consider your area of professional interest to frame your engagement with this week's activities - For some that may mean university classrooms - for others secondary or middle school classrooms or even museum spaces.
Six readings have been posted to Yammer. You may choose any combination of those readings or select your own appropriate for the context of your learning space.
1. Rickes (2009) Make Way for Millennials! How Today's Students are Shaping Higher Education Space (Cole & Scott... we remember how you favor the millennial generalizations...)
2. Roman (2009) A New Classroom Design Challenge
3. Gislason (2009) Mapping School Design: A Qualitative Study of the Relations Among Facilities Design, Curriculum Delivery, and School Climate
4. Read (2010) Contemplating Design: Listening to Children's Preferences about Classroom Design
5. Hill & Epps (2010) The Impact of Physical Classroom Environment on Student Satisfaction and Student Evaluation of Teaching in the University Environment
6. Halverson (2011) Do Social Networking Technologies Have a Place in Formal Learning Environments?
Be prepared to discuss how the reading(s) informed your design. See design challenge below.
Draw, sketch, or construct a design for a dream learning space. Be as creative as you desire. Spare no expense... (regarding planning)
You will present your design on Tuesday in class. If you can, post it as an individual blog post on Monday, April 9. However, if you believe an 'unveiling' is more appropriate, an after class post is fine. Feel free to comment on posts as they go up.
In class on Tuesday, we will ask you to discuss the following as aspects of the design process when you present your ideas:
Identify what the space is used for (the context...)
How does/do learning purpose or themes influence the design?
How might varied levels of participation be considered? Varied roles (instructors/students)?
How did theory or empirical research inform your design? (class readings or other scholarly work you have consulted on your own)
Feel free to collaborate or request input from a learner or learners who may use the space.
Attempt to include at least three distinct elements (circular tables alone will not be enough...Dan will award extra credit).
How might the freedom to explore design under 'ideal' contexts prompt you to consider technology in new or unexpected ways?
Over the past several days, I have observed the aftermath from the TLT 2012 Symposium from afar. This synthesis explores the symposium through the highlights, ideas, moments, and design elements that surfaced in blog posts for our class. Roi, Dan, Phil, MJ, and Laura attended the symposium due to their affiliation (and instructor coercion - no harm intended!) with this course (albeit Phil clearly is a committed tech follower and likely would have attended... I believe a couple of the others would have been eating elsewhere... or sleeping).
Yet, for whatever reason, they gathered and shared a mutual experience. My intent is to explore their conversations formed as reflective posts for this blog. I am interested in pointing out both singular and common threads in their comments. Although not all offer interpretations of their experiences, I will dare to tread as I offer my own reactions to their writing and extend the conversation through questions or comments inspired by ideas they offer.
TLT Symposium: Design & Lasting Impressions...
The sections appearing later in this post offer comments to specific presentations. However, to begin, I offer brief comments on the design elements of the symposium that seemed to leave marks upon the bloggers for this course.
- Food, food, food, and a little drink - Make people happy and focused (on more food if nothing else).
- Online broadcasting facilitated distance attendance that accommodated peripheral participation - A key benefit as noted by our classmate who made the choice to participate at a distance due to food and comfort desires. However, additional advertising prior to the event related to the types and abundance of food may have modified his choices for the morning. Given that designers can never be certain and will likely increase overall participation, distance options benefited both participants and designers interested in expanding the audience.
- Weak or inconsistent wireless signals were observed - an ironic aspect given the purpose for the day.
- The mobile app, Guidebook, was an aid discussed by the more tech savvy member in attendance. This feature is likely to become more popular at future meetings as designers might expect participant use of mobile apps to increase. Suggestion: Add the food menu to the app to encourage broad participation from individuals with wide ranging interests.
Down to Business - Presentation Reactions & Comments
McGonigal - Keynote Address
Discussion of lifestyle benefits indicated some unanticipated ideas involving health in addition to engagement and online collaboration.
Learning through play - As a side note, this reminded me of conversations surrounding learning through play that tend to emerge in early childhood education. To what extent is gaming opening conversations about learning through play for learners in older age groups?
One blogger, Roi, questioned the relationship between increased activity and increased learning. I share this question - 'activity' in Roi's post seems consistent with the use of 'engagement' in Phil's and to an extent in MJ's - Perhaps the speaker enters dangerous territory if assumptions are made about causal relationships for learners. Certainly, not all learners engage with game play or with the same types of game play.
Community & Identity - MJ discusses these aspects in relationship to the keynote address. I offer the questions: To what extent did McGonigal address the gamers critical engagement? Did she explore the extent to which gamers demonstrate a meta-awareness of the contexts surrounding, supporting, or providing access to gaming experiences? To what extent did she discuss gamers awareness or evaluation of social, cultural, or political values and beliefs of creators or distributors of specific games? Were the relationships among gamers and larger media forces in their lives explored?
Games & Gamification
This session was discussed in multiple posts. Interested readers should scroll down and read those posts for themselves. However, I am struck by the 'voting' activity explored by one of the presenters. I interpreted this as a negative experience for Dan, and I agree. Based on the brief summaries here and my own tendency to favor collaborative learning environments, it seems that this practice reinforces competition among individuals in the class rather than the cohesion achieved through collaborative practices. In my view, the goal must be kept in mind: How do our enacted practices model particular habits of mind and particular pathways to learning? Do students collaborate to vote? Perhaps, but that collaboration is not intended to mutually benefit the group as a community of practice. Voting in a classroom with external prizes as the benefit for the 'victor' reinforces hierarchal social practices and erodes opportunities for peripheral participation and differentiated learning.
General Observations Related to Technology Use & Decision Making
As a reader, several interesting points emerged.
First, participants form expectations regarding the context when they engage in activities (see Laura's exploration of TLT as an occupied space and expectations related to ease of wifi access, electrical outlets, and presenter use of technology at a technology symposium).
Second, technology for technology sake is not always the answer. See Dan's post regarding Animated Flying Electrons - Did the use of technology really provide a new way of seeing or knowing? Or was it simply a thing to do or use? If technology does not provide new ways of knowing or learning, then questions must be asked about expending additional time and resources.
Third, sometimes in-person, 'old-school' ways of knowing surface as effective tools (see Phil's response to the massive thumb war during the keynote address).
Finally, fourth, might successes in online spaces help us to reconsider or reframe innovation related to in-person, classroom learning (see Dan's comments related to the panel discussion, Roi's comments related to cross-cultural experiences).
A disclaimer... as noted in the title, I was not able to attend the symposium. I apologize if I misrepresented the intents of the presenters or the event organizers. This is a mere commentary and extended conversation related to the class blog posts. I am inspired to eat if nothing else...
The annual Teaching and Learning with Technology symposium took place yesterday at the Penn Stater conference hotel. While the speakers and subject matter were incredibly interesting, I couldn't help but examine the space used through an "Occupy Learning" lense.
If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, the TLT Symposium must be pretty well-loved. The day started early, and the attendees broke their fast while sitting around round tables and listening to Jane McGonigal--2012's keynote speaker. She entertained the crowd with tales of educational gaming successes and ideas for the future.
Afterwards, I chose to see Michael Elavsky presentation, "Global Communication Pedagogy as Hybridized Collaborative Engagements" and Scott/Ellysa's presenation, "Digital Scholarship: How Digital Tools are Reshaping Academic Work." A small set up of eclectic snacks (including real slushy machine) was set up in the same hallway as the breakout sessions. Inside each room, audience members sat at long rows of tables with comfortable leather chairs. Unfortunately, the weak wireless signal and lack of available power outlets led to some grumbling. I also found it interesting that Scott/Ellysa led a pen-and-paper based activity to describe areas of digital scholarship.
The afternoon brought even more food and sessions, but my brain started to wander as the day wore on. While I now wish that I had checked out the School of Nursing's station and the rumored relaxation area, at the time I was content to continue on the path of least resistance. Leaving the building, I slipped on the limestone hallway made slick by the day's rain.
Impact on Learning and Teaching
This is the first time my stomach has felt satisfied at a conference--which actually speaks a great deal to the availability of funding for this subject area versus Art Education. Having caffeine (and snacks) readily available kept attendees in the conference area and mitigated the need for outside breaks.
However, the round tables in which we ate breakfast did not allow easy visual access to the keynote speaker. If only the room was set up like the Innovation Studio! Having just one other screen on the opposite wall projecting her image would have saved me a neck ache.
It also seems strange that a conference dedicated to technology did not have a strong wireless backbone nor easy access to power. Scott/Ellysa's use of a paper activity may have been a blessing in disguise. If the medium had matched the message (perhaps an online poll or other note system that aggregated everyone's responses) a lack of reliable internet could have disrupted the flow.
As for my slip on the limestone floor? Just another example of my clumsiness. Although...perhaps someone should check out alternative materials or rain coverings before Penn State gets sued.
These are the images you created around the key theorist we have been working with this semester. We will revisit them in class tomorrow, and begin to think about them in terms of their relationship to learning spaces.
Eight sixth grade teachers were asked to comment on how their classroom community has changed (or been disrupted) in recent years as a result of new opportunities to use technology in their classrooms. You will hear a central theme of how google docs have transformed how they teach. Listen carefully to the discussion about the advantages these tools have provided as well as (a few) disadvantages that they have had to address. In general, classrooms have become more fluid, allowing for more collaboration on a daily basis. Additionally, the flexibility of working both inside and outside the classroom/school allows for more innovative ways for students to interact with new content as well as being able to work on projects anytime, anywhere. And of course, we have connected their thoughts to the Wenger reading for this week.
Our given challenge for the week is to yet again hitch up the wagons and recursively circle Community, Identity, and Design. The 'design' of this course overtly prompts us as participants to continually return and reassess our understandings of these three themes through habits of mind, modes of participation, and social practices and processes that revisit our core themes within the contexts of learning and teaching. Recursive practice is a repetition of a procedure. Our readings and blog posts recursively draw us into readings and writings surrounding the three core themes, yet although we repeat the procedure, our encounters are not returns to static points but new encounters with something known before but now seen in a new light, through a new lens. Our journeys as individuals, as teams, and as a larger class tint our 'looking glass' in particular ways. Indeed our lenses are likely 'tinted' in ways that differ from classes, individuals, and teams before us because of our community and individual identities, our shared repertoires.
Google Doc as Our Learning Map
Nearly two-thirds of the way through the course, the metaphor of the journey seems appropriate for the ways we may consider our synthesis post at this point. Surely, journey has taken on literal meaning for us as we venture out to 'occupy' learning in various spaces across campus. Journeys connote movement along paths and may include discovery and perhaps new understandings. Adopting the journey metaphor as the lens through which we consider this week's post, we look back reflexively at the path behind us. Reflexivity permits us to consider how our own individual processes of coming to know and consider the core themes formed along the journey. Our mode of participation for reading discussion has been writing via the Google Doc established at the start of the semester. Although our team has utilized other modes (Skype & Google Hangout discussions and in-person meetings) and other media (email & Flikr), our written work in the Google Doc reflects our immediate, and necessarily "rough", reactions to the readings and our encounters with learning in classroom spaces. Consequently, we chose to look back at the path we charted in our collective Google Doc as the material trail with which to analyze and our journey.
Visualizing Perceptions with Many Eyes
Our in-class discussion of IBM's online visualization tool Many Eyes revealed a potential path to blend our team's interest in visuals along with our reflections on the course readings. Visuals are used in many ways in the research community and in learning contexts. More traditional conceptions of visuals are used as illustrations for topics discussed in the written portion of the text. However, visuals can also provide new perspectives, new ways of looking and of learning. In our case, our looking through the glass of Many Eyes provided a sort of evolution of synthesis from illustration to new, previously unknown or unseen perspectives on our own work.
Many Eyes offers a range of visual representations for data, both numeric and written text. Our interest in using a word-based document limited our options to Word Tree, Tag Cloud, Phrase Net, and Word Cloud Generator. Word Tree and Phrase Net appear to be the best options for visualizing relationships along our journey. Word Tree functions upon the principle that the researcher must specify the coordinating or primary focus for the tree with the selection of core words. The natural choices appeared to be our themes for the post. The first tree "Community of Practice" is displayed below; however, this visualization appears to merely function in the traditional sense, restating or illustrating text. No clear 'new ways of seeing' were gained.
A similar restatement of text was found when the Word Tree was used for identity and design. Again, neither visualization appeared to 'say' anything new. However, when the medium was changed, the meaning became visible rather than simply text. Uploading our Google Doc to Many Eyes and using the Phrase Net analysis tool channeled our writing into an analysis path that looked for relationships or themes that surfaced in our writing. In other words, rather than specifying search criteria prior to creating the visualization as an illustration of text, Phrase Net facilitated our discovery of ideas that were important to us in our recursive practice of examining the themes through written discussion.
Please select the link above to view the full image of the relationships that Phrase Net revealed.
Note that relative importance is depicted through larger font size and relationships among topics or concepts are indicated with arrows of varying density corresponding to the emphasis we gave those concepts in our written discussion.
Adopting a reflexive lens, we discovered that Phrase Net not only created a visualization of our document but also permitted us to look through the surface-level glass of our course themes to see the substance of our discussions - the entanglement of ideas, priorities, and journeys. This new lens helped us come to know and understand our own learning (embodied in our Google Doc) and the themes of community, identity and design not as destinations but as vehicles that have brought us through journeys that emphasize learning as social, distributed, and situated as we consider readings (primarily Wenger as a pivotal influence), spaces, and identities.
Layered Visual Understandings
The image can be read in many ways that help us consider major and minor threads. Following what appear to be minor threads in the visualization, for example, reveals converging pathways to larger meanings. The 'blog' connects to 'post' via a slightly larger thread and follows through to 'shared' 'language' 'making' 'meaning' in a parallel construction with the 'post' connecting to 'shared' 'technology'. These threads convene through 'design', 'social', and 'learning'. 'Learning' looms as a larger surface formed through the contributing threads of 'social' and 'design', and in turn feeds 'community', 'space', 'contexts', 'identities', and our occupy learning destinations.
There is an inherent value in exploring our work reflexively through the Phrase Net visualization as it brings the essence of our interests as a community of practice to the visible surface. Synthesis as recursive practice in this course then serves as a check-point to not only explore the course themes but to also reflexively consider our own positions an identities as collaborating peers in terms of the purpose for our practice, our mutual engagement, and our shared repertoire. Our visualization emphasizes our inherent interests to continually address learning as social and community centered. Although overtly examining community, identity, and design on a weekly basis, the strength of our journey is learner centered and social in nature - just where we'd like it to be.
Intellectual: study, reflection, speculation, creative use of intellect
Mash-up: combination or mixing content [mash-uhp]
Artist: creative juxtaposition, appropriation, and re-contextualization
Also, Stayin' Low.
From the Cluetrain Manifesto's 95 Theses
Community: (95) We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.
Communities are constantly forming and connecting ideas. They are not standing still, or waiting for someone to tell them what to do; they are making a difference. Occupy Learning is attempting to link to other communities that may have the same concerns as we do. We're moving forward as a community to try to connect with these other communities by posting an assignment and watching for others to join us.
Identity: (16) Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog-and-pony show, are no longer speaking to anyone.
Authenticity and identity are inextricably connected. We can recognize "phoniness" and do not care to be part of its perpetuation.
Design: (85) Your product broke. Why? We'd like to ask the guy who made it. Your corporate strategy makes no sense. We'd like to have a chat with your CEO. What do you mean she's not in?
This thesis speaks to the gap between who decides design (the CEO) and who the design is for. Tied to our discussion about Occupy Learning today, we need to begin considering the voices of those who the design is for (of spaces, of products, of tools) instead of only the voices of those in power. When those who use the design want to their voice to be heard, often the decision-makers are not present, don't want input, and resist change because it's not their idea. This strikes me as true but backwards.
Theses of note:
95: We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.
93: We are both inside companies and outside them. The boundaries that separate our conversations look like the Berlin wall today, but they are just an annoyance. We know they are coming down. We are going to work from both sides to take them down.
Community driven networks break down barriers. Education has been about constructivism; the community of learners breaks down the balance of power as we integrate collaborative learning and Web 2.0.
25: Companies need to come down from their ivory towers and talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships.
The university administration needs to reach out to people using classroom spaces on a daily basis to gather input about learning in particular spaces. Setting up a university Facebook account is not enough to weave student and professor learning experiences into planning learning spaces.
39: The community of discourse is the market.
40: Companies that do not belong to a community of discourse will die.
We envison "companies" as formal organizations. The reason the Internet works is because it distributes human thought among communities The Internet enables human voices to be heard and directed to construct communities in ways that are individually driven rather than being formally directed.
Hi Internet! The students of CI598 in Spring 2012 would like to give you an assignment. We will be asking you to attend various learning spaces on your campus to better understand the affordances of these spaces related to teaching and learning. We are calling this movement "Occupy Learning."
Over time we will collect from you, Internet, small reports on spaces on your campuses. The goal is to produce artifacts that contain text, digital images, audio, and video into blog posts all across the Internet. Here are two examples:
Your contribution to this project can follow the criteria below, but feel free to be creative as you work towards your own Occupy Learning artifact.
- Title: University Name, Name of Building, and Room Number
- Top Summary: Select the 3-5 most important constraints and affordances about the teaching and learning space to highlight.
- Background/History/Location: Including, but not limited to, providing detail about the building in which the learning space is found (location on campus and history of construction or renovation). Provide detail concerning how the learning space is primarily used (ex science lecture hall).
- Physical Layout: The overall landscape of the room, including the furniture and fixtures.
- Impact on Learning and Teaching
- Classroom Ambiance: Environmental and intangible elements such as temperature, light, air quality, noise, smells, etc.
- Impact on Learning and Teaching
- User Experience: Describe affordances (opportunities & challenges) for teaching and learning activities and interactions; when possible incorporate comments related to actual scenarios from students, professors, and observers.
- Impact on Learning and Teaching
- Technology: The space includes a wifi network to accommodate mobile devices and/or offers computing devices such as desktop computers or laptops.
- Impact on Learning and Teaching
- Unexpected Phenomena: What about the physical layout of the room or activities within the space that surprised you?
- Improvement Ideas: Share thoughts on how your team might improve the design given the realities of the space.
Tag posts with #occupylearning
When tweeting send to @occupylearning
Spicy Nodes is a concept mapping tool that can be used in many different ways. The home site offers suggestions for educators interested in using it as an instructional tool. Basic membership is free. The tool showcases relationships among details of a concept, requiring the user to work with an "economy" of words to communicate the essence of an idea. These nuggets of information take the reader on a synergistic journey, exploring connections among key ideas.
For this week's blog post around Identity, Team Tiger looked for those nuggets of information nestled in the text that spoke to each of us about identity. We chose several to reflect upon and have shared those with you in this Spicy Node presentation. We hope that it creates a storyline for you about identity, which may, or may not, leave you with the same message that was intended by the Tigers. After all, we each process text in our own way based on all of our life experiences that have influenced our identities.
For the best view, begin by choosing "full screen" (2nd icon from the left) and, because it is a large presentation, it might be best to adjust the "overall zoom level" to 1-2 bars (the small round magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the screen). Then choose the arrow pointing right to begin the show. Be sure to give the Spicy Nodes time to load. Enjoy! TT
Note: If one node is covering the text of another node that you are attempting to read, simply run your mouse over the node (don't click on it) and the node will be moved to the front for easy reading.
Photos credits: discoveringidentity.com, nevegabem.com, blog.virtuallogistics.ca, crayon2paperier.deviantart.com, colourbox,com, iscb.org.