One of the perks of my job is the opportunity to not only support a wide range of schools but also to see some of the awesome things that are already happening. Today I visited a school and in the process was shown around one of the most remarkable learning spaces that I have ever seen.
It would be easy to call it ‘a garden’, but it just feels like something more. Just as calling an innovative learning space a classroom sometimes misses something as it encompasses all of the most traditional notions.
With a strong focus on the environment and sustainability, the space included the following:
- Fully fledged indoor kitchen, including a pizza oven and outdoor seating
- An amphitheater built out of recycled materials, including tires
- Huge water tanks that not only supporting the plants and waterway, but also the school toilets and sporting fields
- A waterway meandering its way through the space
- A wide range of wildlife, such as ducks, lizards, sheep, fish, turtles, and chickens.
- Various plants, ranging from herbs, vegetable beds and fruit trees.
- Organic waste used as fertilizer, including compost heaps, worm farms, and an aquaponics system.
- Propagation of plants in a greenhouse.
What was most interesting to me was that the learning seemed to stem from the space, rather than dictating how the space was to be used. The space provides numerous opportunities and beginnings, whether it be lunchtime clubs, regular cooking, and gardening classes or teachers using the space in their own way to provoke learning. Whereas some learning opportunities dictate the environment, what stood out from the conversations was that learning often evolved put of the space.
This focus on the learning made me wonder about the possibility and potential of technology to further enable learning in such an environment. Some of the things that came to mind included:
- Telling the Story: I am a big believer in documentation as a means of owning the learning. I think that it would be amazing having a collective blog bringing together all the different stories and updates in one place.
- Automating Processes: I have lost count of the amount of apps that promise to teach you how to code. Yet to me there is nothing better than trying to solve a real life problem. Whether it be creating a time-lapse or collecting data with senses, I wonder about the potential of a Raspberry Pi to make this happen.
- Showing the Story: I recently stumbled upon a 360 school tour. What struck about the experience was that you could watch it again and again, each time taking in a different perspective. As I walked around the outdoor space trying to take everything in, I could see the potential of a virtual tour.
I remember a few years ago there was a push in the school I was at to investigate permaculture. Beyond getting my head around the concept, one of the challenges at the time was imagining such a space. Today I saw such a space.
What about you? What dynamic spaces have you.been a part of? How was technology incorporated? As always, comments welcome.
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