Towards a Consideration of Space

I continually see pictures of classrooms with 1:1 technology that are characterized by students sitting in some type of desks, typically the steel-framed desk that are arranged in rows.  It just doesn’t look right…

So the other day I tweeted:  Space. The forgotten element of a 1:1 initiative. #missedopportunity?

jackmallon_deskI’m wondering why the spaces that students inhabit for learning haven’t received more attention in the conversation surrounding 1:1 implementations.  Can you really have a 1:1 implementation without asking questions of what learning spaces should now become?  Can you afford to miss the potential catalyst that 1:1 computing can be for rethinking spaces?  Are you satisfied by placing that capacity into a classroom that has a decades old collection and arrangement of furniture and space?

So, another tweet:  The typical school desk limits interactions and creates boundaries for learning in ways made possible by ubiquitous technology.#thinkbigger

And that’s very true.  Steel frame desks limit movement, rearrangement, and their inability to be arranged quickly and purposefully inhibit what teachers and students can do in that space.  The energy required to rearrange and re-purpose is preventative.

I’m also interested in how schools have thought about digital learning environments that are associated with 1:1 initiatives.  In polling a recent audience of about 60 people, 1/3 had developed dedicated digital spaces for learning.  Two years ago it would have been almost no one.  My thinking here is that if you are going 1:1, you should have something for learners to connect to, some type of centering location for learning that is organizationally-based.  It does not necessarily have to be an LMS, but it should be something other than just a series of online tools cobbled together by individual teachers that creates a landscape that is inconsistent, potentially not sustainable, and a challenge for students to negotiate from teacher to teacher.

My guess is that the learning spaces in a school haven’t been part of a conversation for years.  And while there are a number of reasons for that, implementing a ubiquitous technology environment provides a perfect chance to start rethinking the relationship of space to learning.  Not having that discussion, and not employing creative ways to craft new types of locations for learning, both physical and digital, will limit the potential of new technologies, of learners, and their experience.

image courtesy of Jack Mallon, some rights reserved.



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