Thursday, July 3, 2014

ISTE 2014 Ignite Presentation by Jennifer Williams: Collaborative Learning Spaces

1.     Consider for a moment a noun: a naming word that is a person, place or thing.  Good morning, my name is Jennifer Williams. And I am a verb trapped in a noun’s body.  As  a teacher of English, this of course is not easy for me to say as it defies basic rules of grammar. 

2.     Now consider this : “classroom” a noun that means a room in a school where classes are taught.  I am here to tell you that I believe classrooms of today, like me, are nouns destined to become verbs. 

3.     Traditional classrooms, based on factory-style learning environments follow this standard definition.  Many nouns: room, walls, desks, books, teacher, students, conventions.

4.     It is time to jump out the box of traditional spaces that restrict innovation and to redesign spaces for maximum engagement and integration of technology. These new classrooms can become alive with action and with verbs: innovating, creating, making, and exploring.  All teaching, all learning,

5.     Students today acquire information and socialize in new and innovative ways. With immeasurable advances in technology, students are exposed to experiences with diverse cultures and are afforded complex opportunities of networked collaboration.

6.     Immersed in tools of the digital age, today’s students acquire information in fundamentally different ways. Non-linear learning of these hyperlinked students has more to do with a network than a line. It’s about experience, multitasking, and connecting many dots.

7.     With our current educational system designed for linear learning, we find ourselves following thinking patterns of past generations. Traditional stand-and-deliver, sit-and-listen pedagogies in a passive learning setting. In our industrial age designs using teacher-centered instruction, we are challenged to reflect the changing needs of today’s learners.

8.     Static layouts and furniture with limited mobility restricts interactions between students, teachers, and content.  The environment in itself can be a barrier to learning.

9.     In innovative student-centered learning spaces, everyone is part of the experience, the sharing of knowledge, and the exchange of ideas. The environment is motivating and is engaging. Within the lives of the people in a place called a classroom, this culture is fostered.

10. As teachers in these classrooms, we are educators, facilitators of learning, and designers of learning spaces.  We are eduscapers that look for opportunities to use our space as a change-agent to help students become more skillful curators of their digital worlds. We encourage individual voices and we ask why, why not, and what if? 

11. By examining the landscape of the classroom, we can design collaborative learning spaces that will support the teaching and learning of 21st century skills needed today.  With this creation of an activity-based learning environment that seamlessly connects pedagogy, technology, and the space, a new word is formed: eduscapes.

12. Today we have a responsibility to create a vibrant exploratory eduscape for our students to discover, play, learn, and create.  Change the focus from nouns to an emphasis on the verbs. Learning space design can act as a catalyst to support sustainable change in teaching and learning in FIVE SIMPLE STEPS! 

13. First, by seamlessly integrating technology into teaching and learning, students are invited to explore and are empowered to design their own learning.  With Apple TV, Google Glass, iPad, and Nearpod technologies, classrooms can be transformed into a connected learning space.

14. Second, activity-based learning designs of methodology and space allows students and teachers to collaborate in the process of learning.  Projects allow for creation, connection, and problem-solving with learning teams.

15. New pedagogies and a focus on active participation and personalization evolves the role of the teacher from distant lecturer to facilitator of learning. Students of the digital age are engaged, self-directed, and responsible for the development of their own knowledge.  This design provides for a shift in ownership of knowledge and allows for all to be teachers and all to be learners. 

16. #4 Creative learning spaces foster skills needed for a technology-infused world.  Students will need to be able to adapt quickly to change, solve complex problems swiftly with ease, and critically think not only abstractly, but creatively. 

17. Finally, in a collaborative learning space, every space is for learning.  Every seat is the best seat and students have control over how and where flexible furniture is placed.  Spaces should allow students to easily move from individual work to group work, and access to content, peers, and teachers must be available and flexible.  But, above all, the student is always at the center of learning.

18. In the words of Maya Angelo, one of the most influential voices of our time, “The horizon leans forward offering you space to place new steps of change.”  Today we have the unique and exciting opportunity to construct this space and take new steps of change. 

19. I invite you to work alongside your students and connect two seemingly unrelated pieces of a puzzle and creatively analyze the big picture.  Enjoy the experience of together connecting the many dots.  Change the noun of classroom to a verb of action.

20. And together with your students never stop questioning by asking why, why not, and what if?  Thank you and please enjoy your last day at ISTE!  Looking forward to seeing you next year!