• julia

Engaging Learning Spaces

In my classroom experiences I've actually found that the more "technology" they have in them, the more distracting and less engaging they are. In one case, the professor tried to put us into an educational technology focused space but most of the technology didn't work, was hard to figure out, and the number of screens and boards did not necessarily add much to the learning experience.

An online class that I found particularly engaging was actually in the college of education; I think it was called "Learning Society" or something along those lines. The class was organized very well, was self-paced, and included a lot of options for readings for assignments. In terms of its visual organization, the introductory pages for each section of the course were a brief narrative summary of the topic and how it affects society. At the end of each introductory page, there was an "additional resources" section that had a number of popular media readings, journal articles, and even YouTube videos (particularly TED videos).

I haven't seen somebody use a smartboard in years.

Although I understand the utility of video lectures, I personally have never enjoyed watching videos online even for things like the news. Because of this, the class that I found the most engaging had no video lectures at all and I still felt that I learned a lot because of the nature of the course.

I think the ideal elements of a learning space are situating the topics and learning; focusing on content rather than its form (i.e., a lot of screens or video lecture); and using visual aids throughout to keep people focused when text becomes too heavy.

I've never paid much thought to what spaces make me feel productive or creative. Clean and organized spaces, certainly. Maybe that's why the tech heavy classrooms never appealed to me because there was too much going on. I think simplicity is key when it comes to engaging environments, but not too much simplicity where it's just empty and cold. There is a fine balance.

© 2018 by Julia DeCook.