Let's have a look at how the research into flexible, open learning spaces translates into action. Below are three New Zealand schools that have been developed using the latest theories on modern learning and spaces. Perhaps the most important thing to note is that the building are a container for the learning we choose to place into them; and that curriculum, pedagogy, assessment practices, relationships and culture are just as important as the spaces, if not more important.
Case study: Stonefields School, Auckland
Stonefields is made up of a series of ‘Learning Hubs’ which are large shared classroom spaces surrounded by breakout spaces that offer students a range of different learning activities: digital making, quiet and reading space etc. Because up to three teachers share a hub, the collaboration that takes place in them mean students have access to a range of teacher strengths.
Case study: Albany Senior High School
Albany’s large ‘learning commons’ host three-four concurrent classes at any one point in time. The classes are mixed in both areas of learning and year levels so there is a lot of cross-pollination. Each learning common is home to six teachers drawn from a range of different learning areas and these teachers work together as a team on each individual’s teaching as inquiry project, meaning the informal support and observations taking place every lesson are used to improve each teacher’s practice.
Case study: Hingaia Peninsula School
Hingaia’s studios are shared by up to three teachers and are composed of a central space which is surrounded by several breakout spaces which act as ‘caves’ and ‘campfires’. A student working centrally in the hub has access to private study space, digital production space (including greenscreen) and group collaboration space. Teachers are able to truly combine classes and arrange learning according to student needs and interest. They’re also able to facilitate the ‘flow’ of student learning through a range of different processes.