I have blogged before about learning spaces. Inspired by my day with Steve Collis last term. I rearranged my classroom so as to provide my students with a space which was homely. Which offered them a choice in where to sit and which attempted to create different types of learning spaces. I must admit that at times I felt stymied by the very design of my classroom, with its standard desks, mustard coloured walls (who ever thought that was a classroom colour!) and blue backed chairs. I have to admit also that my attempt to create different learning spaces was not completely successful. Some students flocked to the back of the room. Others clustered together afraid to break free and try sitting elsewhere. Their lockers became a shambles and time was wasted searching for books which had somehow walked away from the book trays. At the end of term I gave up and moved everyone back to a desk again. The students seemed relieved, glad to be made to sit with others, glad to have ownership of a desk again. I felt a sense of disappointment.

Yesterday though I was lucky enough to be able to listen to Ewan McIntosh give a lecture to a group of educators and architects. Ewan spoke on many topics but the one that resonated with me was the idea of The Seven Spaces of Technology in a School Environment. The irony of his talk was not lost on me. If an architect had listened to him before designing my classroom, maybe my attempts to change our learning space might have worked better because I would have.

  • Modular furniture that could be moved to create secret spaces, meeting spaces or group spaces
  • Flexible walls that could be dropped in and rearranged to create barriers if needed
  • Project corners where students could make a mess, dream up problems and use their passions to solve them
  • Glass walls to encourage brainstorming using sticky notes and glass markers
  • A projector beaming out of the classroom showing the world what learning is occurring inside
  • A participation space where parents could come and connect with their child’s learning
  • No one focal point, no front, no stage
  • Dark areas where students could congregate but still feel part of the action

Ewan’s message to the designers and architects was to think about these spaces when planning schools and classrooms. The message I took was to continue to think about the spaces I can create in my classroom. I may have given back my students their own desks but I will continue to seek opportunities for them to sit where they like, to work on the floor and to find their own secret spaces. I still want to create a culture of learning, of creative problem solving and one where failure is not an option because it is only through failing occasionally can we all learn.

I also know that with our emphasis on connecting and collaborating through blogging, together with our use of edmodo that we have already created our own publishing space.

Oh and I still have my ever popular bean bag corner!


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  1. Great post Henrietta! I think that Learning Space Design is massively overlooked by schools and College’s yet is one of those areas of students learning and teaching that plays such an important role. I love also hearing Stephen Heppell’s thoughts on learning space design. Check out this You Tube Link! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kemWMuaHjBs

  2. Hi Henrietta,

    This post came right on time!
    I followed #designmeet tweets yesterday and kept noting down things (well, until my PC crashed). I have been thinking about the learning spaces for a while now and was planning of redesigning the classroom completely (I admit, I am in love with design, colors and exciting learning environments)- I was planning a blog post on that, too.
    Thanks for putting all these together – will see how to make them come true.