Future Learning Spaces

It’s 2063 and the mining boom in WA is on its last legs. School communities have been temporary as mining companies moved their employees to more and more remote locations in the search for remaining resources. The National Broadband scheme is in place. Extended families live in far flung corners of the state. Your brief is to design a learning environment for these families that creates a sense of community that is currently missing.

First of all, I think after researching future learning spaces, it is safe to assume that it will not only be mining communities that will have to contend with a feeling of displacement. Many of the predictions for future learning spaces include a confinement to our homes, flexible learning spaces which connect via social media and virtual classrooms. So, how do we create a sense of community through this learning space?

After viewing some virtual schools, I started to envisage what I value in the brick and mortar schools of today. It’s a challenge to not only predict what technology will be available in the future but to also move away from 20th Century thinking about learning when devising key elements for virtual spaces. Here is a list of the components I would like to include in a virtual school:

*Keep classes to a manageable size (about 20) as online learning can open up possibilities to high numbers, creating a sense of community and getting to know individuals would be best catered for in smaller groups. In saying that many lessons could be cross age groups to allow for differentiations in terms of individual’s strengths with Key Learning Areas.

*Address holistic approach to learning. Physical development (something like Wii Sport where students could compete in individual, team, competition, sport and fitness). Emotional development (specific lessons and scenarios to enhance resilience, coping with change and life skills). Psychological development (learning about themselves and relationships in a health promoting environment). Intellectual development ( provide creative thinking and problem solving opportunities). Social development (chat rooms and meeting places to promote collaboration and connectedness). Spiritual development (provide places of worship and rituals of prayer and meditation).

*Virtual classrooms: either in age groups or subject area.

*Virtual library: access to e-books, videos, games etc

* Virtual staffroom: blogs set up for teachers to discuss current aspects of school life.

*Virtual office: to handle administration, enrolments etc.

*Flexible timetables. Some compulsory video chats to promote sense of community, then blogs that students can communicate learning intentions with fellow classmates/ teachers etc.

*Parents page: blogs set up to encourage parental involvement. Links to professionals/ community services/ help desk.

I envisage a 3D virtual school that promotes interaction and motivation to learning.

While looking for pictures to enhance my presentation I came across this pyramid and was reminded that we are trying to promote a community of practice and as this apex shows an achievable goal in terms of community responsibility. I believe the virtual school could have all of these components with careful consideration to the Web services available and specific classroom/lesson creations.

Finally, I leave you with this picture, which I’m sure, by 2063 all of these newer components  will be considered “vintage” but I guess my point being no matter what they are replaced by the value we put into their original intention will still be part of our lives. For instance, the need to communicate with family and friends will still be there whether we do it through a telephone, Skype or their future equivalent.

 (Retrieved from http://31.media.tumblr.com/dd172b08fa71bc8f6396a8542d67bf55/tumblr_mt2pcncFUw1qbf7hlo1_400.jpg, 2013)

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