JOL>Learning space workshop


Conversation Description: There are five axioms that form the foundation of the Educon experience. The axioms focus on the characteristics of school, of the role of technology and what learning can become. They provide a framework for informing what we can and should do as educators.

When we discuss pedagogy, when we discuss the skills that we wish to see develop in students, when we discuss the role of technology, and when we discuss learning in general, it is of critical importance that we also discuss the role that learning space has in supporting what we do. Excellent practice, high-quality learning, and successful institutions all require a place for the interactions of teaching and learning . Yet, the concept of learning space is rarely discussed among educators as a "one-size- fits- all" classroom is the accepted expectation and reality in today's schools.

As we critically examine educational practice this weekend, it is imperative that we also carefully reconsider the importance of where learning occurs.

This conversation seeks to do just that.

Conversational Practice:
In this session, our conversation will be based on developing the perspectives that move participants from a classroom-based model of teaching and learning to one that is rooted in the concept of a learning space. Our conversations will help participants clarify their expectations for a learning space, and how such a space can support an expanded and relevant educational experience for students.

During this session, I hope the collaborative conversation will challenge you to:

Critically examine your perceptions and biases about what a classroom is.

Extend your understanding of where learning can take place by encouraging you to reflect on the dimensions of time, space, place, and device, and their association with learning, and with the development of a larger environment for learning, here identified as a learning space.

Examine how interactions occur between physical and digital learning spaces, and the affordances of such interactions.

Evaluate how adding new dimensions to a learning space can alter the practice of all inhabitants, and in the process, encourage the development of a learning community. 

Reflect upon how the spaces we design inform (either unintentionally and intentionally, or both) our learners of the type of learning that is to take place there.  In other words, consider how design informs the intent.

Frame how literacy (our overall goal?) is supported by skill development, and how space, both physical and digital, can be created to support that endeavor.


What kinds of skills should kids be able to exhibit, in the context of 2009?  That's a very real question for teachers, and more importantly, schools.  The development of those skills take place in spaces called classrooms.  So, can our current iteration of the typical classroom support the development of literacy skills?  What is your current perspective of those classrooms, and how can you extend and expand that perspective into a vision of a learning space, with its own unique characteristics and affordances?  How can the characteristics of such a space, a learning space, contribute to the attainment of those skills?  What does it look like, and what are your next steps?

Let's Get Started...

Why are you here?

Available Resources

Conversation 1:  Literacy, and the skills students need to develop to be well-educated in the 21st Century.

Form follows function. It seems obvious but is often forgotten:  Teaching and learning should shape the building, not vice versa. | The Third Teacher

 Do you "see the Internet not as a technology but rather as a context in which to read, write, and communicate? | Leu et. al. 2009

"Being literate in a real-world sense means being able to read and write using the media forms of the day, whatever they may be" | Jason Ohler 2009

"The ability for multimodal fluency success lies in the philosophical and learning theories of the past and in the emerging skills, abilities, and proficiencies of the technological present" | Sean Cordes 2009

Define literacy.

Defining a new skill set that supports a shifting notion of literacy 

What five cores skills would you identify as key components that contribute to the development of literacy? | Shared with the large group

Conversation 2:  Characterize a typical classroom found in a school | Done individually then shared

"Spaces are themselves agents for change. Changed spaces will change practice." | Oblinger 2006


Presentation 1: Would you like to learn here? | Presentation and discussion

Conversation 3:  Characterize a learning space. | Done collaboratively and shared

  • Learning Space Characterization
  • What does this characterization say about the learning that is about to take place?  How will the space set the expectation(s)?


Conversation 4:  What makes a space effective?


Visioning Activity:  Visioning:  OK, so what does it look like?  Given the skills you identified earlier, envision a learning space that can support students in the attainment of those skills?  This is your takeaway, and should be done in the context of your role in what you do in education.  Does your learning space include these components?

  • Physical space
  • Digital space
  • Spaces for teachers
  • Spaces for students
  • Spaces for everybody else
  • The interaction between the two
  • Formal learning
  • Informal Learning
  • Asynchronous opportunities for learning
  • Synchronous learning
  • The flow of conversation, ideas, and expertise in
  • The flow of conversation, ideas, and expertise out
  • The development of skills in traditional and digital contexts

PowerPoint of Learning Space Model

Etherpad Discussion | Etherpad Discussion

Conversation 6:  What are your next steps?


A Collection of Perspectives on 21st Century Learning | David Jakes

The factors of organizational readiness | David Jakes

Beyond the Web 2.0 Hype:  Focusing on What Really Matters

My literacy resources at | David Jakes

My learning spaces at | David Jakes


Resources:  Learning Spaces

Educating the Net Generation | see Chapter 12 on Learning Spaces

Learning Spaces | See all 43 Chapters | Educause

Designing Spaces for Effective Learning: A Guide to 21st Century Space Design | JISC

Leading the Transition from Classroom to Learning Space | NLII White Paper

Schools Designed for Learning | American Architectural Foundation

Importance of Informal Spaces for Learning, Collaboration, and Socialization |Hajduk and Gee

The Great Learning Street Debate | Nair

Spaces, Places and Future Learning | A collection of papers and presentations from FutureLab

Flexible Space & Built Pedagogy: Emerging IT Embodiments | Monahan

Opening Up Learning: From Spaces to Environments | Educause

Learning Spaces:  More Than Meets the Eye | Brown and Lippincott

Learning Environments:  Where Space Technology and Culture Converge | Wargar and Dobbin

Learning Spaces-Images on Flickr

Infocommons- Images on Flickr

One Teachers Story:  T.H.E. Learning Lab | John Howell


Literacy Resources

Comments on Greenhow, Robelia, and Hughes: Expanding the New Literacies Conversation | Leu, O’Byrne, Zawilinski, McVerry and Everett-Cacopardo

21st Century Skills Compilation

Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture:  Media Education for the 21st Century | Henry Jenkins et. al   Begin on page 19

The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age | MacArthur Foundation  Begin on page 26

Clive Thompson on the New Literacy (student writing)

Expanding on the Concept of Literacy | Elizabeth Daly

New Students, New Media, New Literacies | Jason Ohler

New Media Literacies | Jason Ohler

Orchestrating the Media Collage | Jason Ohler

Questions to consider when considering building learning spaces:

How would you characterize learning spaces in schools today?

Do the characteristics of successful physical spaces inform how successful digital spaces are constructed?  Are traits transferable?

What does systemic mean to you?

What are the key components of a multidimensional learning space?

What is the relationship/importance of the interactions between formal and informal learning spaces?

How does the design of the learning space influence the perception of the type of teaching and learning about to take place?

How can/will you promote informal learning within the context of a virtual learning space?

How do we rethink the dimensions of learning?  Can, and should, learning be independent of time, space, and place, in K-12 education?

Who are the critical stakeholders that need to be involved in developing a multidimensional learning space?

What is required for an organization to be ready for the development of a multidimensional learning space?

Do you believe that social networking is a skill that schools should help students learn and understand?  Are there other forms of networking that might be more appropriate?  (academic networking, professional networking)

In a digital learning space, what new roles are required?  What roles emerge? 

What policies do you have in place to scaffold and support the learning that takes place in these new spaces?

How will you assess what takes place in the learning space?

What solution will you build?

Should students be able to contribute content to the knowledge commons?

Given those core skills, what attributes run horizontally across all core skills? (for example, adaptability or intellectually curiosity)

How can a learning space support direct instruction, individual learning and collaborative learning?