Research about Kuwait. What would you add?



How can we create better learning environments?

Book: Lernumgebungen. Erziehungswissenschaftliche Perspektiven auf Schulgebäude und Klassenzimmer. Edited by Ulrike Stadler-Altmann.
Additional research added / included in this blog posting.

What are examples of advice for architects / designers of better learning environments?

  • Pages 13, 29 and 123: It is important that architects work on discovering needs users have and involve users in creating / designing learning landscapes that meet the needs of users. To involve users, workshops and various social media platforms can be used.
  • Page 17: Use relevant designs and colors, so students will love their learning environments / school buildings. Create / develop school building façades in ways that make them become interaction partners for people.
  • Page 24: Create green areas, cafes, babbling brooks, theatre rooms, libraries and versatile rooms that are comfortable for people to work / learn in.
  • Page 26: Natural wood usually appears warmer than glass and steel. In addition, the wall colors red and or yellow appear warm, blue and white or gray rather cold. Plants, curtains, carpets and furniture also help create a warm environment.
  • Page 64: Encourage people to use their own electronic devices and decide where they want to learn. That creates ownership which is important.
  • Page 76: Place a “wonder tree” in a central location at the school / university. Invite all students and teachers to “hang up” questions and answers to questions in the tree.
  • Page 103-104: Learning strategies and teaching methods suggest the need for a new form of learning environment characterized by both individual and small-group activities in different physical locations using different media.
  • Page 105: Ideas by students and teachers from a school design challenge included a more colorful environment, extensive use of the outdoors and garden areas, space for tutors and an environment that was open and inviting.
  • Page 106: An “L” shaped room provide flexibility for teachers in managing space and setting up learning centers. It is also useful for allowing a variety of teaching methods – including team teaching and encouraging small groups to work independently. An “L” shaped room also encourages increased teacher movement resulting in more teacher- student contact, more positive student attitude and enhanced learning.
  • Page 116: Flexibility is increasingly important. Use, for example, furniture that can easily be moved around and combined in new ways. Also use mobile walls / whiteboards.
  • Page 129-131 Think of the school as a small city and the city as a big school. Open up the school to the community. Invite people across communities to learn with students and teachers.
  • Page 148: Reduce noise in rooms, for example by placing noise reduction panels on walls and ceilings.

Additional research about learning environments.

Does it pay off to invest in the development of learning spaces?

  • Page 27: Coloring, lighting, air quality, sound quality, furniture and food supply significantly impact moods, well-being and learning performance of people.
  • Pages 28 and 123: Studies show that school environments, which have been positively experienced by students – including architecture, coloring, schoolyard design, decorations etc. – are associated with less school-vandalistic activities.
  • Page 28: Classrooms with windows and “warm” lighting lower the rate of illness of learners.
  • Page 33: Variety, flexibility and open learning spaces are assumed to afford individualized or student-centered practice.
  • Page 43: Teachers view spacious rooms, digital projectors and flexibility as important to improve teaching.
  • Page 55: Beautifully designed rooms have positive effects on attention and the feeling of group affiliation, thus facilitating participation.
  • Page 56: When a teacher plans and arranges the design of tables and chairs prior to a learning event, he / she can facilitate individual work and / or work in groups – thereby increasing learning efficiency.
  • Page 117: A building, which is not rectangular, does not cost more than a rectangular building. The important question is how creatively search for new solutions.

Learning about digital democracy

Earlier this year, I participated – along with many other people from across the world – in the very interesting and highly interactive learning initiative The active citizen in a digital age. Finding the topic strongly relevant for increasing the quality of our lives, I searched for possibilities to learn more about how digitization changes democracies.

Participating at this event, for example, I learned more about the growth of open organizations. As I understood it, the growth of open organizations is being fueled by several exciting technologies – including social media and other platforms on which people can learn from each other. At this event, I discovered that there is a large potential to involve more people to develop and communicate ideas on all kinds of topics as well as vote for / select which ideas to test / try out. In this regard, I learned by participating at this event that Internet voting has a high approval rate among people, and that pilot tests are being done.

Reflecting on the events / learning challenges mentioned above, there are more initiatives which I find very useful. For example, I experience it as a value adding initiative that learning events are open for everyone – meaning that external people have the possibility to participate / get involved / contribute. Also, I find it helpful that social media are being put into service, for example by using hashtags such as this one. I experience that using hashtags can help people to learn from / with each other.

Thinking about other initiatives that could be beneficial for involving people more before, during and/or after a learning event – and thereby strengthen the learning experience – I came to think of these three ideas:

Idea # 1
What about making Internet access open to everyone? In several spaces, I experience it is uncomplicated for people to access the Internet. At facilities of the Zürich University of Teacher Education, for example, I experienced that to get access to the Internet, you simply enter your mobile phone number on the start page and then enter the code you receive via sms. And at train stations across Switzerland, I experienced that getting access to the Internet is even more uncomplicated. Once you connect to the relevant wi-fi network under settings / connections / wi-fi on your mobile electronic device, you are online.

Idea # 2
What about using the poll functionality on Twitter to ask event participants to vote on various topics related to the particular learning event?

Idea # 3 
During a learning event, what if the moderator facilitates / moderates one or more exercises among event participants? Here is an example of a short 2-person exercise example that the moderator could initiate when an invited expert has spoken for about 20 minutes: “Please turn to the person sitting next to you. During the next 3 minutes, please share with each other what is important to each of you in what has just been presented.” After this 3 minute chat exercise in 2-person groups, the expert continues her / his presentation.

Additional event exercises:

Listening tips

In the video below, you will find 3 listening tips. To learn more about listening, have a look also at this research on listening. When you think about what is important in order to listen well, what do you think is missing?