DAILY INSIGHT: Give us space - Tech Learning

DAILY INSIGHT: Give us space

Can we create collaborative spaces in our schools? 
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By Jon Castelhano, CIO Advisor

Collaborative Space
I
have written about classroom space before: Kindergarten Classes Rock, and how much learning takes place in that type of environment. "Kindergarten classrooms are setup in such a way that just screams collaboration and student centered learning!" So when I saw this eWeek article about Nvidia's new campus and then 21 Inspirational Collaborative Workspaces, I thought it was very interesting and worth passing along as food for thought. This is a drawing of Nvidia's new campus; it is based in California and has been making graphic cards and other technology since the early 1990s. What jumped out at me is the caption above the picture: "The nature of building Nvidia products requires experts from multiple disciplines to come together, and the building is designed above all for collaboration."

On Vacation

I have been to a few buildings outside of the K-12 arena in the greater Phoenix area that echo collaborative spots as where the real thinking takes place. Pearson and ASU Skysong stand out as having created great collaborative areas for their employees and students. Each location provided simple, yet comfortable, spaces equipped with whiteboards, presentation devices, and areas for small groups to gather. Visiting other places is kind of like going on vacation, you usually don't want to leave and begin trying to convince your spouse that a move would be good for the family. That feeling, however, should promote reflection on your workspace and more so thoughts on what our classrooms look like. Here are a few companies that may sound familiar and what they have done with collaborative spots.

 JWT

 Google

Google

Real World

I understand that classrooms are not going to turn into the plush spaces like we see at JWT and Google, but we can't dismiss the idea of opening them up and providing ways to allow collaboration. If you noticed in the examples above, there isn't a podium or anything that forces the direction in one particular spot at the front of the room. Sound familiar? Maybe we can help show the benefits of these collaborative spaces by picking a few spots around campuses where adults gather and set them up to be more collaborative locations. Subtly making some changes may be the way for others to realize the benefit and be more comfortable with transforming their workspace and classrooms. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask teachers what type of environment best suits collaboration.
  • Hang a whiteboard where teachers gather.
  • Comfortable furniture.
  • Place to plug in device, could be a power strip makes the difference in staying in a group of collaborating teachers or retreating back to classroom.
  • Coffee—you've been to Starbucks, right?

Jon Castelhano is director of technology for Apache Junction USD in Arizona. This blog is cross posted on his blog, This and That.

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