Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Collaborative Zone

An ICT lab is an outdated model for learning ICT – whether it’s a Primary or High school setting. Desktop computers in rows, students working independently and barriers between students are not conducive to discussion, teamwork and creativity. Our iCentre – the learning hub of the school has multiple places for learning and incorporates a busy library, seminar rooms and an ICT space.
So what to do with such a space: to drag it into the 21st century and use models of technology integration that enhance learning? ....... Enter “The Collaborative Zone”.

Firstly I’m working from the premise that I want students to do and feel a number of things:
  •         A sense of fun and play should dominate; students should be excited about being somewhere that can operate in different ways to their classrooms.
  •         There should be choice – space for small groups, big groups, individuals.
  •         A range of activities can take place in the same environment
  •         Students should have choice of technology throughout the room
  •         Choice of learning furniture should also be available. 

I’m not keen entirely to throw out the desktop computers – they are new and do serve a purpose, however its time to cull the 1:1 desktop model. At least 2/3 can be relocated around the school. Spread the computers out around the wall desks and instantly there is space for two or three students to gather around. These small groups then can also accommodate group members on other devices – ipads, laptops etc. The space should reflect the technology use going on out in the community – a range of devices for a variety of tasks.
The rest of the space becomes more open and flexible and can include:
  •        A circular desk for group work
  •        A set of cube stools that can move around the space – gather at the Smartboard, congregate at the corners of the room, even head out the door to the undercover area adjacent to the Library.
  •         Easy chairs around a coffee table
  •         Portable white board / flip chart easels

The area also features a ‘Media Studio’ with green screen and lighting for video filming and production and sound proofing for podcasting.
The teacher’s desk makes a great ‘animation station’ or a place to build Lego robots. Relocating to share an office with the Librarian offers professional collaboration by the school's information specialists.
The iCentre as a hub and the 'Collaborative Zone' as its technology focused space will offer to students a multimodal learning environment - flexible arrangements of technology and furniture groups for creative playful multimedia learning.

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