Designing an ecology that supports students to be critical thinkers, engaged in problem-solving

The spaces that we exist in have an effect on our learning. When you are comfortable, the noise is low (or is the noise that you like to listen to such as waves breaking or music), the limbic system in your brain dials down the stress (fight or flight for example). Also part of the limbic system, the Hippocampus (required for the formation of new memories and the maintenance of cognitive maps) and Amygdala (performs a primary role in the processing and memory of emotional reactions) are more likely to be engaged if you are comfortable (physically and emotionally). So, the spaces in which you learn are important.

These are a couple of engaging resources that talk about learning spaces. The first is a TED-x video entitled Re-imagining Students As Agents Of Change. The speaker, Christian Long, gives some examples from his experiences with people in different environments and how they influence the ways they, and we, think, act and interact.

It was great to see an online article (recommended by DK) in Chicago Architect, which “featured Trung Le in a two-page article about his thoughts on the design of learning spaces. In it, Le discusses a number of projects he’s currently working on, The Third Teacher and trends he sees shaping the development of 21st century learning spaces” (source).

Trung Le is quoted as saying “Do you want your kids to be critical thinkers, engaged in problem-solving? We can design the ecology to support those goals”, and  “If we want students to be engaged, we need to design the entire ecology to support that”. Have a read and see what you think – please leave comments below.

What’s On The Mind of Trung Le

Tessa Grey also shared the following here: “Some of you might be interested in the open learning spaces blog hosted by Chris Bradbeer (Associate Principal in Auckland), embarking on a research masters program on the subject of pedagogy and classroom spaces). He writes”,

If you’re in the Auckland area you may well be interested in theOpen Learning Spaces Professional Learning Group. The idea is to bring together teachers and leaders who are interested in open/ flexible/ innovative learning environments on a termly basis to investigate the opportunities and challenges that they present.

About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ ( I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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