Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Space for learning

There seems to have been some discussion recently about the use of space in education. I wanted to share some of my thoughts. Not so long ago, I was reading about barriers to effectively incorporating new technologies in teaching. One of these barriers related to space: the organisation of students, furniture and technology.

Warren (2003) in her paper on Actor Network Theory explained how the ‘machines themselves, the walls that housed them...played a powerful but largely invisible role in the uptake of ICTs.' The overall environment had a significant impact on workability of class technology success.

Honan (2008) referred to the overall effect of technology placement:

It is becoming common for primary schools to locate computers in hubs, laboratories or withdrawal rooms. While these central locations may be efficient for cabling and networking, they detract from teachers incorporating digital technologies into their daily practices. (Honan 2008, p. 42)

It is certainly challenging to fully integrate technology into classes when it is not in a suitable focal location.

At some schools, teachers have shared access with adjoining classrooms to a limited number of  desktop computers. When teachers wish to use computers for whole class access, they either need to book a laboratory (in high demand), farm students out to the various hubs around the place (difficult to actually monitor and assist students), or perhaps book a mobile laboratory (where each unit must be unplugged, unlocked, packed into a transportation container, transported to the classroom, with the reverse process occurring prior to the end of the lesson). Add to this the hope that within their teaching space, the wireless network will be accessible and functioning.

Honan, E 2008, 'Barriers to teachers using digital texts in literacy classrooms', Literacy, vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 36-43.

Warren, W 2003, 'Actor Network Theory goes to School', NZAARE Conference, PAPERCODE: WAR03832, Auckland, New Zealand.

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