Chris Campey from 7 News reports that “tablets and smartphones are the pens and paper of today’s learning.”
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that in the next twenty years more than 40% of Australia’s jobs will be automated. Begging the question, will students be prepared for jobs that may not exist when they graduate? And;
What skills are they actually learning to prepare them for the changing world?
Schools like Living Faith Lutheran Primary School in Murrumba Downs have joined the New Generational Learning Space revolution and redesigned their classrooms with a more modern look you would expect to find at Google’s head office.
The redesign of the Year 6 learning space was a collaborative project between the school, Bickerton Masters Architecture and BFX Furniture. The result was ‘The Learning Plaza’, one large space broken down into smaller spaces with key furniture pieces configured for various class or individual activities.
The school’s aim was to deviate from the traditional desks-in-rows classroom design and create a large flexible space for a cohort of approximately 85 students. The space now resembles an airport lounge and exudes an air of comfort and a positive culture of learning.
“It’s all about shifting away from an era of compliance and moving towards one of engagement. Research teaches us that if a child is engaged they achieve higher and are more motivated.” – Principal, Jane Mueller (Courier Mail)
The space encourages collaboration, creativity and fosters the entrepreneurial skills that employers will be looking for.
At Living Faith Lutheran Primary School technology has become as natural a resource to students as textbooks.Technology is integrated into everyday learning, with interactive whiteboards or Apple TVs in each classroom for students to use. Students have been using the technology to work on projects and access teacher-created digital resources such as digital textbooks and video tutorials.
They’ve been creating their own digital products such as videos, trailers, e-books, slideshows, photo stories and will even learn coding as part of a digital technologies subject being introduced in early 2017.
The space features BFX’s ergonomically designed furniture including SmarTable™ Twist Single Tables and E-Chairs with Sled Bases for maximum support and comfort. Students have the freedom of lounging on the floor in BFX’s Bean Chair with an iPad or brainstorming on the whiteboard finish tables.
All of the student tables feature lockable castors so students can move the furniture around themselves. The most popular of these tables are ones that let students write on the tabletop like the SmarTable™ Carve Student Table with Whiteboard Finish.
“The whiteboard desks are really good if you need to take quick notes or actually do something like a brainstorm.” Said a grade 6 student.
Bickerton Masters Architecture showcases their design talents in ‘The Stadium’, a modern raised 3 tier bench constructed for a large group of students to come together and listen to instruction. The space also features ‘Community Booths’ and ‘Genius Bars’ specially crafted for smaller groups to work collaboratively. The students can use the furniture in different ways, for example, using the Flip Flop Lounge Chairs as a bar stools.
BFX’s range of ottomans and modular pieces really highlights how seating can be arranged to create dynamic spaces that encourages student interaction. There are also plenty of flexible areas for students to work individually in the ‘Fish Bowl’ and ‘Build-Your-Own’ (BYO) areas.
The Rebecca McConnell, Director of Learning and Innovation confirmed that;
95% of students in year six said they now ‘like’ or ‘love’ school
A notable increase considering last year only 65% of students commented positively on their school experiences.
Its not just that these learning environments are more engaging for students, they also give them the opportunity to practice collaborative skills with technology. Skills highly sought after in the ever-adapting workplaces they’ll one-day join.
“I think schools are moving. It just takes a little bit longer than say a business, because its quite a big structure.” Says McConnell.
The success of the Learning Plaza has resulted in a gradual transformation in student learning as well as teaching pedagogy. Sparking interest in how other schools might do the same with their classrooms.
Principal Jane Mueller says they are thrilled to be hosting regular tours around the school and have “. . . received interest from educators around country,”. All the way from Canada to the UK and the US, more and more schools are joining the educational revolution. Some schools have even modelled their own classroom designs by building on elements from Living Faith’s Learning Plaza.
7 News, 2016, A look inside ‘future’ classrooms, November 8, Retrieved from https://au.news.yahoo.com/video/watch/33142462/a-look-inside-future-classrooms/#page1
Horswill, A 2016, ‘Learning plazas and genius bars are part of new classrooms attracting international attention at Living Faith Lutheran Primary School, Murrumba Downs’, Pine Rivers Press, Courier Mail, 19 Feburary 2016, Retrieved from http://www.couriermail.com.au/questnews/moreton/learning-plazas-and-genius-bars-are-part-of-new-classrooms-attracting-international-attention-at-living-faith-lutheran-primary-school-murrumba-downs/news-story/8b15a6eac43386a2e19e2b6cd42fc2c9
A4LE 2016, ‘Living Faith Lutheran Primary School – Year 6 Learning Plaza’, Association for Learning Environments, 24 May 2016, Retrieved from http://a4le.org.au/awards/2016-awards/2016-category-4-renovation/modernisation-/-under-$2m/living-faith-lutheran-primary-school-year-6-learning-plaza