There is a reasonable amount of hype in the education community around the subject of modern learning environment or MLEs.
Mark Osborne has written a good summary which is worth a quick read.
To accommodate and facilitate a best practice 21stC learning culture and pedagogy, learning areas need to have space and flexibility to cater for individualised and collaborative learning as well as large group or class presentations. Learning resources, such as technology, need ready access and ease of storage.
Wellesley is in a fortunate position having the whole school rebuilt over the last 10-12 years with our school hall/gym being the last facility to be completed. The design brief was driven by the learning needs of 21stC learners. Our learning areas are all built over code so there is plenty of open space adding to the teachers’ flexibility in implementing and facilitating the curriculum. If needed, most classrooms can accommodate two classes of children for activities such as meetings and presentations. We have break out spaces between classrooms which are ideal for collaborative learning, or small group teaching. These same spaces allow for individuals to pursue their inquiry studies, practise speeches, model making, cooking etc
Throw in the mix, large specialist areas for the visual arts, music, drama, dance, science, technology, learning support including GATE programmes and our students are well supported. Last year we opened an incredible resource, our new library. This is a stunning, stunning learning area and we are all enjoying it immensely. The small auditorium attached is adding great value.
Having large open playgrounds is a treat at the best of times but we are spoiled with the sea at our front door and the bush at our back door. In between are large fields, courts, creeks and a storybook dell where I am sure angels come to play at night.
As Mark Osborne says, “Working in an open, flexible learning environment where inquiries are shared, interventions devised collaboratively and reflections based on both self and peer observations, leads to a more robust, continuously improving community of practice.”
We are very, very lucky with our MLE but, at the end of the day, give me a committed and talented team of teachers to work with in a tent over mediocre teaching in fine facilities. Fortunately we have the former and solid pedagogy, passion and commitment will win out every time. It’s just nice to support our teachers with current and relevant resources.
Lastly enjoy this TV 3 clip on MLEs.