Category Archives: Learning Environment

Teachers Don’t Know It All

photo    Over the last fews days I have been the proudest mother on the planet. Both my daughters, aged 10 and 8,  sang and performed as part of Opera Australia’s “The Magic Flute”. At that age I was more concerned about whether I had a handball square at “little lunch” time or whether I had the latest Holly Hobby colouring pencils and accessories, which were the craze when I was their age. Would I have sung on stage with Opera Australia and the answer would be a clear no. But in fairness to my own parents the opportunities were quite limited for me as I was growing up for many reasons. And overall I would never have had the singing voice to sing anyway.

But the point of this post is to have educators be more open to different learning spaces and arenas to learn within. Over the last week my children have gained so much knowledge about theatre, singing, independence, the arts, teamwork, self discipline, timing, personal responsibilities, movement and the list goes on. How does a teacher program all these things in a couple of days within classroom walls and be assured that the students were attaining them. If I had tried to teach my children what they had gained recently I can be sure that it wouldn’t have been half as appealing as it was to be taught but professionals in the field.

So why is it that we teachers feel that they need to know everything to be able to teach our students. Perhaps teaching should include the term facilitator of learning or learning planner and leave the learning to the “professionals”. Inviting people from within our communities should be encouraged. The curriculum should be allowed to be more fluid. It fact it should be encouraged to be more fluid. Instead we contain our curriculum within the confinements of a classroom and expect ourselves, teachers,  to be the experts at everything.

I also ask teachers to be mindful that these students, outside the classroom arena, are engaged in incredible learning experiences and to acknowledge the learning that is happening in these areas without the usual classroom teacher involved.

It doesn’t make sense  to me anymore that we limit our students learning to one individual. Please, I ask you to consider, extending the walls of the classroom to include more opportunities and more people in the learning process…how much more exciting would it be!



Filed under Learning Environment, Learning Spaces

When Student Meets Academic

imagesLast week, I was honoured to be asked to present a workshop at the Australian Catholic University  Learning and Teaching Conference called “Learning for Life 2014”. I co-presented this workshop with Mr Adam Staples, a lecturer at the university. What is interesting is that I am a student, or at least was a student, in one of Adam’s university units in the online environment.

The conference obviously allowed for many memorable moments particularly listening to their keynote speakers Dr Larry Johnson and Dr Panos Vlachopoulos who both inspired the minds of many in the conference room.

But for me, the interesting concept was to listen, as a student, in a room full of people who determine the thinking of the teachers who teach our children. It felt like a big, very accommodating staffroom. These people are educating the teachers in our schools to consider their teaching. When this comment is fully digested, you realise what an important role these people have.

My experience started by meeting Adam for the first time in person even though we have communicated for a year through university studies. This was quite a comical moment as we have both communicated via email, phone and Twitter and suddenly we are face to face. This is the beauty of online learning, i.e. you can know someone and never meet in person.

And the introduction of other academics and staff flowed for the next 24 hours...Dr Donna Gronn, Penny Wheeler, Dr Kristian Lorenzen and many more. From Professors to Doctors in their chosen study area to Directors to learning staff. All people who have extended their own learning and experiences. All these people feel committed to the learning process enough to continually push the boundary of their own learning and experiences.

What then would a student have to offer these educated people, some might ask? The answer is that the student is able to allow them to reflect on the “other side of the fence” and perhaps give an insight into what makes for effective online learning. Adam Staples and myself have had this conversation over the last six months in particular. What has resulted is a desire to extend this question so much to design a theory and framework around it to make the online community of practice or as we have called it an  “e-COP” one where we are able to learn how to teach online and learn how to learn online. Some very exciting “thinking” times ahead!




Filed under Communities of Practice, Learning Environment, Online Learning

Creativity and Imagination is Just Simply Learning in an Genuine Environment

ImageFor a couple of months now, I have been reflecting on the role of creativity and imagination in education (CIE).

I have looked at definitions and understandings by the experts and by the students. And I keep coming back to the same is simply Learning in a Genuine Environment.

When we talk about creativity in education we don’t expect the master to come up in the equation. We don’t expect students to be gifted in some way particularly in some artistic way. But we do expect to see words which just seem like second language in a student’s natural world.

Are not words like risk taking, discovering, passions, motivation, flourish, innovative,engagement, collaboration, confidence , words of great capacity; words of great excitement; words of great authenticity?

These words are purely words that exist in a child’s real world. They exist in their everyday. Students may not be aware of ways to develop creative thinking or ways to format their innovative thinking, but the fact remains that creativity and imagination is not just in education but in the everyday world. Formal education is simply a means to develop and exercise this creativity. This exercise can lead to greatness in having an “original idea that has value” (Robinson, Sir Ken, 2013).

When a child picks up an insect in the garden and asks where it comes from and explores it environment are we not seeing real world creativity? When a student is driven to discover the amazing, the unknown and the known, the natural and the unnatural is this not creativity in learning in  our everyday, in our genuine environments?

To experience creativity a person needs to know creativity and when this happens, it will be obvious that so much creativity is simply using our senses to explore the world and engage our brain to respond in a non-linear manner.

It can be written in more documented form but the reality is Creativity and Imagination is Just Simply Learning in an Genuine Environment


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Filed under Creativity and Imagination in Education, Learning Environment

What Are Educators Missing?

I grew up in a time where the rows of classroom seats were perfectly aligned. The step platform elevated me to a dusty blackboard. The sun drenched classroom windows were exposed to the elements. The teacher stood out the front, usually on the elevated platform so as to get a clear view of the children in the far back row. I say far because there were usually around 36 – 40 students in the class split into rows of 3-4.


This classroom is familiar to many  teachers and for some this is still the method of teaching. Very much teacher centred. But before I throw this scenario  out the window, Continue reading

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Filed under Classroom Designs, Confidence, Curriculum, Gilly Salmon, Internet, Learning Environment, Learning Spaces, Online Learning

Kindling a Flame

imagesAfter finishing a university unit and reading the evaluations of other students, I started to mentally digest what makes one unit more effective, enjoyable, rewarding and productive than another. After all, I am in the position of student at the moment as opposed to my usual position as teacher.

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

The thoughts of my fellow students have had my mind working overtime as I tried to “steal” some teaching and implementation skills from the unit. Each evaluation I read seemed to repeat many common statements.I found this fascinating as this was not a group to rely on others to think for them, this was a well thought and informed group. Why then the many similarities?

The unit itself was online but regardless of the different formats ie my classroom face to face teaching as opposed to online, I realised that there are many elements I could borrow from this unit:

These elements as I understood, defined and summarised are as follows: Continue reading


Filed under face to face learning, Learning Environment, Online Learning

A Future “Generating Knowledge” Space Design Brief

All Working TogetherThis is a reflection I have visited so often lately, that is, to brief a future learning space. One that will keep up with changes socially, environmentally and technically. And the more I reflect on this the more “dense” and “thickened” my ideas become. To the point that I no longer felt I had a clear vision.

What would be needed in a future learning space in the outback is on a completely different level and purpose to the city. What would be needed if the world resources continue to dive is not “predictable” in just one area as education as so much is affected by it.

Then this morning I realised that no matter how many times I scribed my thoughts on paper, on the computer, in my eyes there is no “crystal ball”, no solution, no correct answer. It was all about current research, current ideas and future perceptions. Continue reading


Filed under 21st Century Learning, Classroom Designs, Communities of Practice, Curriculum, Hedley Beare, Learning Environment, Learning Spaces



Starting new at university after 20 plus years is not easy especially when my days at university were incredibly different to today. On-line learning…what is that?

My days at uni were all still about learning obviously but “back then” I thought a professional looking assignment was the one that I submitted after typing it out on a typewriter with built in liquid paper!

So, as I ponder what units I will choose to study next semester I spent some time looking at some of the key elements of this unit. That is, my first university study after all these years…no wonder my head hurts!

I remember my lecturer saying to us at the beginning of the unit “I don’t want to inundate you with everything in one go”. How busy could it be, I thought? I am sure, with the “wisdom of age” behind me I would be ok…hmmm…

Well, I started to mind map my unit and look how much we have explored, and probably a lot more I have missed out on here…my head can’t think past these.

It was an interesting exercise because what I thought would be a unit of physical “Learning Spaces” turns out to be so much more…so much more!EDFD459mind map


Filed under 21st Classrooms, Communities of Practice, Curriculum, Learning Environment, Learning Spaces, mind map, mind mapping, Personal Learning Networks, roof top playgrounds, Slideshow, Taxonomy, WEBQUESTS