Learning Environments

The journal article was called ‘Role of technology in the design of learning environments’.  The paper considered a different way of designing learning environments using sandpits which are small interactive workshops designed to enable creative thinking with key stakeholders.  13 sandpits were held considering large (the Cube) and small (the Poppy flower) learning environments with 32 teachers and 25 students.  Participants were from a medium to large teaching focussed University in SE England and were representative across a range of disciplines, gender, and year of study.

The general consensus from those present was that the Cube was not an ideal learning environment, and this prompted much discussion.  The use of technology in learning environments and whether students encouraged or resisted this varied across the programmes represented.  Some students still wanted paper handouts whilst others would be frustrated if they weren’t able to use their own laptop and connect to others in the room.  Some students were provided with an iPad on starting their programme whilst others were encouraged to ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD).  All those present wished to use technology to enhance teaching and learning as well as student engagement.

The paper highlighted the preference from teachers and students for smaller learning environments, but this was difficult to reconcile with increased numbers of places on programmes as well as increased media attention on students wishing to be back in lecture theatres following the pandemic.  The group discussed the deeply embedded culture associated with going to University as attending lectures.  They also noted the importance of explaining to students at the start of a course unit the pedagogical approach and ethos behind how the unit is taught.  Helping students to understand the teaching design or approach at the start of a unit can help them engage and learn more effectively.

The group moved on to discuss how to co-create a teaching session including starting with a blank piece of paper (to give complete freedom), using a more structured approach (to enable the re-designed unit to work within resource constraints), and use of external facilitators (to enable students to talk freely). The group emphasised the importance of the student voice, particularly for any inclusion requirements.

The take home messages from the participants of the journal club at the end of the session were as follows:

Continue the conversation through our Yammer Pedagogy Journal Club.

Ken Masters (2013) Edgar Dale’s Pyramid of Learning in medical education: A literature review, Medical Teacher, 35:11, e1584-e1593, DOI: 10.3109/0142159X.2013.800636