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EdCamp MN Keynote: Randy Fielding "Celebrating Learning Spaces" (Better Late Than Never!)

Randy Fielding, founding partner at Fielding Nair International, who also happens to be my neighbor, gave the Keynote address at EdCampMN in July. Here are my belated notes from his talk....

Fielding/Nair has identified 20 different learning modalities in their work with schools all around the world. 

20 Learning Modalities

  1. Independent Study-We have good lecture spaces, but we don’t have good spaces for independent work.
  2. Peer to Peer Tutoring
  3. Team Collaboration
  4. 1:1 Learning
  5. Lecture Based Learning
  6.  Project-Based Learning
  7.  Learning w/ Mobile Technology
  8. Distance Learning
  9. Internet Based Research
  10. Student Presentations
  11. Performance Based Learning
  12. Round-Table Discussions
  13. Interdisciplinary Learning
  14. Naturalist Learning
  15. Social Emotional Learning
  16. Art-Based Learning
  17.  Storytelling
  18.  Design Based Learning
  19.  Team Learning/Teaching
  20. Play Based Learning

After listing and explaining the modalities, Fielding asked the audience to pick our top-5 most important modalities and stand up when one of them was read. For each of the modalities above, someone in the audience stood up, but the most popular seemed to be Team Collaboration and Project Based Learning. This made sense to me, given the EdCamp audience.

Part 2: Key Design Patterns

Fielding referenced metaphors for learning in the 21st Century that Dr. David Thornburg shared in Campfires in Cyberspace: Primordial Metaphors for Learning in the 21st Century.
Thornburg notes that if you go back far enough in time you’ll find that many learned around the campfire. Some didn’t listen well, but at the watering hole the next day, their friend mentions something about the campfire discussion. For some, the learning didn't happen till they got back to the cave.
In first 10 years, boys don’t listen as well.
Cave space… A lot of the best learning happens on their own, in the shower or in the car, or walking around the lake. A space to create and reflect, absorbing knowledge and synthesizing.

Watering Hole spaces
Learning from Life…Cleaning the school, serving the food. Authentic learning opportunities.
He had us look at a picture of a classroom, where all three types of spaces were evident, for relatively low cost.
In our district, Mark Wallace, who teaches at Highlands Elementary has incorporated much of this low cost design thinking into his classroom. 

Part 3: The Effect of Climate on Design

How does climate effect design? “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing!” We as teachers/designers can add elements to allow outside connections to take place.
In traditional curriculum mapping, educators look at what you are doing when, not where. This is where design comes in to play. Organizing where you put things in an asthetic way is important.
Is there a specific color that works best? No, the whole pallet needs to be included. The idea that red will insight violence is a myth. Using the right shades can have an impact. Variety is important.
Everything being the same with the same chairs, lined up in rows as a factory model that is “inhuman” and not respectful of students rights!
The Common Ground Curriculum is a step in the right direction.

One of my thoughts during the discussion is that the buy-in for the pedagogical shift MUST happen prior to the change in design just like it has to happen prior to an increase in student access to technology.  The shift from teacher-centered to student-centered learning is crucial, or staff will move back to their old “tried-and-true” ways.

Fielding then shared some of the work Fielding-Nair is doing in the Twin Cities area at Venture Academy and the High School for Recording Arts.
Literacy-Using local and international stories
Learning to Know, Learning to Do
Games/Free Time
Fielding shared the design work they have been doing at AnneFrank Inspire Academy in San Antonio, which looks like an amazing learning space.
The goal is:150 or less students where everyone knows your name.
A question came from the audience about design and safety. Jane Jacobs who wrote, “The Death and Life of the Great American Cities.” Urban renewal made cities unsafe, especially in public housing areas, as buildings with porches and great visibility were replaced with concrete/bunker-like high-rises with no space for “eyes on the street.”
Having open spaces where faculty can see, and small learning communities where people have relationships with one another, that safety is improved.
Video cameras are cheap and can be a good thing, as those being recorded are going to be deterred.

I appreciated Randy involving the audience in several peer-to-peer interactions and incorporating some great yoga breaks to help us center and receive his message. Great techniques for all of us to emulate in our professional learning interactions.

You can view a video of Fielding's talk below, thanks to EdCampMN Co-Organizer, Carl Anderson.


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