Modern Learning Environments: ‘Pop Up’ Conference Session Proved Successful

Published: Thursday 29 January 2015

At the recent ULearn Conference, (October 2014) held in Rotorua New Zealand, CefpiNZ and Furnware teamed up to provide a 'pop up' session during one of the lunch breaks at the conference. Mark Osborne (Core Education) and Jacque Allen (Cognition Education), both CefpiNZ Auckland committee members, provided the participants with an opportunity to discuss the ways in which furniture can and was impacting on learning for their students. The large number of interested onlookers watching the session unfold indicates the growing interest around how teachers and students are starting to engage with this thinking.

Based at the Furnware stand the teachers were able to work collaboratively on whiteboard tables discussing and drawing the many ways students can manipulate learning spaces and how the use of furniture made this possible. The focus was on the student's ability to enrich their own classroom environment to suit their learning needs. Many teachers highlighted the need for agile furniture and solutions that offered the students multiple opportunities to work collaboratively and independently throughout the learning space.

Using the research from David Thornburg, Campfires in Cyberspace, teachers were exposed to the idea of creating learning spaces that reflect the learning needs of modern day teaching practice. Creating learning spaces for rich engagement between students and personalised learning areas for individuals is never an easy task, so the need for well-designed chairs and tables of appropriate heights and sizes is vital to establish these opportunities. Participants worked through designing learning spaces that encompassed Thornburg's learning spaces; the sandpit, watering hole, mountain top, campfire and the cave. Using these as a guide participants discussed how their students were operating and using different furniture to create learning spaces that motivated students and enriched learning opportunities.