Ben Feigert wrote a post that I think helps expand our thinking around visual literacy to not just be online but in the physical world that we live and teach in.
The more important design issues for students, I believe, are awareness of the ways designers use apparently-benign tools to shape user experience. I want my students to know about and critique face-tracking software at retail stores that businesses use to squeeze another point of profit. And I want kids to understand that their real-life shopping experience is exquisitely, intentionally shaped by design choices backed by EEG and eye-tracking data, even as their online world is, too.
It’s a great point….visual are used more than just to make things look good…they effect us every day in the real world as well.
Which has me thinking…..
How much do we pay attention to the visual space of our classroom?
Classrooms are great places to see how visuals might effect learning. Just because the walls are covered does that mean it’s a good classroom? Where is the white space? Does the set up of the classroom allow for different learning styles and types? You can find a lot of information on the internet about how classroom are not built for learning….we know this…and yet we continue to build classrooms the same and furnish them with the same equipment.
When you move to a technology rich classroom, the make up of the room needs to change as well. You can’t introduce a powerful new way of learning without it effecting everything else.
I want my classroom to look like Starbucks
Why is it students will go to Starbucks rather than the library or their own bedroom to do their homework. Why do many professional hangout there doing work? Why will I….a guy that works from home….pack all my stuff up every so often and work at a Starbucks?
What makes Starbucks so peaceful? So perfect to either work alone if you choose or work in a group if you need to? What if our classrooms could look like Starbucks?
There is a great article that I use in some of my presentations titled Six Spaces of Social Media. It could just as easily be titled Six Spaces of the Classroom. Here is what the author suggests for the six spaces. I have changed the examples to be classroom based rather than social media based. See what you think.
Behaviours: Private, intimate communication, normally with only one or two others, often using private references, slang or code
Expectations: Absolute privacy and control over the communication between users, and no unauthorised communication from third parties (eg spam)
Examples: reading area, self-work area
Behaviours: Reinforcing the identity of a self-defined group, and your position within the group, eg ‘stroking‘ behaviour to let the group share a sense of belonging, or mild competitiveness to signal hierarchies within the group (eg who has the most friends, posts, tags, etc)
Expectations: A shared reference point for the group – eg a band, football club, school, workplace, region, etc. Rules about approving membership of the group, and icons for the group to signal their membership (badges, profiles, etc)
Examples: group work, collaborative projects
Behaviours: Creating your own content or showcasing your talents to an audience outside of your usual social group
Expectations: The ability to control the context and presentation of your creative content. Ways to receive feedback, comments and advice from other users.
Examples: eportfolios, blogs, bulletin boards in the hallway
Behaviours: Playing a defined role within a game structure. Experimenting through simulation, rehearsal and teamwork to achieve a goal. Iterative exploration or repetition of activities in order to perfect their performance
Expectations: A clear set of rules that is understood by all players. Clear rewards for success or failure. The ability to test the boundaries of the game structure, or to perform extravagantly to show off your talents
Examples: work area, performance area
Behaviours: Co-ordination of lots of small individual acts to achieve a common goal. Shared belief in the goal, and advocacy to encourage participation by others.
Expectations: Rules or structures that help co-ordinate activity towards the goal. The ability to create micro-communities within larger participation groups – eg a group of friends going on a political march together, or a workplace group created to train for a marathon
Examples: Shared Spaces, Shared Desks, Group Desks
Behaviours: Passive viewing of a linear event as part of a large group. Organising a group to attend an event, and sharing experiences afterwards
Expectations: Spectacle, entertainment, a feeling of thrill or joy. A shared sense of occasion, or of being taking out of your everyday existence for the duration of the event. Mementos or relics of the event (eg programmes, tickets, recordings, photos, etc)
Examples: Smartboard, computer listening area, audio/visual area
The next time you walk into Starbucks think about these spaces and how a Starbucks is set up.
Need an idea for a blog post? How about take a picture of your classroom and show us how your classroom is designed to be visual and productive. My good friend Clarence Fisher did this a few years ago.