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Steelcase University is a beautiful space in which to learn and work. The Michigan Flipped and Blended Learning Conference held there on February 21 brought out the creative synergy in all participants including yours truly.
The new age space was awe-inspiring upon entry as comfortable furniture of all different types, articulations and heights were around every corner. The space was full of windows and sunlight allowing for a natural feel for the environment. (See slideshow pictures to the left).
We got down to business with the conference keynote presentation by Jason Bretzman: Where The Mermaids Stand. Jason encouraged the audience to take chances and be innovative educators as even when we feel alone in the endeavors, we can always find others out there for support. For more on his message see the YouTube video of the keynote to the left.
One item you will notice on the stage during his presentation is a Steelcase advertising piece which states "Active spaces, active minds, active learning." During the entire day, my thoughts kept coming back to this phrase (and this Facebook page which I found while I was zoning out on my technology at one point). All sessions I attended from one hosted by Andrew Kim, a Steelcase employee who showcased improved social interactions via their furniture, to another by Gerry Marchand of Huntley High School in Huntley, IL focused on Standards, Mastery and Blended Learning, kept me realizing that without an active space real, authentic learning will never take place.
These spaces must be both physical and digital and as pointed out by Gerry's session, must allow for student pacing and decision making. Rarely do we as adults gleefully dive into our work when it has been prescribed step by step by our boss. When it must all be completed at our desk with no variety, choice, collaboration or feeling of value do you see folks flocking to it? With this in mind, why do we often insist that our students must stay seated in rows quietly doing what we tell them with only compliance or the office as a choice?
If we lay out a proper roadmap of what is expected of our students and why it is important, and we allow them the digital and physical space to create what they need to be successful, I'm fairly certain they will prove to us what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Just a chance to reflect over educational articles and ideas that float through my head.