Creating modern learning environments to enhance teaching and learning outcomes

An inside look at Stonefields School’s innovative learning spaces

It’s no secret the rise of digital technologies is transforming teaching and learning practices across the globe, with education providers realising the importance of providing and supporting an innovative learning environment that fosters collaboration, creation and curation with educational technology.

And as the classroom of today continues to evolve, it has never been more important for schools and universities to identify the best ways to implement new technology and design new learning spaces in a way that will improve learning outcomes and the overall student experience.

According to Sarah Martin, Principal at Stonefields School, the key to achieving this is creating purposeful learning environments which allow students to flourish.

“An important element of learning spaces is they should be quite purposeful and provide opportunities between learners to engage with other learners,” she says.

Built within the last decade, Stonefields School is internationally recognised for their highly innovative facilities in terms of learning space design and accompanying pedagogy.

With a vision for collaborative and autonomous learning, Stonefields also serves as a research and teaching platform for universities and the higher education sector.

Ahead of New Generation Learning New Zealand 2016, Higher Ed IQ caught up with Sarah to find out what other schools and universities can learn from Stonefields unique approach to learning design, and the strategies her team is using to create personalised and innovative learning curriculums and how this is improving teaching and learning outcomes.

Creating purposeful learning spaces

“Stonefields School is a series of nine Learning Hubs, each which facilitate innovative learning. Each hub is an open modern learning space that accommodates the equivalent of 3 classes of learners and 3 teachers.

For example, in one of our hubs, there are 15 classrooms within one big space, each of which  are joined together with doors, that are more often than not, open. This creates lovely opportunities between spaces for learners to engage with other learners.

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Another important element of the learning hubs are that each has been designed to foster purposeful learning. For example, the lino where arts and crafts take place are wet to facilitate a different type of learning in comparison to other classes.

Another unique element is the layout of these spaces – there are a lot of interesting corners and spaces within the larger learning hub. For example, each hub has at least two smaller spaces where children can opt into a quieter space or do other learning activities which might require a quieter environment. These kinds of designs create purposeful spaces for children to learn.”

Facilitating a collaborative teaching approach

“One of the most important decisions we made before any teachers or learners came on-board, was that teachers would not have their own class. Different teachers have different strengths, so the collaborative approach is removing the ‘I and my’ from teaching and replacing it with ‘we and our.’

As a result, we use a lot different frameworks which underpins a highly synergetic team. We have a function that supports the team’s effectiveness but it all begins with being comfortable in the ‘we’ space and being incredibly self-aware. We have come to learn that collaboration is the supersizer in what is possible and it certainly optimises organisational culture.

The other capability we work intentionally hard on, is people’s ability to make sense with one another. When people are engaging in transformational conversations, it is important to understand and hear other people’s perspective – it’s not always about agreeing to disagree if we are going to move things forward. So when it comes to innovative and collaborative learning, people’s sense making is a big part of what we do.”

Integrating new tech into learning and teaching

“Stonefields is one-to-one learning from six years old. Our year two and three students all have iPads that the school owns – families can purchase a device for their child or they can buy it outright. We also have digital printers, GoPros and even IMAX recording and video-making facilities throughout the school. We embrace and utilise technology that will enhance kids’ learning outcomes.

When it comes to rolling-out new tech in learning spaces, it is important to consider student wants and needs. A great example of this would be a letter I received recently from a couple of students who wanted DJ boards to be able to mix and create their own music.

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Based on student feedback we bought these tools that the kids needed. The lesson learned is digital or not, it’s important to be very open to the student voice and student-led initiatives. They provide the ideas; we provide the funding to put those ideas into action.”

Measuring the impact: analysing data to understand the impact innovative learning has on student and teaching outcomes

“Since rolling-out new innovative learning spaces,  we have seen an increase in student achievements through the data we collect. For example, a cohort at the beginning our journey were 48 per cent below the national standard. After three years, that same cohort is now 100 per cent above the national standard.

Another important result has been staff satisfaction – we have highly engaged staff and our staff retention rate is quite high. Through staff surveys we have discovered staff feel they have an opportunity to pursue their own strengths in our workplace.

It is difficult to quantify improvements purely being about space, but when we look at the shift in our graduate profile, both soft and hard data points demonstrate our learner quality over time having positive effect around a child’s ability to reflet or connect through learning.

We also have national standard data which is gained digitally and we are able to use these data sets to see how a child is progressing and we can highlight the next steps for their learning profession.

We also have online progression available as well, which involves an Anytime Reporting tools which allows parents to see how their child is going and what their next learning steps are. This is highly beneficial, especially when children want to engage at home, as it provides parents with the information and tools to support their child’s learning experience at home.”

The challenge: changing the mind shift to a new style of learning

“The biggest challenge we’ve faced on our journey to date has been the mind shift. We have all been to school and we’re all experts when it comes to parent expectations. But this is challenging because we’re asking teachers to straddle two paradigms: a 20th century one and a 21st century one.

Being courageous and knowing future predictions about the workplace our children will reside in is important. We need to abandon some of the soft skills we have ‘always done,’ because it is going to be quite redundant in our children’s future. It is a big challenge bringing parents on board with this type of thinking and the key is to communicate the benefits as strongly as we can.

Another challenge is sometimes our mental models can constrain what is possible in a more open, collaborative environment. As a result, we have done work on brainstorming ways to embrace new ideas and new ways of teaching and learning when those inadequate mental models might get in the way.”

Interested in learning more?

Join Sarah at New Generation Learning New Zealand 2016 where she will further explore:

  • Personalising learning by designing non-prescriptive curriculums tailored to each student’s strength, needs and interests, thus developing self-motivated and self-managed learners 
  • Strategies for creating future-proof spaces that enhance teaching and learning outcomes 
  • Interconnected learning hubs and the benefits of having composite classrooms 
  • Creatively leveraging technology, and its impact on staff, students and parents 
  • Complete incorporation of technology through online platforms to eliminate a paper trail and increase flexibility, connectivity and transparency

For more information download the agenda here

If you found this article interesting, you might like to also check out our recent article with Krisy Ryan, Academic Director at Monash University, which explores the strategies Monash is using to design a new paradigm for learning and the steps they are taking to design multidisciplinary learning spaces that cater for new student learning styles.

Read the article Creating a multidisciplinary learning and teaching building at Monash University here

 

How UWA is Growing International Student Numbers Through Data-driven Marketing

Global student mobility has been steadily growing over the past decade, and according to OECD’s recent findings, shows no signs of declining any time soon.

With the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2015 report forecasting international student mobility to nearly double to 8.5 million students by 2025, it comes as no surprise that  international student recruitment has become central to many universities strategic business plans for the future.

And as the competition to win students continues to intensify around the globe, universities are focusing on new and innovative marketing strategies to recruit and retain high quality international students. Now more than ever before, universities are recognising that students are also customers and the need to provide excellence customer experience across the student lifecycle.

According to Kent Anderson, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Community and Engagement), University of Western Australia (UWA), capturing a holistic view of the student lifecycle can have big benefits when it comes to international student recruitment – and the key to achieving it is data.

“One of the driving principals of UWA’s international marketing and recruitment strategy is that all decisions should be data informed. All of our decisions are based on the data we have,” he says.

Over the past two years Kent and his team at UWA have been refining their international student recruitment strategy to ensure improved ROI from their efforts. Through a focus on student insights, digital marketing and a future focused outlook, UWA is aiming to boost international student numbers from 20 per cent  of the student body, to 30 per cent over the coming years.

Ahead of International Student Recruitment and Marketing 2016, Kent shares the core elements of UWA’s international student recruitment and marketing strategy and how they are capturing and using student insights to drive an exceptional student experience, and in turn, boost international student numbers across their campus.

Attracting international students to UWA: the essentials

“The University of Western Australia (UWA) has a long tradition of internationalism and attracting international students, but for the last 15 years we had a capped the total number of international students we could enrol at 15 per cent.

These insights are part on an exclusive article with Kent Anderson, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Western Australia. Download the report here, to learn more about:

  • Attracting international students
  • Capturing student insights to boost student numbers
  • Engaging students on digital platforms
  • UWA’s proven tips for success

For more information about our International Student Recruitment & Marketing Conference 2016 download the brochure. The event brings together 20 influential speakers from across higher education and explores:

  • Strategies to improve commencement rates
  • Forming key relationships and Maintaining Partnerships
  • Reputation Management and Building a Cohesive Australian Brand
  • Leveraging social media trends to engage international students with Digital Marketing
  • Data Analytics and Data Mapping – evaluating industry data to tap into new markets and drive growth

7 strategies universities can use to DESIGN & DEVELOP INNOVATIVE LEARNING SPACES

Over the past decade there has been a huge shift in approach to the design of learning spaces in higher education. As technology continues to advance with the rapid pace of change, so too are student demands and expectations when it comes to learning.

As a result, universities are looking to new innovative ways of teaching, with a big focus on linking pedagogy to learning space design, and how technology can best be utilised in these spaces to improve student engagement and learning outcomes.

Ahead of New Generation Learning New Zealand 2016, we take a look at 7 key strategies universities and schools across Australia and New Zealand are using to design innovative learning spaces to remain relevant to the digital student.

1 Establish a unique learning environment
Swinburne University of Technology is one university which is seeing its students benefit from a space developed and designed specifically for interactive online learning to drive better student learning outcomes.

Four years ago the University and online employment giant SEEK, established Online Education Services (OES) to create engaging online learning experiences for students.

OES’ first endeavor is Swinburne Online, which provides online degrees and postgraduate qualifications for Swinburne students, transforming teacher led units to suit an online environment.

According to Dr. Jay Cohen, Learning Design Manager, OES, while Swinburne has had a big focus on digital learning delivery in the higher education space for some time now, the key to success has been creating a unique learning environment for students and staff.

“There are a few elements that make our approach unique. The first is our student-centric approach which underpins the support services we provide from orientation to graduation for our students.

“We have a thorough orientation for students, seven-day support services, on-demand assignment assistance and tutoring services as well as a bespoke social network platform called ‘Connect,’ which we use to keep students connected to the broader student and staff community,” he says.

Essentially, OES is taking on-campus content and trying to fit it into an online environment – which Jay says has not come without challenges.

“What we are finding, is that what works on campus may not necessarily work in an online environment.

If you’re building an online learning space from scratch, it is actually a completely different design from a classroom based design.

Feeding classroom based content into an online environment does create challenges, because elements of design that are in the campus don’t rolling over into an online environment.

Designing and building an online learning space is not about transferring what you are doing on campus to online – it doesn’t work that simply.

For example, in a traditional university environment a lecture might run somewhere between 80 and 110 slides per lecture. But we can’t put Power Point slides in an online environment. So we have to think in a completely different way when it comes to designing content, as well as assessments – particularly when it comes to group work.

Group activities or group assessments in a classroom environments means students can go and sit at a table and discuss and collaborate in person. In the online environment, there is no classroom which makes it significantly more difficult to facilitate collaborative learning,” he explains.

In order to overcome such challenges, Jay and his team have focused on integrating new and innovative technologies to provide a more collaborative and innovative learning experience for students.

“We have had to reimagine what it means to collaborate in order to foster an engaged online learning community through the use of video, audio and other technological resources, which has created an interactive environment,” he says.

These insights are part of an exclusive report with seven leading universities from Australia and New Zealand. The report delves into new generation learning spaces and explores blending the vitual with the physical, future-proofing learning spaces, catering to different learning and teaching styles and the use of data analytics in creating personalised learning spaces.

For more information on our New Generation Learning New Zealand 2016 event please download the brochure. The even brings together over 20 speakers and leading innovators and explores key considerations relevant to ensuring a pedagogically receptive and innovative campus for 21st Century learners. 

Driving Operational Efficiency Through Shared Services Transformation at Swinburne University

In this video interview, Joanne Austin, Former Faculty General Manager Business and Law at Swinburne University, explores the core elements of Swinburne University’s services transformation journey to date and the measures other universities can adopt to ensure and enhance operational efficiency.

Interested in learning more? Download the exclusive powerpoint presentation by Joanne Austin from Higher Education Services Transformation 2015 where she explores;

  • Having a clear understanding of shared services and centralised operating models.
  • Integrating technologies to support teaching and enhance the student experience.
  • Exploring and adopting measures to enhance universities operating efficiency.

For more information about our Higher Education Shared Services 2016 event download the brochure. The event will bring together over 20 speakers and innovators and cover topics such as;

  • Selecting the appropriate operating structures to reduce operational costs and enhance value of university support services.
  • Engaging stakeholder throughout the transformation process for continuous improvement and smoother transition.
  • Redesigning administrative functions and structures for higher quality student experience.