HOW DO WE CAPTURE THE SPIRIT OF OPEN, NETWORKED, AND PARTICIPATORY COMMUNITIES IN OUR LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS?
In a classroom setting it is very important that those involved, learners and educators, feel welcomed, safe, appreciated and intrigued by their environment and those who are a part of it. Each of these components contribute to the well-being of a classroom. A lack of one of these can result in a negative experience, in my opinion. So now it is time to talk about how to make a learning environment such as a classroom welcoming and safe.
When discussing the feeling of being welcomed into a classroom and feeling safe we are talking about the environment both physically constructed and socially constructed. Visually a welcome classroom is bright and warm in colors. There is nothing and shows favoritism of any person, class, gender, race or religion. In a classroom, the works of learners are proudly displayed for all to see. The classroom arrangement is focused around groupings that allows learners to work with smaller groups to encourage them participate with few people and eventually feel open enough to participate in large group activities. It is important to have learners feel safe and comfortable in the class so that they are willing to grow as individuals and take charge of their own learning.
As learners feel safe and welcomed in the classroom, they also need to feel that their thought and opinions matter. This is very important at a young age as we see self-esteem issue arise from learners feeling unappreciated by their peers. By getting to know your learners and interacting with them on a daily basis, you help foster positive thoughts and feelings which can contribute to an increased self-esteem development. By drawing attentions to the strengths that each learner has gives them an opportunity to showcase their abilities and what they are proud of. Every learner is capable of amazing things. As we know, not everyone can do the same things, henceforth why we are humans and not clones.
One of the downsides of differences in a classroom is that a single set way to work, learn or interact with others may not be the best fit for all of the learners. For this reason there are problems with learners feeling under engaged as they find the material too easy or too difficult. Differentiated instruction was created for this reason. To ensure the success for all learners, it is important to engage and give opportunity for all to participate.
Now let’s talk how technology can help.
In a classroom, technology is a great way to promote differentiated instruction by allowing learners to use their individuals strengths to help guide their learning. A variety of technological tools such as laptops, tablets, smart boards etc. can be used along with applications that allow learners to formulate their own thoughts and opinions about a particular topic. This can be used to help evaluate learner’s knowledge. Technology has made differentiated instruction a lot easier to accomplish as tools have been created and released to help learners display their knowledge in many formats. Technology gives learners the power to recognize what their strength are and be proud of what they can do or the knowledge they have.
Featured Image from Creativecommons.org