The Intersection of Spatial Practices and Learning Theories

How does spatial practice respond to cutting-edge technologies? How does pedagogy respond to new tools? How does the changing nature of spatial practice affect societies? These questions were part of the theme for the first Nature of Spatial Practices Graduate Student Conference ( this past February. Spatial practice can be defined as the way a built environment is produced. The conference focused on pushing the field of architecture forward through conversations about the changing nature of spatial practice. The keynote speaker at the conference, Dr. Robert Fishman, professor of architecture and urban planning at the University of Michigan, challenged architects to conduct future research that is: 1) interdisciplinary; 2) global; and 3) visual. My interest

How Learning Theory Contributes to the Design of a Learning Space

This coming Wednesday, I will be presenting our initial work on Learning Spaces at the 2013 American Educational Research Association. Below, I provide a description of the presentation. Overview Buildings are designed today based on an understanding of physical requirements (e.g. lighting, crowding), environmental behavior design (Scott-Webber, 2004) and proxemics (Hall, 1959), the theory of how a person uses a space in relation to the culture. The design of learning spaces is more complex. Monahan (2002) explains that learning spaces have a built pedagogy or “architectural embodiment” of learning theories (p. 4). When people enter a learning space, they should understand the contributing learning theories because of how the space is designed. Designers of learning

Teaching Philosophy

My main teaching goal and objective is to teach my students to be adaptive experts as opposed to routine experts. Routine experts “develop a core set of competencies that they apply throughout their lives with greater and greater efficiency” (Bransford et al., 2006, p. 26). Adaptive experts “are much more likely to evolve their core competencies and continually expand the breadth and depth of their expertise as the need arises or as their interests demand” (p. 26). Because of the nature of technology and ever-changing fields of design, learning sciences, and information technology, teachers should be provided with opportunities to become adaptive experts with innovative tools. Below I provide a description of my teaching experiences, my teaching philosophy, and formative/summative assessments that demonstrate my goal of helping students become adaptive experts…

Rethinking Learning Spaces for Large Enrollment Courses

If I were to ask you to close your eyes and imagine a classroom with 120 seats, what would you picture? Chances are you would think of a room designed for a lecture including stadium seating, a podium with a computer and microphone, a whiteboard, and a projection screen. The farthest thing from your mind would be a room holding 13 circular tables with 9 seats at each table. However, that is exactly what the Technology-Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) project at MIT has been using since the early 2000s for physics courses. The TEAL learning space is surrounded by 13 whiteboards and 8 projectors/screens on the walls, providing additional working space. The TEAL learning space

Investigating the Krause Innovation Studio’s Built Pedagogy

The Krause Innovation Studio learning space, located at 201 Chambers Building on the University Park campus of Penn State University, will open in the next two months. The actual date is TBA. Supported by a generous gift from Gay and Bill Krause, the Krause Innovation Studio is a research focused initiative and the learning space will provide faculty with opportunities for researching innovative pedagogy. The learning space will feature collaborative spaces, private meeting rooms, and a state of the art Learn Lab for teaching and learning purposes. Within the Learn Lab, teachers and students will find media:scape furniture from Steelcase which is intended to allow any person in the room to display information from their computer to all or some

The Hyper-Public Learning Space

Last week I attended the 2011 Learning Design Summer Camp at Penn State University and led a small group discussion for the classroom of the future session. Having just attended the Hyper-Public Symposium at Harvard University and written about private and public learning spaces, I facilitated a discussion around the hyper-public learning space. I define hyper-public as complete openness, similar to a person that is followed around by paparazzi. This post provides an overview of the small group discussion and ideas.  Using Laurent Stalder’s notion of thresholds: “when do you begin to be in the building?”, I gave an example of a high threshold: Penn State’s Pattee Library (Slide 2 of Preso below), and low threshold: the Seattle Public

The Future of Pre-Service Teacher Education?

This past week, I participated in the 2011 Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C). Bringing together approximately 2500 people (PreK-12 teachers, technologists, vendors, administrators, and higher education faculty/students) from across Pennsylvania, PETE&C enables important conversations to occur around the use of technology to support the teaching and learning process. One of the most interesting conversations I had the opportunity to engage in was around the topic of pre-service teacher education. Dr. James Bolton (Edinboro University) and Mr. Jarrin Sperry (Conneaut School District) facilitated a session titled Pre-service Teacher Prep – What needs to change? In this session, Bolton and Sperry provided question prompts and allowed everyone to contribute, both in-person, and through a backchannel conversation (once you are

Following a Design-based Research Cycle

In this post, I present an overview of a DBR process using Nelson et al.’s Design-based Research Strategies for Developing a Scientific Inquiry Curriculum in a Multi-User Virtual Environment and explain the issues and implications with the work. Image from Investigating the Impact of Individualized, Reflective Guidance on Student Learning in an Educational Multi-User Virtual Environment by Brian Nelson © 2006. Social and historical context and Author Info.: Nelson, Ketelhut, Clarke, and Bowman worked with Dede at Harvard on the River City Project, which was funded by the National Science Foundation. Additional information about the authors can be found here. In his article on DBR, Dede (2004) suggests that the DBR community should engage in

Distinguishing between Beginners & Experts

When differentiating between the needs of beginners and experts, it is useful to discuss command vectors and working sets. A working set is a “subset of commands and features” that a perpetual intermediate would memorize (Cooper et al., 2007, p. 552). Command vectors “are distinct techniques” through which users “issue instructions to the program” (2007, p. 551). Some examples are drop-down menus, toolbar controls, and pop-up menus. Good programs provide “multiple command vectors” where functions can be performed by going to any number of command vectors depending on the user’s ability (2007, p. 551). Immediate vectors allow for instant function while pedagogic vectors provide intermediate steps. A pedagogic vector is filled with world information, and

Wenger's Constellations

“It was just another night with the sun set and the moon rise not so far behind.  To give us just enough light to lay down underneath the stars.  Listen to papa’s translations of the stories across the sky.  We drew our own constellations.” -Jack Johnson Upon reading Chapter 5 and Coda 1 of Etienne Wenger’s “Communities of Practice,” I am finally able to say the readings are making sense and I can answer a lot of the questions that I had previously about communities of practice.  Wenger introduces Constellations of Practice.  These constellations are groupings of objects, in this case individual communities of practice.  One of the questions I have had up to this