Learning Space Insights
The following insights result from ongoing testing of new approaches to learning spaces and are not intended to be prescriptive. We hope each insight causes you to consider new approaches to learning space design. As our research continues, we look forward to a continued dialogue on each of the following insights, which will lead to discovery of new ideas for learning space design.

Enhance Collaboration
Idea: Traditional classroom design often limits engagement (due to rows, etc.). Space should enable and encourage student and faculty engagement, as well as student-tostudent interaction.

Foster Engagement
Idea: Spaces that encourage engagement remove barriers, get faculty out from behind the traditional lectern, and allow them to move freely around the space.

Let Learning Happen Everywhere
Idea: Consider adding “lingering” spaces that connect faculty and students outside scheduled learning spaces.

Flex to Meet More Needs
Idea: Furnishings selected with flexibility in mind allow spaces to be used in different ways. Consider a simple kit of furniture parts that will allow you multiple layouts and space options.

Make Technology Work for You
Idea: Technology should serve your teaching and learning needs and not dictate how, where, or when teaching or learning happens.

Provide Supportive Choices
Idea: Whether you spend 50 minutes or several hours in a learning environment, the need for comfort and variety is clear. Learning space design needs to offer options that support variety and comfort—for both faculty and students.

Blur the Lines Between Learning and Work
Idea: Consider spaces that mirror corporate spaces and support the collaboration and engagement skills vital to post-graduation success.

Michigan district fires all teachers, closes every school — from takepart.com by Suzi Parker
A funding crisis caused the Buena Vista School District to close its schools for the rest of the year—and perhaps permanently.


From DSC:
This is not right.

If the State of Michigan can’t resolve this…
I hope that a corporation or two — or a major philanthropist or two — steps in here to insure that all these students have Internet access. Then provide/allow these students to go online.  Let these students take any class that they want to — and help them enjoy learning as much as possible. They will learn things along the way — without even knowing that they are learning (along the lines of what Sugata Mitra has been saying).

Are there issues with this idea? You bet. I can think of several off the top of my head:

  • Parents out at work, kids at home…
  • Online learning works best with disciplined students…
  • The students may take courses that are not STEM-related
    (However, if they are interested in another discipline or topic, these things could be brought into their learning along the way.)
  • The students may not take courses related to the Common Core standards
    (However, this is not a big concern for me; as pounding everyone into a similar “mold” goes against the reality that each of us is different.  We each have different gifts, skills, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, passions, interests, and preferences.)

But we’ve let these kids down — and make no mistake, we will all pay the price for this type of thing — one way or another. We need to help these kids discover the joy of learning…before it’s too late. 







Calvin College professor: 18 reasons to save art education in elementary schools — from mlive.com by Jo-Ann VanReeuwyk


Jo-Ann VanReeuwyk holds a piece of art she created called “Sheath, ”
which she made from grapevine and is displaying during a
Calvin Symposium on Worship in 2010.
Paul Newby II | MLive.com


From DSC:
A valuable list of contributions that we receive/experience from the arts!!! Here are 5 of them:

  1. To participate in the arts is to be fully human.
  2. Art is a way of knowing and a form of communication.
  3. The arts teach problem-solving, risk-taking, creative thinking, collaborative thinking, innovative thinking. Indeed all of the higher level thinking skills.
  4. Art helps form multiple perspectives. It gives voice. It helps us identify and express issues that are global, common to all people groups.
  5. The arts emphasize value.



(Ok, a little early, but now that Michigan has experienced some warmer weather, I’m game!)

Case study: Flipped classrooms work for students. Period. — from knowledgestarblog.wordpress.com by David Grebow and Greg Green, principal at Clintondale High School in Clinton Township, Michigan.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

I’m a principal at Clintondale High, a financially challenged school near Detroit. I’m in charge of doing my best to make sure that Clintondale students get the best education possible when they walk through our doors.

There are constant hurdles to making this happen. We are a school of choice, so not all students come in with the same skill levels in reading, math, science or other subjects. Almost 75% of our students receive free or reduced-price lunch because of today’s economic climate, and a large part of our student population commutes from Detroit, which often times takes an hour or longer, especially if the bus is late.

Every year, our failure rates have been through the roof.  The students weren’t paying attention, they weren’t doing their homework, they were being disruptive, or they weren’t coming to school at all. Sadly, these issues are not that uncommon, particularly in this economic climate, where the percentage of students who fall into the poverty category is increasing by the day.

To watch this happen every day, where it is your responsibility to try to provide the very best you can for the students, is beyond frustrating. It’s heartbreaking.

Our staff agreed that our failure rates were not good. But how do you go about addressing these issues with no money, no additional resources and no clear solution from the experts who already know the system is broken?

How do you get your staff on board with change you want to implement, but no one else has ever tried it on a mass scale? How do you get your students excited about learning when they’ve never shown much interest before?

You flip it. Here’s how it works…


From DSC:

Thanks Techsmith for helping out here. You demonstrated that there can be a higher calling for business — helping out our fellow mankind with tangible/concrete/immediate assistance.



Gamification of Education

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media




Also see:

  • MSU-developed video game aims to increase financial literacy — from news.MSU.edu

    EAST LANSING, Mich. — A new video game designed to teach young people the ins and outs of finances has been developed by the Michigan State University Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab.Collaborating with the MSU Federal Credit Union, the game, titled “Spartan Villa,” addresses common financial challenges, such as implementing a monthly budget and learning how credit works, by creating a realistic financial system embedded in a fun, low-pressure game world.

    The game introduces players to critical financial concepts through the virtual management of college rental houses, making players responsible for expanding and maintaining their houses by effectively utilizing their finances.

    Paying bills on time, allocating funds to the proper accounts and monitoring monthly spending ultimately allows players to purchase rooms to expand their houses, host social events to attract future tenants, and increase their overall credit scores.



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Why these kids get a free ride to college --= from The New York Times by Ted Fishman



Back in November 2005, when this year’s graduates were in sixth grade, the superintendent of Kalamazoo’s public schools, Janice M. Brown, shocked the community by announcing that unnamed donors were pledging to pay the tuition at Michigan’s public colleges, universities and community colleges for every student who graduated from the district’s high schools. All of a sudden, students who had little hope of higher education saw college in their future. Called the Kalamazoo Promise, the program — blind to family income levels, to pupils’ grades and even to disciplinary and criminal records — would be the most inclusive, most generous scholarship program in America.


Also see:

The Kalamazoo Promise- free college



From DSC:

  • I would like to thank the anonymous donors who created and continue to sustain the Kalamazoo Promise; and to recognize their humility and service to society. They didn’t announce their gifts with trumpets; rather, they quietly gave without wanting to put their names to these enormous, life-changing gifts.  What a great example for many of the nation’s top 1%-5% to follow!  It’s amazing what generous hearts can do.  The LORD knows who did it and continues to do it.


10 best colleges for game-based learning — from bestcollegesonline.com



If you were busy playing Call of Duty and you missed it, July 8 was Video Games Day. While most people’s experience with gaming involves mindless destruction or sports competition, educators have begun to see the value in the medium for helping students learn. While the research is still developing and some professors are still skeptical, these 10 colleges represent your best bets for learning while playing video and other games.

From DSC:
I’m a member of the team working at Calvin College to get online learning implemented for the College.  I’m grateful for — and proud of — our team and what we’ve been able to accomplish thus far.  (BTW, I use the word pride knowingly but carefully.)   My hope/dream/vision is that people from all over the world will be able to get a solid, Christian-based education at a significantly-reduced price!


Calvin Online -- Students and faculty appraise the online classes offered through Calvin's 2012 pilot program.



From CNN and Greg Green:
Flipped classrooms give every student a chance to succeed

It’s no surprise that these issues are happening in our schools. Everyone from politicians to parents admit that our educational system isn’t working, and we’re all screaming for change.  But no one gives advice on what changes are needed to improve education. The time has come to realize that the problem isn’t simply lack of effort or money, but the misalignment of our school structure.

To watch this happen every day, where it is your responsibility to try to provide the very best you can for the students, is beyond frustrating. It’s heartbreaking.

Our staff agreed that our failure rates were not good. But how do you go about addressing these issues with no money, no additional resources and no clear solution from the experts who already know the system is broken?

How do you get your staff on board with change you want to implement, but no one else has ever tried it on a mass scale? How do you get your students excited about learning when they’ve never shown much interest before?

You flip it.  Here’s how it works…

From DSC:
I’d like to send a shout out to my sister, Sue Ellen Christian (Isacksen), who has been working hard on publishing her new book, Overcoming Bias.  Sue Ellen teaches in the Communications Department for Western Michigan University. Congrats sister! I’ll be ordering my copy later today!


Overcoming Bias -- a new textbook for journalism majors by Sue Ellen Christian; published January 2012


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Will your college survive?– from TechCrunch.com by John Katzman



Editor’s note: Guest contributor John Katzman is the founder and CEO of 2tor, an education startup that partners with universities to deliver selective degree programs online to students across the world. Katzman also founded the Princeton Review where he served as president and CEO from 1981-2007.

The Internet will save higher education, but it may kill your alma mater.

Peter Thiel believes smart people don’t need college, and he’s right: There have always been autodidacts who can learn without assistance. Of course, we don’t really need supermarkets and restaurants either; we could all grow and cook our own food.

Yet having professionals help us has always been a cost-benefit decision. What are the costs of a great education, including the opportunity cost of four years of work, and how do these costs balance against the impact of that education on your life?

The Internet is the first technology since the printing press, which could lower the cost of a great education and, in doing so, make that cost-benefit analysis much easier for most students. It could allow American schools to service twice as many students as they do now, and in ways that are both effective and cost-effective. For reasons that will be outlined below, however, it will probably end up doing this with half as many schools. And your school, even if it’s bumper-sticker worthy, might not make the cut.


Evolve or Else

Like any other disruptive transition, the move to online and blended universities will bring tremendous benefit to students—better education in more places at lower tuition. However, these changes will be painful for many schools. Most bookstores and travel agencies found themselves on the wrong side of a steadily growing force; the schools that thrive over the next two decades will do so only because they have carefully harnessed that very same force: the Internet.


Also see:

  • Mary Sue Coleman’s (President of the University of Michigan) Open Letter to President Obama
    Mary Sue Coleman is president of the University of Michigan and chair of the Association of American Universities.
    And yet college is costly – too costly for some families. To meet the myriad needs of students and society, we absolutely must find ways to provide a college education at a cost that is sustainable. President Thomas Jefferson was rightfully adamant that a cornerstone of democracy is education for all, “from the richest to the poorest.”
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Michigan universities, state lawmakers look for ways to bring down price of higher education — from mlive.com by Lindsay Knake | The Saginaw News


5 Michigan colleges to benefit from $6.8 million grant from philanthropic foundation -- from mlive.com by Monica Scott


“We have discovered that structured programs that encourage and guide students in the theological exploration of vocation do indeed help them draw on the wisdom of their religious traditions as they make decisions about their futures and figure out how to lead lives that really matter,” said Craig Dykstra, the Lilly Endowment’s senior vice president for religion.

© 2024 | Daniel Christian