Modern learning environments (MLE) are a hot topic in New Zealand as more of our schools’ transition to the new method of teaching. Also referred to as open plan classrooms, these are not a new idea.
Open plan classrooms were used in the 1970’s and 1980’s and were usually two classrooms with the wall between them removed.
Our new Modern Learning Environments are different to previous open-plan classrooms. While two or more classes share the one space, it is not just a rectangular open room. There are “break-out areas,” which are small spaces that children can work in on their own or in groups. There is a choice of seating: beanbags, desks and chairs, stools, couches, groups of desks, or even the floor if the child likes.
MLEs Are Not Just About Architecture
It’s a whole new way of teaching, thinking about learning, and a mindset change for the teacher, the kids, and the parents.
The big advantage of MLEs is flexibility. Students can work in big or small groups, or independently if they prefer. Teachers can adjust their style to work in their areas of strengths, and be paired with a teached that complements their style. An artistic teacher can be paired with a logical, traditional teacher. This allows kids an opportunity to gravitate towards the teacher they feel best connected with. This helps with motivation, as well as matching learning and teaching styles of the children and teachers.
The disadvantage of a large space is the potential for noise, which can be distracting or overwhelming for some children. Also, teachers have less chance to make that one-on-one connection with children.
Do You Have Concerns About Modern Learning Environments In Your School?
If you have concerns that your child is not coping or getting “lost in the crowd”, directly raise the issue with the teachers. There is research underway into the effectiveness of MLEs, but in the meantime, you and your child’s feedback is the best way to help schools.