A group learning space is a socially interactive space shared by a group of people. Here they may learn off each other and with each other sharing ideas in a discussed manner. Group learning spaces are generally unstructured comfortable areas where learners can collaboratively come together to participate in a learning experience. The space should include access to resources (Dean, 2001) including learning technologies as well as being able to form an enthused creativeness within the group as a whole. Group learning spaces should be aesthetically pleasing in order to stimulate learners to work collaboratively and easily blend in to participating roles of discussion. Lighting in a group working space is important. It may have an affect on altering the mood of the students and or teachers working together. Figure 1 and Figure 2 displays collaborative working areas in the library of Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia. This area of the library exhibits a comfortable and relaxed feel as it has dimmed lighting compared to the individual working spaces surrounding that zone. Figure 1 facilitates three separate spaces catering for at least three small groups working side by side. Figure 3, displays a more structured environment which places the learners immediately on task by the placement and arrangement of seating in a ’round-table discussion’ format.
Curriculum & Pedagogy
Many schools today are fostering an open planned learning environment. This environment facilitates various educational zones that work in a collaborative format. These types of classes are hosted by more than one teacher allowing for a deeper teaching effort in a communal mode. Open planned learning encourages group and collaborative work as it does not provide for much individual work to occur. Spaces such as these devour in shared research and investigation and often take on a more inquiry based teaching/learning style. Inquiry based learning promotes a range of ideas and intellect to be dispersed as there is such an intense allowance of freedom to discover collaboratively and cooperatively. The curriculum and pedagogy in a space like so needs to be constantly sort through in order to teach the correct content in an inquiry based manner. Much attention to subject matter is also needed to ensure teachers are creating an environment that meets the pedagogical needs and standards of the curriculum.
Teachers & Students
Within the context of the classroom, teachers have a challenging duty in a group learning space. They need to be constantly aware of the implications of such a space and monitor it accordingly. Behaviour management is a great issue in group learning spaces and actions need to be taken to ensure that students stay intrigued and on topic. Contemporary group learning spaces need to laid out and planned accordingly to ensure students benefit from this teaching and learning arrangement. Teachers also have a challenging task of collaborating with various other teachers in such an open space (The Contemporary Teacher, 2013). Educators generally need to teach together in group learning spaces so collaborative work on their behalf is also significantly required in order to present authoritative content to the entire student body.
Many students are fond of group learning. It can be seen as an effective way to engage and interact with other peers whilst learning from various viewpoints and off neighbourly companions. Collaborative learning provides opportunities for students to grasp on different learning styles and abilities that surround them. Yet, a major concern with students being placed in a group learning situation is distraction, and negative peer interaction. Students need to embrace their skills in individual learning and place them in a group context (The Contemporary Teacher, 2013). Some children may struggle in doing so as they may feel intimidated by the skills and academics of other peers in their groups. In all instances, there may also be one student taking reigns of the work and setting tasks for other students. Teachers need to monitor such happenings and ensure that all learning and tasks are distributed equally within the group at hand.
- Dean, J. (2001). Organising Learning in the Primary School Classroom. (3rd ed.) RoutledgeFalmer: Abingdon, Oxon.
- The Contemporary Teacher. (2013). Open Plan. Retrieved from: http://www.thecontemporaryteacher.global2.vic.edu.au/open-plan/