Learning Spaces #3 - The Seven Spaces

Try thinking about technology and physical space through these filters

Avoid jargon when you're talking about physical space or technology changes in your school - find a common language to help widen horizons.

The Why

The Seven Spaces provide a common language that does not make mention of architectural or technological concepts, is totally accessible and lets more members of the school community take part in building a new school or new ways of learning. When the time comes for schools to rethink their physical space or technology deployment, teachers, leaders and students can fall into a trap: rather than thinking about what they know about most (teaching, leading learning and learning for themselves), consultants and architects will attempt to 'teach' them how to 'speak architect' or technology geek talk. The result is that too many educators and learners end up with technology and physical space that is great for teaching the old way, painful for teaching in different styles and which locks learners into a groove for many years to come. The Seven Spaces are changing that.

The How

Matt Locke originally came up with the concept of the Six Spaces of technology. The NoTosh team added a seventh, Data Spaces, and have played around with how education could harness these spaces, and the various transgressions between them, for learning.

With MLC School Sydney, we used a design thinking process to explore how learning happens now through student and staff observations, sketches, recordings and learning walks. Using the outcomes of that initial immersion, along with input from NoTosh on the robust research showing what makes for great learning, we were better informed as to what learning might look like in the future for the school. We then worked alongside staff, leadership and students, using the Seven Spaces language, to reconfigure the plans for their new multi-million dollar campus. The Seven Spaces took away the jargon previous conversations had, and opened the team's eyes to new ideas that would otherwise have remained untouched.

Your Next Steps

Ewan McIntosh narrates some examples in each of the seven spaces of technology and physical space

  • Take a look at the Seven Spaces examples in Ewan's 15-minute clip, above.
  • Get some more inspiration on each space in Ewan's blog post, with some non-school and school examples.
  • Share links with your colleagues - ask them to spend 15 minutes on either the video or blog post to get something common to base their thinking on.
  • Set aside 30 minutes of your next team planning session to discuss how you could include three or more spaces in your next planned lesson.
  • Set aside a morning of your next staff development day to talk about how your current physical or technological 'space' is helping or holding back learning, and work out some cheap, pragmatic next steps.
Ewan McIntosh
March 14, 2013