Best practice examples of 360 degree learning.

For 360 degree learning to be delivered effectively, it requires 360 degree learning spaces, spaces that support the teacher and student in this more engaged and dynamic method of teaching.

Its premise is that the environment should be used differently to promote collaboration and flexibility through a greater number of stimuli and opportunities to spark creativity and independent thinking. These spaces enable students to have a more personalised learning experience, where ideas can be generated and shared and once hard-to-understand concepts can be brought to life.

For the last 10 years, there have been numerous examples of schools, colleges and universities at the forefront of 360 degree learning adoption. America is a perfect example, with eminent university Harvard Business School developing The Hive to support its move to a more collaborative and participatory style of learning. This round learning environment has brought teamwork, flexibility and interaction into its previously traditional teaching spaces and sees lecturers forfeit their podiums to move in and amongst the students. Talking to Harvard Business School’s Alumni Website, MBA Program Chair Professor Youngme Moon said, “We’re trying to encourage a very different kind of pedagogy, in which the stakes are even higher for the students. That means extensive and intensive classroom interaction among students and faculty alike.”

Many schools in the UK have moved to this model too, including St Margaret’s School in Liverpool, a pioneer of the 360 degree flexible classroom, and Glynwdor University in Wales. Both use flexible teaching spaces complete with moveable furniture and integrated technology to really pique the interest and engagement of their students.

St Margaret’s School installed a circular classroom in 2005 as part of a trial with the UK Design Council. Pupil Phillip Harper studied maths in the space and is one of countless students to sing its praises. He said, “It is much better than other classrooms: the chairs are better, you can spin around and see the teacher. We get the boards down all the time and work together. Before, we would work more on our own in maths. This has made maths much more fun that it used to be.”

Most recently, the VUC Syd College in Denmark has set about helping to re-engage many of the country’s 15-to-29-year-olds who aren’t in education or employment. The college has done this by reinventing the appearance of classrooms, using igloo shaped rooms and glass boxes with interactive screens to create environments that are more relaxed and centred on practical application instead of instruction-based learning.

So, educators are recognizing the need to take learning beyond the confines of the traditional classroom. Those at the forefront of education are challenging the idea of what is useable space, making unexpected buildings, environments and surfaces stimulate, excite and engage.

360 degree learning provides a breath of fresh air and an opportunity for much more memorable and immersive learning. There is no shortage of best practice examples of where educators have embraced 360 degree learning for fantastic effect. The only question left is: will your establishment be next?

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