What is 360 degree learning?

For generations teaching environments have been largely the same. Teachers lectured from the front of the room, delivering concepts while children looked on in organised rows. This passive and formal approach has been the mainstay of western education for decades, but in the last 10 years the focus has started to shift. Now words such as engagement, inspiring, collaborative, immersive and experiential are used in the context of learning.

The proliferation of mobile technology has played a significant role here, opening our eyes to new ways to acquire, assimilate and share knowledge, removing the shackles of fixed place learning and creating new tools to excite and engage students. It’s perhaps not surprising then that classrooms are evolving. They look different, feel different and use different tools.

The old fashioned image, of the teacher presenting from the front of the class to a passive audience, is being replaced. Modern educators are more akin to conductors, helping their orchestra to understand, feel and deliver the music, finding ways to bring it to life, to add light and shade, to make them sound harmonious as individuals and together. Modern education is changing and 360 degree learning is at its heart.

A study from 2000 showed that retention of information was heightened dramatically when it used discussion (50%), practical exercise (70%) and peer-to-peer teaching (80%) – compared with just 5% from traditional lecture-based teaching. Educators and students are fast realising the benefits of more collaborative and immersive learning, yet teaching spaces within schools and colleges have not caught up. 360 degree learning needs 360 degree learning spaces.

360 degree learning is the idea that all aspects of our surroundings and experiences impact on how we learn. It encompasses the environments students occupy and the way space is used, how teachers plan and deliver lessons and the way in which students engage with the subject and their fellow learners. A breath of fresh air for educators and students alike, 360 degree learning provides an opportunity for much more memorable and immersive learning and is quite different to the experience most of us had as students.

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.

360 degree learning takes education beyond lectures and considers experiences, feelings, ideas, movement and senses. This method is more participatory and discussion-led, it involves group work as well as independent study, it embraces technology in all its guises and it requires flexibility of people and space. 360 degree learning uses the environment as an educational tool.

Flexibility, adaptability and variety in teaching styles and environments are needed if we are to deliver students with the very highest levels of aptitude and attainment. A seismic step change in the way education is delivered, 360 degree learning has also heralded a change in the way we design and occupy school buildings.

It’s made creative, inspiring, motivating, flexible and tech-ready environments vital to learning.

To find out more about the education revolution, download our whitepaper When Education and the Workplace Collide, which is full of guidance and advice:

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