Bending the Rules of Time and Space

October 31, 2016

Contributor: 
Katherine Anderson
Monday, October 31, 2016 - 9:30am

Education has, for the most part, been beholden to the rules and regulations of a factory-model classroom since the 19th century. This traditional educational model, premised on lawfulness and orderliness, set stringent standards on when, where, and how students were educated in public schools and beyond. 

With the advent of the computer age came a chance to break free from this limiting tradition. Digital resources and technologies have now ushered in innovative learning possibilities. Schools have begun to move away from the traditional factory-model classroom by altering the rules of time and space

The most innovative schools go well beyond simply adding technology to existing classrooms by using the capabilities of digital resources and online communications to change when and where students learn. The synergy of newly designed spaces and creative uses of time allows teachers and schools to take full advantage of all that educational technology has to offer. These changes to the basic infrastructure of learning accommodate new and improved approaches to various instructional strategies that can be implemented within existing spatial and temporal limitations, including:

  • Small-group instruction for students
  • Team teaching and block schedules
  • Professional learning for teachers
  • Redesigned curriculum
  • Project-based learning
  • Personalized learning

In the process of re-envisioning instruction, educators often find freeing teachers and students from such constraints allows instruction to flourish. The idea is conceptually simple: by releasing students and teachers from traditional schedules, students can work at their own pace and have some degree of choice over what, when, and how they are learning. Teachers can more easily adjust to the changing needs of individual students and the class as a whole. By reconfiguring schools so they are no longer dominated by classrooms full of desks aligned in rows, leaders encourage individual work; collaborative group work; and a different, more personal role for the teacher.

These concepts may be simple in theory, but what do they look like in practice?

Children studying with computers and writing on white board

The Practice of Time and Space

In a new white paper, “How Top Performing Blended Learning Programs Use Time and Space Effectively,” Evergreen Education Group conducts in-depth analysis of blended learning programs at three schools: Poudre School District Global Academy is featured for its creative use of the school day schedule; Springs Studio for Academic Excellence is featured for its creative use of space; and Bend-La Pine Schools’ Summit High School is featured for its transformation from a traditional school into an innovative blended learning program by implementing small but impactful changes.

Although these schools have many differences, researchers found three common characteristics:

  • The leaders and teachers at these schools are not afraid to rethink what school can look like and what practices will work best for their students.
     
  • The three schools use online curriculum, which frees teachers from being the main source of instruction and allows them to try more alternative teaching methods like team teaching, block scheduling, personalized learning, project-based learning, and more.
     
  • Each of the schools embraces change and realizes transformation is a process. By adopting a growth mindset, which they hope students will also welcome, the schools and their leadership were able to overcome any initial issues and are now reaping the rewards of blended learning.

To learn more about the practice of time and space at these three innovative schools, read the complete white paper here

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