How to create an effective learning environment for students
What do students look for in a learning environment? Are they even aware that they are looking for certain attributes? Is it subconscious? We believe that the answer lies in the way we think, or rather, in support of the way we think. For far too long, traditional classrooms have tried to teach us all to think the same way. Now, the students are revolting against this concept.
In 2022 and beyond, learning environments will promote innovative thinking, expand capabilities and capacities, and develop strategies to become creative and critical simultaneously. Interaction, personalisation, and adaptation will engage the new generation of learners. So, how do we begin to address a new set of learning needs? Here are five ideas.
Distance learning isn’t a new concept, but it’s something that received a lot of positive attention, interaction, and certainly development during the pandemic.
2020 saw hundreds of millions of people open their laptops or phones and become e-learners, with hundreds of thousands of educational institutions quickly adapting. For many, this change was uncomfortable and isolating, so it was on the part of the educators and their facilities to create portals, technologies, and methods that didn’t alienate or exclude their students.
Here’s how they were able to create an effective learning environment for students in such a short time:
- Giving students more autonomy over their education thanks to pre-recorded classes, flexi-studying, better scheduling, and platforms that allow work to be done and submitted digitally
- The ability to repeat learning and easily go over the material makes private study much easier, improving knowledge retention and results
- The removal of distractions or negative influences that might occur in the classroom, which is perfect for students who lack focus or confidence, as they are more likely to stay involved and engage from the safety and relative peace of their home
- Accessibility and ease of study for those with a long commute or other personal responsibilities
- Far more educational possibilities open up, giving students the chance to expand their knowledge in a way that wasn’t possible in the rigid confines of a traditional education
- Feedback became faster, more direct, and less awkward or confrontational, allowing many students to take action on it
In the section above we vouched for E-learning, and now we are going to tone it down a notch and explain why a combination of E-learning and classroom learning is a great balance. In fact, more than a balance, it’s the natural evolution of education, as schools, colleges, and universities begin to reopen and return to full capacity and (relative) normality.
What we love about blended learning is that it refuses to fit into any mould or bracket. By nature, it is absolutely diverse, malleable, and unique to every single application. It gives students a chance to transform their education, to develop personally in new ways, and to meet learning outcomes from many new angles. The ‘how’ is left to the educator and their facility to decide.
Ultimately, however, it is the symbiosis of classrooms and E-learning platforms being used to benefit one another. It is not the use of digital tools to aid traditional learning, and it is not the reverse of that either. It is a healthy relationship between teaching and tech, between information and instruction, between inclusion and engagement. With blended learning, nobody should ever be left behind.
Supportive learning culture
A teacher or educator fills many roles. They are an ambassador for the facility, a surrogate parent for students who need extra emotional support, a counsellor for those who need heartfelt encouragement, an inspirer for those who are disengaged, and an innovator to bring new ideas to life in the minds of their learners. All of these things share one thing in common - support.
A supportive learning culture provides different kinds of assistance, it is inclusive, it offers mentorship, and it encourages open discussion without judgement or punishment. If these things can be achieved, everyone benefits, and not just in a hierarchical structure. Support is circular and works at all levels, with learners helping learners, educators helping educators, and everything in between.
Addressing student needs and providing feedback
Students have many needs that are often overlooked. Beyond the need to get good grades in order to fulfil the future path they envision for themselves, they also need to have fun, feel that they belong, and find love, friendship, and fulfilment along the way. Whilst an educator cannot always fulfil these needs, they should acknowledge them and accommodate them where possible.
In fact, recognizing a student’s needs and intrinsic motivations as an individual will make for better and more actionable feedback. Why? Well, they are being heard, they are being developed, and they are being respected by their peers. Their progress is being seen and through the feedback loop, they can have a direct impact on where it goes next.
An effective learning environment is one that fully understands its students and how to talk to them, guide them, and show them how to improve on their weak points.
Interactive Games & Activities
Where StratX really understands effective learning environments for students is when it comes to bringing interactive technology and business simulations into the classroom or online learning experience.
We present opportunities to think critically, collaborate, compete, and develop, with learners assuming different roles and responsibilities each time they play. Through these exercises, participants typically learn more introspectively than any feedback might tell them, as they are forced to make decisions and learn the consequences in real-time.
Games don’t always have to be competitive though, social skills might be even more important than winning. Sometimes working as a team to reach a shared objective helps develop cooperative learning behaviours that are hard to come by through other activities.
Ultimately, games and simulations are going to be a vital tool in connecting with a new generation of learners that have grown up surrounded by dynamic technology. This will increase attendance, engagement, and retention where attention spans may be short.
Each of these five methods supports personal growth and development, embracing intelligence and emotional needs together. That simplification may be the key to creating an effective learning environment - the consideration of the heart and mind and their different needs.