Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Is Your Learning Space Student Friendly?

Those who know me well are aware of my passion for Fresno State Football. Much of my life has been spent at Bulldog Stadium. Over the past decade, the atmosphere at Bulldog Stadium has paled in comparison to the glory days of the 1980s through the early part of this century. The stadium was usually packed and the crowd was electric. Lately, it's been a pathetic sight to see countless rows of empty bleachers. To make matters worse, the last two seasons have been two of the most successful in school history, yet the fans still aren't turning up.

As we embark on a new school year, I invite you to reflect upon your learning space and how it truly meets the needs of the modern student. Is your space designed for maximum teacher comfort and efficiency or is it designed for that of the students? Is the seating flexible? Are the walls stagnant? Do kids walk in and marvel at the possibilities each day? These questions have guided me in my design of learning spaces. My Google Innovator Project, the Cardinal Innovation Center, is meant to be a model, student-centered learning space. It was designed with the needs of the modern student in mind. Click here for a quick tour.

In the case of Bulldog Stadium, fans complain about the inconvenient locations of restrooms and concession stands. With no tunnels, those sitting in the best seats closest to the field must scale approximately 100 steps to get to the top to access restrooms and concessions. In the Central Valley heat, early in the season, this will definitely make for an uncomfortable fan experience.

Sitting near the field makes for long walk up stairs to get to the restroom or concession stand.
Millenials and younger generations enjoy interacting with the game differently than traditional, older fans. They enjoy following the game stats on their favorite sports apps. They enjoy posting pictures of themselves and friends to social media from inside the stadium. These things are problematic as cellphone reception is extremely poor when 40,000 people are jam-packed into the stadium. The stadium does provide free WiFi, but it isn't a great signal and the bandwidth cannot handle the traffic.

The current state of affairs for fans at Bulldog Stadium, for me, serves a reminder for classrooms and learning space design. Is your classroom designed with your end users', students, needs in mind? Are moving around and accessing learning materials as inconvenient as the restrooms and concessions at Bulldog Stadium? Are you maximizing the use of technology in your room or is it token, surface level like Bulldog Stadium?

These are great questions for reflection. If you feel your learning space is trending towards the current state of Bulldog Stadium at all, contact you friendly, neighborhood tech coach for tips. Giving students a great learning environment is vital to maximizing pedagogy. Without a learning environment that meets the end users' needs, your great lessons and pedagogy will struggle to reach a large audience like the historically successful Fresno State Football Teams of the past two seasons.

Need ideas for improving the "student-centeredness" of your learning space, contact me at goljuarez14@gmail.com or visit cardinalinnovationcenter.org.

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