Elements of an effective learning environment.
How can individuals and companies stay ahead of the curve when the traditional way of learning feels mismatched with the pace and needs of the real world?
It’s an interesting question and one that led us to form Hyper Island. It’s when we saw the opportunity to build a new institution of professional learning that empowered individuals to be flexible in anticipating and dealing with change.
Recently, we were listed as one of the schools in CNN’s article that highlighted nine of the most interesting schools around the world. It started a conversation with our team about the components of a healthy learning environment.
Here are some of our thoughts.
Across our schools, we all agree that a creative space is a vital component. But, what makes a creative space? “Within learning spaces, you need three areas. Firstly, an area for loud ideas creation, an energizing area where the atmosphere can electrify in a second. Secondly, a production area that is noisy with lots of buzz, but more consistent. And thirdly, a quiet, reflective area to recharge, have some thinking space. For some of the introverts in us, it’s an area to gain energy.” – David McCall – Managing Director, [Hyper Island UK].
Creativity flows when we feel comfortable in our surroundings, and in creating a comfortable space we have to consider diverse student tastes. “It’s about freedom. Both physically and mentally. Permission to create the space and make it your own. That might be through music, wall art, photography or simply where and when you eat. Permission to ask “why” time and time again and always feel your voice is heard.” – Lauren Currie – Industry Practitioner.
Diverse personalities soak up the energy from their surroundings. “It should be a space where you can dance, shout, create a storm, feel secure in change, but also one that can embrace quiet contemplation, serious debate and rigorous research” – Tash Willcocks, Programme Leader, [MA Digital Media Management].
And finally, creativity flows through active encouragement and collaboration. “It would be a collaborative space that enables opportunities to reflect and gives courage to progress and go further – together” – Åsa Höistad Jonsgården, Facilitator.
We touched upon the need for space in which we feel comfortable and where we are not afraid to ask questions and share our inner thoughts. “I think an excellent learning environment comes from trust and safety. Believe in yourself, in your team and the process. Safety to dare to fail, to challenge the norm and to say what you think and feel. Trust and security go hand in hand. When we provide students with the safety to open up and share their feelings it sends a signal back that it’s ok to be vulnerable and original, and that creates trust.” – Samuel Hedberg, Programme Leader, Digital Media Creative, Stockholm.
A safe space can influence the creation of a culture, and it’s important in harboring openness and trust. “An effective learning environment is a place where you are not accepted because of what you perform, but for who you are. It’s a place where you can be honest with both your struggles and your victories, and in both cases be met with open arms and curiosity. That way you can head down roads never traveled, brave and bold, taking risks and pushing everything you’ve known before.” – Johanna Olsson, Process Designer & Facilitator.
Students make up part of the learning environment, and so it’s important to set a culture that motivates us to learn. “The students themselves are a vital component to the learning environment – it’s their culture that is the key to effective learning” – David McCall – Managing Director, Hyper Island UK.
Going back to having a safe space, if we succeed in doing that, we can also encourage a culture where we aren’t afraid to make mistakes and try new approaches. “Learning for me is a mindset. Far too often I feel we get caught up in performing. In doing so, we often rely on existing tools, approaches, and knowledge. Learning for me comes from trying out new things and in many ways is about having a beginner’s mindset. A mindset where questions are more important than answers.” Erik Rodin, Inventor at?What !If(and previous Programme Leader on our MA Part-time Digital Media Management).
Diversity of views
People, personalities, their ideas and stories all form part of the learning environment. We learn from one another, and our diversity allows us to understand different perspectives. “I think a healthy learning environment is about the variety of people in it. Working with people from different professional and personal backgrounds, ages, cultures, and countries, who have different skills, ideas and opinions makes for a really rich mix of both learning from others and also sharing your knowledge. If you only work with people who are the same as you, it is hard to grow and develop, but when you mix it up, you can create all kinds of amazing things” – Max Larcombe