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Mark Osborne's discussion posts

  • Mark Osborne 07 Jul 2016 9:43am () in Daily / Weekly timetables in MLE/ILE

    Kia ora whanau,

    I've been having a few discussions with people lately about what a day looks like within MLE/ILE and I realised we haven't spent a lot of time sharing our approaches to the structure of the day/week.

    Given the need for alignment and simplicity so that co-teaching are easy, but also the need to provide enough space in the day for for learners to develop agency, engage in student-led learning like peer tutoring/tuakana-teina time and self-directed learning, what do people's days look like?

    Also, if your week includes things like project-based learning, community-based learning or other interesting elements of curriculum, please share those.

    Share here so others can see your approach.

  • Mark Osborne 08 Sep 2015 9:58am () in Year groups in MLE

    Kia ora Bronwyn,

    Always good to look at the research that sits behind these ideas in addition to scanning people's personal experiences. The research I'm familiar with for composite classes supports Neill's point that it can make a difference if teacher practice takes advantage of the opportunity.

    Where there has been an improvement in outcomes for learners, it is seen particularly across reading, writing and maths (maths in particular) but crucially in increased 'pro-social' behaviour (the opposite of anti-social behaviour). There's obviously the culturally-responsive consideration- that whanau-based groupings, ako, tuakana-teina relationships etc. are particularly advantageous to Maori and pasefika learners.

    So some good reasons to explore the idea!


  • Mark Osborne 27 Aug 2015 8:25am () in Help!!- Research against MLEs- the most scathing please!

    Kia ora Mia,

    Thanks Elicia for recommending my videos! Hope they're helpful. Others have said a lot of the key points, but if you need a couple of nice jumping off points for why education needs to change, check out:

    These two videos lay out the imperative for future-focused education really well.

    We could get into some pretty deep research about the ways in which education needs to change, but it sounds like your board members are interested in 'why should we change?' (which is the first question that people need to be able to answer when embarking on change).

    What resources do others use to explain the changes they're making to practice and learning environments?


  • Mark Osborne 10 Aug 2015 9:57am () in MLE

    Kia ora Shaun,

    You're right- if we limit our thinking to the physical buildings (walls, doors, windows, space) we miss the opportunity to think about the wider learning ecosystem- outdoor environment (situated, or place-based learning), the community (school as 'basecamp') the socio-cultural context and virtual learning environments.

    Here's a link to the CORE Education MLE Planning Matrix which identifies a range of different elements that need to be considered when exploring learning environments including networks and connections with the community.


  • Mark Osborne 23 Oct 2014 9:35am () in MLE and LEADERSHIP

    Hi Cathy,

    Good question, and I'd be interested to hear people sharing their experiences here. There are probably a couple of elements to explore:

    1. How people work together to develop the vision for what modern learning should be (and therefore the environments required to support it), and
    2. How do we all get on once that environment is built.

    Both are quite specific leadership challenges.

    For many people with whom I work the challenge of learning to work together as a team, sharing and teaching in the same space is as big as building the environment itself! I know there are lots of people in this group who are in co-teaching environments, and people who have led the development of these co-teaching approach, who will be happy to share their experiences.


  • Mark Osborne 21 May 2014 10:19am () in MLE Article from this month's Ed Gazette

    Really enjoyed reading this article about Vauxhill Primary's approach to MLEs:

    "Variable space has been a way of life for us here at Vauxhall School for as long as any of us can remember. It is a model that can work for everyone, yet presents challenges. It’s not the only way to set up collaborative classrooms, but it works for us – and we wouldn’t have it any other way! It works because our teachers believe in the benefits that flexible space provides for the children and for themselves. It is a highly collaborative and organised approach to learning and teaching." 


    • What are the key messages that come through for you?
  • Mark Osborne 28 Mar 2014 12:46pm () in Christian Long interview on Nine-to-noon

    Really nice interview with Christian Long from Nine-to-noon.

    "Christian Long is the Co-Founder, of the Wonder Wonder studio and Prototype Design Studio, and he previously co-lead the The Third Teacher and design studio of CannonDesign. Christian is an educator, school planner, and passionate advocate for innovative learning communities. He is an advocate for the value of student collaboration in innovative school design."

    Some good questions he asks:

    • What kinds of environments amplify our ability to work together?
    • How do I have access to information, the ideas, the resources, the mentors, teams I need just in time?
    • What are students going to need in terms of access to their team, a lecture, communities, a studio, a stage?
    Good comments toward the end about the importance of movement to human beings and the importance of choosing furniture based on its ability to let people move or fidget and therefore maintain focus, rather than choosing it based on its ability to stack or its price.
  • Mark Osborne 27 Mar 2014 1:31pm () in MLE storage

    Hi Aaron,

    One of the things that people say time and time again about bag storage is that if you can get them out to somewhere like a veranda, you free up a huge amount of space in cloakrooms/toilets that can then be used as learning settings. I know a number of schools have also relocated toilets into larger 'super-loos' to free up space in older-style classroom blocks too.

    As far as in-class storage of students' itesm go (and getting rid of some desks to free up space for different kinds of learning) I know Stephanie Thompson did a great prototype with buckets at the beginning of last year. She documented and shared it all (as a good teacher should ;-) on her blog: http://traintheteacher.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/first-day-of-school/

    I took a number of different lessons out of it, and spent a lot of time thinking about how it would translate to tote-trays, the use of small stackable crates etc.

    It's a great post- well worth a read.


  • Mark Osborne 20 Mar 2014 9:05am () in CORE Education MLE Planning Matrix

    Kia ora koutou,

    Thought I would re-post a link to the CORE Ed MLE Planning Matrix as a lot of people are asking me about where to begin with Modern Learning Environments.

    http://www.core-ed.org/professional-learning/mle-matrix (link to a printable pdf version at the bottom)

    A lot of people have found it really useful for scoping all of the things that need to be considered when approaching the redesign of learning spaces.

    I've also recorded this guide on how to use the MLE Matrix- crucially, it starts not with the building, but with your school's vision for learning:

    Hope that's helpful to people.


  • Mark Osborne 17 Mar 2014 10:13pm () in MLE- Do these actually raise student achievement?

    Kia ora Ryan,

    Great question, and thanks to everyone who has taken the time to post. Really helpful comments.

    A few thoughts from me:

    You're right that it's difficult to put your finger on research that categorically shows a link between space and outcomes for students. Unfortunately that's one of the drawbacks of working in a relatively recent area of education. Using digital devices for blended learning is in a similar position with a small but growing research base. It would be great to have 10 or 20 year longitudinal studies demonstrating raised outcomes for students from MLEs but that research simply doesn’t exist.

    One of the trickiest aspects of research into MLEs is the fact that it’s possible to use poor pedagogy (i.e. strategies that are not evidence-based) in modern learning environments. It’s not as easy as saying if you change the environment, learning increases, because so much of it comes down to how the environment is used. In fact, if a study were to suggest that learning increasely solely through a change in environment (and not the pedagogy) I would closely interrogate it. Because if what the students are being asked to do cognitively is the same in two different spaces, an change in outcomes is unlikely.

    When looking at how a learning environment might be used well, we should look to the research around pedagogy. Attention should be paid to work such as the Best Evidence Synthesis on pedagogy (Quality Teaching for Diverse Learners), Te Kotahitanga and John Hattie’s Visible Learning to identify teaching strategies that are most likely to make a difference for our learners. Providing an environment that offers as many learning settings as possible to promote these kinds of powerful pedagogies (peer tutoring, reciprocal teaching, mastery learning, student agency over learning etc.) is crucial and for many schools this variety is offered through modern learning environments. To summarise the thinking in this area: MLEs make a difference because they give teachers more opportunities to use pedagogies that make a difference.

    Another complicating variable is the fact that many teachers in MLEs work to develop skills that are not easily measured: providing science discovery areas to develop curiosity, quiet, withdrawal spaces to promote reflection and meta-cognition, independent study spaces to develop self-reliance and motivation etc, Again, providing these kinds of opportunities is possible in a traditional classroom, but it’s expensive to provide every classroom with every setting, and a school therefore gets more bang for its buck (and the resources can be of a higher quality) when working in groupings of 3:75 rather than 1:25.

    Another area of research that we'd love to see more of is centred around the impact on teacher quality. The coaching, support and mentoring that is possible in a co-teaching/MLE environment has a strong backing in research and for my money, isthe area that holds the key to the greatest impact on outcomes for students: teachers working together (not separated and isolated by the building) to help each other be the best teacher they can be.

    Having said there's not much research around, here’s one study that looks at the environment as well as the kind of learning that takes place within that environment (collaborative, student-centred, active learning) and demonstrates a remarkable increase in student learning. Only one study, and it’s at the tertiary level, but it's part of the trend we’re seeing that recognises that space is a container that can encourage us to use that space in positive ways, but by itself, it won’t transform learning: http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/pedagogy-and-space-empirical-research-new-learning-environments

    A bit of a blog post, but I hope that helps.