[Week 4 Activity] Visit a Learning Space


Welcome to week 4 activity!

This week, we invite you to explore a learning space – how does it support collaboration and sharing?

It can be any place where people are learning or making together - online or offline, formal or informal, big or small, familiar to you or new - you choose!

Once you’re in the space - think about the ways in which is support collaboration and sharing.

  • What kind of activities are people doing together?
  • How does the set up and design of the space support sharing and building on each other’s ideas?
  • Is there anything you would change to make it more collaborative?

Post a picture (or video), a short description and, above all, your reflections!
Looking forward to hearing about your visits!

This post is also available in Italiano, Português, Español, 日本語 (Japanese), עברית (Hebrew)

Learning Space
listed #3


They were working on a project, first they made a video with all the steps and ingredients and then they showed everyone the final result. Each one had an specific role but all of them were invloved and enjoyed this activity. Every single idea is important and the rest of the students were respectful and ask questions about the process.
“Creativity and collaboration that´s made possible when there´s an environment of trust, respect and caring”


I wanted to share the learning spaces of The Sullivan Center for innovation and leadership in Honolulu, Hawaii. Here we have students working on a wide range of projects from their first scratch coding to designing their own drones and 3-D printing the parts and developing their own controls to help local researchers take water samples from nearby waterways.

The fabrication lab and project spaces changed up to fit whatever lesson or project students are currently working on. You can take a virtual tour here.

Here we have a group of students who just completed the Scratch Google CS first club and will go on to be mentors and continue to develop their own scratch games and animations. Each student shared their own creative projects with lots of time between challenges to foster and share their own ideas. Like Mitch said in the video, their computers were also set up in clusters with wheeled chairs so peers could easily move around and help each other.

The second group are learning to put together their own gaming PCs in the open project space using recycled parts and donated rigs.


Preschoolers learning the properties of liquids and how artistic they can be. Everyone participated, Communication of ideas on how to make the patterns change, how would it feel to the touch, and would it be possible to make a picture on paper using the solution. At their tender age, they were already expressing their creativity and finding strategies to extend the activity.


Museum Visitor Scratch Collaborative: Here is a project I created for my museum for a members night event in which I invited visitors to contribute what they love about the museum. To meet potential crowd demands, using a public space hall, I set up a large monitor and a computer with scratch. I created a simple program and made some thematic preset icons (sprites) representing different areas of the museum and let them choose what they wanted and weather they wanted to type or record their response. It ended up being a nice kaleidoscope of diverse perspectives on what they enjoy most about the museum. I then gave them a link to the project page to see it from home or add to the project on their own. It became a project that helped build community and comraderie around personal museum experiences and was only possible by participants that wanted to add their voice. I replayed the animation to attract more visitors to add to the project. As much as I can, I try to integrate opportunities for museum audiences to share experiences with one another and with and beyond the physical collections we have. It became more about the set up to encourage collaboration and peer to peer sharing to happen. `


For this reflection, I am thinking about my former classroom (I’m no longer a classroom teacher so this was the final classroom I taught in). Our school provided us with three large tables, so our room was naturally fairly collaborative. Students always worked in the same space, whether they were collaborating or not. We also had a central meeting area in the middle of the room for group lessons and meetings. During independent or smaller group activities, students made small work spaces everywhere in the room.

One wish I always had was that the tables would break into smaller pieces and they were on wheels so they were easier to move and adjust for larger or smaller projects. They were always stuck in a 6 student configuration, and it would have been great to have different configurations available.


We’ve been organizing Mitou Jr project (, sorry, all in Japanese so far) in Japan, which give talented students (up to 17 years old) financial and mentoring support. This year, we (a team of 8 professionals including me) worked with 17 bright students, and we’ve just finished the final presentation for this year’s cohort.

Slack is our main communication medium. Separate Slack channels are made for each project, and so far, more than 25K messages were sent in more than 20 channels. What’s interesting to see was that the students started helping each other as a result of unintentional design where everyone is invited not only to a channel dedicated to their project, but also for all available channels.

I reflected why the unintentional mutual assistance happened. The conclusion I had was that allowing everyone to easily see what others working on is very important not only in an online environment but also when designing physical space for collaboration as well. Everyone is willing to help others. But it can be accomplished only if people know what others do.

The hypothesis was reinforced by my working experience at Microsoft. I felt like open-office (meaning no physical room assigned for each engineer) would give team members more opportunity to see what others are doing. Therefore, I think more collaboration and the mutual assistance would occur.


[第4週 アクティビティ] 学習スペースを訪ねてみよう

I spent the first 12 years of my education in Asia and then attended a private school in the US. Coming to the US made me appreciate the humanities and social sciences a lot more and reading Chapter 4 of Lifelong Kindergarten made it clear to me that the classroom set up had a lot to do with the experience. In Asia, most of our classrooms looked like this (things may have changed since I left):


Students only speak when spoken to — that was the general rule of thumb. A lot of our schoolwork was about memorising and doing the same exercises repeatedly until you get good. Perhaps that’s why many Asian students (including myself before I came to the US) think that they are better at math and science than arts and languages.

Imagine how surprised I was when I attended my first class at my high school:

round table classroom

Here, class participation was almost required (it was part of the grade)! Students were free to share their thoughts and there was no definite right or wrong (unless we were talking about facts/dates). All of a sudden, subjects like English Literature became fun. What’s interesting is, math and science classes at my high school here were still taught lecture style with rows of individual chairs with tablet arms. It made math and science subjects seem more serious and technical. I wish all classes could be taught in a collaborative manner. For many years, I thought learning is something you had to do and it shouldn’t be fun. Now, it seems so obvious that learning can and should be enjoyable!


I am currently sitting in a learning space; a conference room. This room is conducive for collaborating and sharing, but not entirely. I mean, the table is large which provides everyone ample space for their materials and the chairs are comfortable and have wheels on them, but the walls are plain and it seems bare. I guess it depends on what type of learning will be occurring in this room to truly tell if it is supportive for collaborating and sharing.


For many students, even those under 12 years of age, the school year culminates in stressful end-of year exams. Our local Education Centre, two years ago, at the beginning of the school year signalled that we would host an end-of-year exhibition (not a competition) to celebrate what the children learned over the year. We called it the Children’s Learning Festival and schools simply set the highest target for themselves. There was a wide variety of STEAM themes on show, from Science Experiments, Hydraulics and Pneumatics, Energy, the Sun and Planets, Scratch Coding, Healthy Eating, Fitness, Animal Habitats, Personal Hygiene, Write-a-Book Project, Where we Live, Ireland in Europe, School Life. The only limit was exhibition space. Each participating school received a commemorative certificate.
There were extra attractions organised to run simultaneously with the school exhibition. We invited organisations who set up stands to promote water-safety, road-safety, farm-safety etc. The local art gallery teamed-up with the Irish Wildlife trust to provide an artist to give art workshops to the children. The local library teamed up with a local fiction writer to be interviewed by the children who read his books. One significant element was the children were rostered in threes to stand beside their exhibit and talk about their work. It was a great event to demonstrate a year-long learning space and lots of peer-to-peer collaborative learning. The ‘old’ web site remains at


My school is a collaborative learning space - not just my classroom but the whole school.

Before and after school, staff share ideas, teaching and learning strategies, resources - we are a team who work together.

Lessons during the school day involve collaboration between the children, between the adults, and between the adults and children - we learn from each other; bounce ideas off each other; explore, investigate and question together.

In the classroom, the children sit in mixed ability groups around sets of tables, with the groups changing weekly so they experience working with different learning partners: all the children bring different skills, knowledge and understanding to the ever-changing groupings. They discuss problems, try different approaches, share and compare answers. They take confidence from each other to challenge themselves to work outside their comfort zone and push themselves a step further than they might have thought possible.

We can then use the outside space to be collaborative in physical activities, or the hall to get down in the floor, with no furniture as a barrier to working together. Group members have a look at what others are doing, take ideas back to their group to modify, adapt and improve; they give each other advice, learning to listen and respect each other’s opinions, reach a compromise when necessary, make sure everyone is included and valued.

And then once a week after school my classroom becomes the learning space for Code Club - not quite a Computer Clubhouse but the laptops are out, children look at each other’s projects, ask how they can achieve the same effect, help each other to debug problems. Someone wants to do something - nobody knows how but they make suggestions, experiment, learn from mistakes and achieve success. And I am part of the collaboration - I learn from them, but today I also helped with a problem because I had experimented and learnt last week doing my little Passion Scratch for this course! I felt how the children must feel when they help someone with something they don’t consider themselves to be an expert!

Collaboration gives learners confidence - they are not learning in isolation, they don’t have to stop when they get stuck, they are not held back on their learning journey by their sense of limitation because there is always someone there to offer a helping hand.


HI jeanster–

Thanks for sharing your experience! I notice this with the international students who come to our school from Asia. I hear similar things from students regarding maths and sciences, and then discovering a new passion and love for things like art and music.

I’m glad that you are enjoying learning and hope that you will be able to pass that on to others!


I attended a Catholic elementary school in Ohio in the 1950s and 60s, our classrooms looked just like yours with the same general rule of thumb. We did the same memorizing and repetition of exercises. When we went to the local high school, we were better at math and science than the other students. Almost 50 years later, I returned to teach “computer enrichment” to grades K-8. The classrooms looked similar but with a projection screen in front and teacher in back with a computer. Most children did not know their number facts but they knew how to operate a laptop. So introducing them to Scratch was not difficult and you immediately see peer to peer learning take place. They show each other their creations and ask each other questions. They are learning sophisticated concepts while having fun.


I recently attended a NESA training, and it was wonderful. We were in grouped tables but throughout the day we changed positions and groupings. The learning format varied from direct instruction, to group activities, to clock partner work. We were shaping the content of the training depending on our interests and needs. We used different methods when working in groups from silent written participation to discussions. I came out of it feeling empowered to do the same with students. They deserve the same level of respect and involvement in the learning process.


This is more Literacy related with collaboration. The kids learning together - online and offline in the form of app based creative projects such as Seesaw, Chatterpix, Pic Collage or Book Creator.
They choose books to report on using text and background, fonts and images , recording their voices reading. They can also make words with beans, magnetic letters or stencils.
They all do this independently because they choose their own books, yet all working around each other either on cushions, the floor, at their tables.
These guys are 5 and 6 year olds. The system is called the Daily 5.It’s a brilliant system, totally collaborative yet independent.This is more Literacy related with collaboration. The kids learning together - online and offline in the form of app based creative projects such as Seesaw, Chatterpix, Pic Collage or Book Creator.
They choose books to report on using text and background, fonts and images , recording their voices reading. They can also make words with beans, magnetic letters or stencils.
They all do this independently because they choose their own books, yet all working around each other either on cushions, the floor, at their tables.
These guys are 5 and 6 year olds. The system is called the Daily 5.It’s a brilliant system, totally collaborative yet independent.


As an ESL teacher We always try to work together, sharing ideas and helping one another.
Creating a collaborative environment.


I’m not currently teaching a class, so don’t have an opportunity to visit that space for this week’s activity. Instead I’ll share something a little out of the box perhaps. Here’s a picture from my yoga studio, where we are all collective learners continually working on our practice together on our mats. The activity people are doing together here is yoga, and the space is intentionally very minimalist. There is a lotus painting on one wall, a few mirrors on another wall, a few windows on another wall, and the room itself is a rectangular shape with a bare wooden floor. In this space there is typically a teacher who moves about the room providing instructions, but I would say that throughout the class we also collectively ‘learn’ by seeing our peers in their various yoga poses. There is a general sense of trust and respect that everyone brings to class. Previously I hadn’t thought about if there is anything that I’d change to make it more collaborative, but it would be interesting to see what it would be like if the mats were arranged in a circular pattern vs. the very linear pattern that naturally happens.


As part of a summer LEGO camp, July, 2017, the group, ages 8 - 12, walked the West Vancouver Sea Wall, West Vancouver, BC, Canada. The initial activity was to observe what we saw. We then came back to the “Learning Space” ( the Arts Studio ), West Vancouver Recreation Centre and brainstormed what we observed on the walk. It was everything from ships in the harbor to differently designed apartment buildings to balconies, windows and doors to vegetation to train tracks to people. The group then re-created the seawall in their imaginations using LEGO® pieces, kits, trains, roads and much more. The picture above is their collaborative re-creation of the walk. Please notice the beach volleyball, lower right, they enthusiastically wanted to add. The 4C’s as mentioned in this weeks readings were evident throughout this 4 day event.


Here is a google slideshow where you can see the space that my former students worked in. They often used the floor to draw their designs, then moved to the computer to put their ideas into scratch. In this project and the one that follows, the projects were remixed (original idea by Derek!) by university students in a very different setting. In the second google doc in 2016 you can see that I ‘hired’ comment teams whose job it was to comment on the completed projects. They took their job very seriously and it built a nice community among the grade levels. Peers, passion, play, all built around projects that the students really cared about. It was a rewarding cross-age, cross-cultural collaboration.